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We Need to Talk About Brock Osweiler

The Texans’ $72 million investment is going up in flames.

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Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

The ferocious Denver Bronco’s pass rush did not sack Brock Osweiler, not even once. Nor did any of the Houston Texans’ $17 million-a-year man’s 19 incompletions in 41 attempts fall into the hands of a Denver Bronco defender. No sacks or interceptions? And he completed 54 percent of his passes? Sounds like Osweiler must have had a pretty good game, right?

In a word, no. Apparently terrified of Von Miller and company, Osweiler redefined dink and epitomized dunk all night long. In the end, he coughed up a hairball of 3.19 yards per attempt that had statisticians scouring the record books for disparaging superlatives all night long.

Let’s check out a few of Osweiler’s feats, shall we? Per the Elias Sports Bureau:

Brock Osweiler threw 41 passes for only 131 yards in the Texans’ loss at Denver on Monday night. The only player in NFL history who had fewer passing yards in a game in which he threw at least 40 passes is Jesse Palmer, who was 18-for-43 for 110 yards against the Panthers in the Giants’ final game of the 2003 season. That was the third and final start of Palmer’s NFL career and it was the last game of Jim Fassel’s NFL head-coaching career.

And then there was this play, one that will join Sage Rosenfels’s “Rosencopter” at the very pinnacle of the hyper-competitive history of Houston Texans quarterback follies.

Whew. Only outdone in ineptitude by Jesse “The Bachelor” Palmer. Can’t throw the ball beyond the chains to save his life. It took a full three quarters of the game for Osweiler’s passing yardage to surpass the 62 yards that came via a single Shane Lechler punt. And the Texans are on the hook for $37 million in guaranteed money to this guy, whose game can best be described as “three yards and a cloud of bust.”

What to do? A lot of Texans fans have run out of patience for the quarterback. A GoFundMe campaign was started on Monday night seeking $72 million in donations to buy Osweiler out of his contract (as of this writing, it’s garnered $130, so there’s a long way to go). And an increasingly vocal contingent of Texans’ fans on talk radio and message boards is clamoring for third-year backup Tom Savage. The coaches apparently believe that Savage is at least a little bit better than Brandon Weeden, who, as noted, is one of the very few active NFL quarterbacks to have ever performed as poorly in a single game as Osweiler.

From a pure football standpoint, why not give Savage a shot? If he is good enough to have passed Weeden on the depth chart, he might well be better than Osweiler too. And if he isn’t, at least the Texans could say they explored every avenue, and the fans would know for certain that they were stuck with Osweiler. Why not roll the dice?

Well, there’s that contract. Let’s say Savage comes in and performs noticeably better than Osweiler, but not earth-shatteringly so. If Savage and his $630,000 salary could pull of one or two more wins, it would be a nightmare scenario for owner Bob McNair, head coach Bill O’Brien, and general manager Rick Smith. Fans would rightly wonder if the yearly $16.4 million premium on Osweiler over Savage might not have been better spent shoring up the offensive line or that porous run defense that made Denver running backs C.J. Anderson and Devontae Booker look like the second and third comings of Terrell Davis.

Although it is highly unlikely that Osweiler is thirty times better than Savage, as their salaries would suggest, it is equally improbable that Savage is the guy to take this team on a deep playoff run. And in the NFL, you just don’t leave tens of millions of dollars lying around on the bench unless doing so guarantees you a shot at the Super Bowl, or the big-money player’s performance is so horrific home games become protests, such as those dark days when fans were burning Matt Schaub’s jersey in the Reliant Stadium parking lot.

When the atmosphere gets that toxic, a housecleaning becomes inevitable. Should Osweiler continue this season’s trajectory, it’s hard to envision Bill O’Brien on the sidelines next year. And that’s a shame. He would just be the latest scapegoat in a long list that now includes Charley Casserly, Dom Capers, David Carr, Matt Schaub, Jacoby Jones, rookie Kareem Jackson, Bryan Hoyer, Wade Phillips, and Ed Reed.

The one constant through it all has been Bob McNair, who has taken a, shall we say, active role in deciding who takes snaps on Kirby Drive. According to Houston Chronicle columnist John McClain signing Osweiler was O’Brien’s idea, so it’s likely that it’s his job, and not Rick Smith’s, that is on the line here should Osweiler fail to suddenly morph into Aaron Rodgers, or at least Matt Stafford.

Meanwhile, Dak Prescott (salary: $450,000), a guy the Texans had several chances to snag in the draft, is the top statistical QB in the league, and doing it for the loathed Cowboys to boot. Also performing in the top half of starting QBs: Derek Carr, ($733,000). Despite McNair’s insistence that finding a franchise QB was the team’s top priority in the 2014 draft, the Texans shunned Carr, likely because of the failings of his brother. And Hoyer, last year’s scapegoat, was turning in a better-than-average performance at about one-fifteenth of Osweiler’s salary before breaking his arm and going on injured reserve. Osweiler looks like less and less the answer to any question other than “Who is the biggest bust of a QB in the free agency era?”

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  • HansGruber2016

    “Who is the biggest bust of a QB in the free agency era?” I think Kapernick still owns that title, for now.

    • Monty Hobratschk

      Kaepernick has made it and played in a Super Bowl and the NFC Championship game the next year. Not the biggest bust by far.

      • HansGruber2016

        That was before the big contract, which makes it worse.

  • Skulb

    Btw, if the Texans want to pay $72 million dollars for a, aging, slightly overweight and out of shape QB, I am available. I have never played football before, but I’m sure I can’t be much worse than Oz. I can also guarantee that I will be more entertaining.