This wasn’t how things were supposed to go for the Houston Texans in 2016.
After winning the AFC South a season ago at 9-7 and getting smoked at home by the Kansas City Chiefs in the Wild Card round, the Texans made a move that was supposed to put them over the top.
A big move. An expensive move.
And yet, in signing quarterback Brock Osweiler to a $72 million contract that includes $37 million in guarantees over the first two years, the Texans are right back where they started—barely above .500, clinging desperately to first place in the NFL’s worst division and hoping they can win football games not because of their quarterback, but in spite of him.
The Texans weren’t able to do that in Week 12, falling at home for the first time this season. It wasn’t hard to pinpoint why the Texans lost 21-13 to the San Diego Chargers…Osweiler was awful.
Tim Warner/Getty Images
Against the Bolts, Osweiler failed to complete 60 percent of his passes. He posted a passer rating of less than 50. And most importantly, Osweiler threw three interceptions, including two in the fourth quarter as Houston attempted to mount a comeback.
Osweiler himself freely admitted to Sarah Barshop of ESPN.com that he didn’t play well against San Diego:
I just felt like the rest of the football team today — and especially the defense, special teams, the offensive line — I really felt like those guys went out there and truly battled and played great football. I need to play better for us to win. I feel like our team gave us the opportunity to win today. This is a damn good football team, and I let them down today. I need to play better.
The problem is that Sunday’s clunker is far from an isolated occurrence. In fact, given how many eggs he’s laid and the number of wobbling quackers he’s chucked toward the sky in 2016, it’s fair to wonder if Osweiler thinks he’s a duck.
Osweiler has only two starts this season without an interception, and three in which he’s thrown more interceptions than touchdowns. Sunday’s passer rating of 45.6 was a season-low and the fifth time in 11 games that Osweiler‘s rating came in under 70.
A glance at more advanced metrics doesn’t make Osweiler look a bit better. Of 35 qualifying quarterbacks at Pro Football Focus, Osweiler ranks dead last—behind the likes of Josh McCown, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Case Keenum.
That’s right—worse than Case flipping Keenum.
Osweiler is tied with Fitzpatrick and Blake Bortles of the Jacksonville Jaguars for the NFL lead in interceptions with 13. Of those 35 qualifiers at PFF, only Blaine Gabbert of the 49ers (who was benched weeks ago) has a worse passer rating. Osweiler is also last in yards per attempt and 29th in completion percentage.
The hits just keep coming. Osweiler is also last in PFF‘s modified QB rating, which “takes into account dropped passes, throw aways, spikes, and yards in the air and further adjust the old formula so it makes more sense and is a more accurate measure.”
New math or old, the result’s the same. Osweilier stinks.
Osweiler fares a bit better in ESPN’s QBR, another attempt at tweaking the admittedly outdated passer rating formula. There he ranks 25th of 32 qualifiers.
After all, progress under center was supposed to be the point to doling out all that money for Osweiler in the offseason. Osweiler was supposed to be a big step in the right direction after Brian Hoyer imploded in the playoffs against the Chiefs.
Instead, Osweiler‘s numbers through 11 games look worse than Hoyer‘s in 11 games a year ago.
The thing is, this isn’t exactly a shock—or at least it shouldn’t be. As ESPN’s Bill Barnwell pointed out earlier this year, Osweiler‘s numbers over seven starts in Denver last year looked an awful lot like Hoyer‘s numbers over his first eight NFL starts (Hoyer tore his ACL in the eighth).
In other words, the Texans talked themselves into paying almost $40 million over this year and next for a Hoyer clone. They convinced themselves that Osweiler‘s performance in Denver was only the beginning, but now it appears that may be as good as it gets.
No wonder John Elway wasn’t willing to engage in a bidding war with Houston.