Brock Osweiler Just Needs To Be As Good As Matt Schaub
Brock Osweiler doesn't have to be a savior, he just has to be capable.
I realize the title of this post may have sent many of you straight for the bathroom to go toss up whatever it was you ate for breakfast, and for that I sincerely apologize. Indeed, if you've been "Schaubbed," I feel terrible. What I would ask of you is that you just hear me out. Please.
Now, there has been no more discussed, dissected, and dismantled piece of analysis this offseason than the various answers to the question "How will Brock Osweiler perform as the franchise quarterback for the Houston Texans?" The possibilities span virtually the entire quarterback-performance spectrum with the ceiling this coming season for Osweiler likely being "a souped up Joe Flacco" and the floor being, well, "Joe Flacco in 2013," quite honestly.
Nobody really knows how Osweiler is going to do this season. In many ways, his journey is uncharted territory, or at the very least, not-very-recently-charted territory. We just don't see free agent, potentially starting quarterbacks change teams for big money in this day and age, and yet that's exactly what happened with Osweiler.
Before I circle back to the original Schaub/Osweiler premise in the title of this post, and I swear I am going to explain myself, here are the things we KNOW about Brock Osweiler, Texans starting quarterback:
1. Bill O'Brien is thrilled so far with his major acquisition, lauding his work ethic and his immediate connection with teammates. Following the first workout of mandatory minicamp on Tuesday, here's what the Texans' head coach had to say:
“Yes. Yeah, he has been in here every single day of the offseason program. He shows up early, stays late. He has been able to understand the operation of the offense. He has been able to function very well in the huddle, at the line of scrimmage. Just like everybody else, nothing is perfect in practice. You’re not game planning. He sees something new every day. Something new defensively. We put in new plays every day. I think with all that has been thrown at him, he has made a lot of progress.”
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2. Osweiler was 5-2 last season as the starter in Denver last season, including wins over New England and Cincinnati. His statistics were decidedly average (passer rating of 86.4), which makes all of the wild 2016 conjecture based on his 2015 season even more hilarious, on both ends — those predicting major success and those forecasting utter failure. If you're using Osweiler's 2015 season as evidence for any extreme predictions, you're just throwing stuff at the wall to see if it sticks.
3. Osweiler's serviceable 2015 was always dicey, with the specter of Peyton Manning constantly. Also, he was in Gary Kubiak's offense for less than a year. Osweiler is understandably thrilled to be working in O'Brien's offense, which gives the QB a ton of control at the line of scrimmage.
So back to this "all Brock has to do is play as well as Matt Schaub" hot take from me at the top of the page. Of course, when I say Schaub's name, people immediately think of the beleaguered, pick-six addled version of Schaub that torpedoed the Texans' 2013 season. That's obviously not the standard I'm looking for Osweiler to strive toward.
However, if you look at Schaub's numbers from 2009 through 2012, they're pretty solid:
SEASON CMP ATT PCT YDS TD INT RATING RECORD
2009 396 583 67.9 4,770 29 15 98.6 9-7
2010 365 574 63.6 4,370 24 12 92.0 6-10
2011 178 292 61.0 2,479 15 6 96.8 7-3
2012 350 544 64.3 4,008 22 12 90.7 12-4
AVG 322 498 64.7 3,907 22 11 94.3
With an average annual salary of $18 million, Osweiler ranks 16th, smack dab in the middle of the QB curve. Knowing that at least one 2012 draft classmate of his, Andrew Luck, has yet to get paid on his next contract, this means Osweiler will start the season at the top of the bottom half of the gaggle of starting quarterbacks in terms of annual salary.
So while $72 million over four years sounds like a lot of money (and, in actual currency, it IS), in salary cap terms, this is an investment where a QB ranking in the top 10-12 at the position would be a win. It just so happens that for the period of Schlub's career snapshotted above, he was generally considered a fringe-of-the-top-dozen signal caller, sometimes maybe even higher.
In 2009, Schaub led the league in passing yards when he had virtually no running game. In 2010, he was again a pretty solid passer, but was victimized by a horrific Texans defense. In 2011, Schaub was on his way to leading the Texans to a possible Super Bowl when Albert Haynesworth broke his foot. Finally, in 2012, the 12-4 record masks how badly Schaub (and the entire team, really) butchered December that year.
With a team whose running game should be steady, if not dynamic, with Lamar Miller, and a defense that will likely be among the best in the league, Osweiler shouldn't have to deal with as many peripheral caveats and what-ifs when it comes to other areas of the team. In other words, a fringe top ten quarterback performance — something like, oh I dunno, a 65 percent completion rate and a 2/1 touchdown to interception ratio, Schaub numbers — should result in a big year for the team.
If Osweiler puts up those numbers for four years and the Texans get to a Super Bowl, I could almost live with him becoming a pick-six machine after he signs his extension like Schaub did.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.
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