The Clock Has Struck Midnight On Brock Osweiler
It's time for the Texans to admit the Brock Osweiler experiment has failed.
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
For a team with no real in-house alternatives, it made an amount of sense for the Texans to sign Brock Osweiler. In the prism of perfect hindsight, though, it was just the last desperate compensation cap hit the Texans got for passing over the 2014 quarterback class. One mistake lead to Ryan Fitzpatrick as quarterback for a year, then Brian Hoyer, and then finally, $37 million of guaranteed cash for Osweiler. The pressure to win now led to this signing, a huge expenditure on a quarterback who is awful under pressure and in the red zone.
Let's be clear that while this was a seemingly reasonable gamble—one that John Elway would've made for not much less money had Osweiler not saved the Broncos from themselves—it has failed. Osweiler's 12 weeks in Houston have been a disaster. He has succeeded in minimizing DeAndre Hopkins to a bit player, and the offense, at its absolute peak, has devolved into the two drives a game where Osweiler hooks up deep with Will Fuller. When the Texans have won this season, they have done so with the worst offense by DVOA in the NFL. Osweiler, having played with the Broncos and Texans, is somehow 11-7 as a starter, which should tell you everything you need to know about the validity of quarterback wins.
The Texans, though, still have a season to save. At 6-5, a half-game up on the Titans, they are still somehow in a driver's seat to make the playoffs. But to do so, they have to admit that a sunk cost is a sunk cost. Osweiler hasn't gotten any better and won't be getting any better. Managing him has just left the Houston offense hoping that defenses forget to cover the tight end in the middle of the field, whether it's C.J. Fiedorowicz or Ryan Griffin.
So, as they did when they reached out for Osweiler, it's time to embrace the unknown. It's time to come full-circle to 2014. It's time to start Tom Savage.
Savage was picked in the fourth round as a developmental quarterback who the Texans apparently preferred to Teddy Bridgewater and Derek Carr near the top of the second round. And, while he was a complete tools freak of a prospect, with little in the way of college production, he did appear fairly competent in the preseason. His arm strength is the best the Texans have on their roster at the moment.
The most important reason to let Savage start now is to avoid a situation like the Jets stumbled into this year. They didn't know if Bryce Petty was ready, and still really don't, so rather than go with the unknown, they've trotted out Fitzpatrick over and over again to horrendous results. They don't know if they can believe in any of their quarterback options, and are too scared to try new ones because they might lose by even more.
Starting Savage would do a few things for the Texans. One is that, with no tape on him, defenses will be playing at a disadvantage for a few weeks while they figure out his tendencies. Another is that he can't really perform much worse than Osweiler has. Finally, it will forever close the book on 2014. The Texans still have an out in the midst of a horrible situation. They may even still be vindicated for passing on Carr and Bridgewater.
Naturally, they won't take it. Because the NFL is very much a devil-you-know league, and the Texans are nothing if not stubborn about the people they believe in. Sometimes, as with edge rusher Whitney Mercilus and corner Kareem Jackson, that has paid off in the long run.
In this case, all starting Osweiler will do is lead to a sad, regrettable, hard-fought loss for everyone else on the team. Whether it's a 9-7 playoff team being made to eat dirt by a superior opponent, as happened against the Chiefs last year, or if they fall prey to the Titans and Colts and don't even get there.
It's very clear what we can expect for these Texans. But it doesn't have to be.