By going “all in” on Osweiler the Texans were able to enhance their 53 man roster and keep future draft choices. They improved Osweiler’s opportunity to be successful by surrounding him with offensive weapons while retaining their dominating defense. They spent what they had to spend to execute their plan.
For all that is made about Osweiler’s salary, there are now 14 starting quarterbacks who will make more money in 2016. With more contracts, including Andrew Luck‘s, under negotiation Osweiler’s salary will likely be pushed further down the list before the 2016 regular season begins. If his contract runs the full 4 years his salary will be in the bottom quartile in his last contract year.
“All in” is a risky strategy, but accepting high risk is not necessarily a bad decision if it is accompanied by potential high reward. Given the Texans’ draft position and their roster needs they couldn’t move up in the draft as did the Rams and Eagles by gutting their 2016 and 2017 drafts. Their only alternatives were to continue the journeyman quarterback merry-go-round or sign the best free agent quarterback available, Osweiler, the Denver Broncos former heir apparent to Peyton Manning.
PFF makes the case that Osweiler’s numbers were very pedestrian. In fact they are comparable to Brian Hoyer‘s in many categories, not a pleasant thought for Texans faithful. But statistics don’t tell the whole story.
Hoyer accumulated his 2015 numbers as the anointed starter. While there was supposedly an open competition, the offense was tailored for Hoyer’s skill set. Under the “quarterback whisperings” of Bill O’Brien and George Godsey Hoyer performed near his ceiling…until the fateful playoff game against Kansas City. Those disastrous playoff numbers are not included in the regular season stats.
On the other hand Osweiler accumulated his numbers as a fill-in in an offense tailored to Manning’s skill set. Yes, it was Gary Kubiak‘s offense. No doubt it was tweaked for Osweiler when Manning went down.
However, that is a lot different than working in an offense from the beginning of OTAs that is specially refined for your skill set. The fact is that the offensive game plan with Osweiler under center was plain vanilla. His job was to not lose. He was tasked with being a game manager. It wasn’t his team. It was Peyton’s.
Does that mean that Osweiler will improve his numbers significantly under O’Brien and Godsey? It is reasonable to think so. Their proven track record of getting the best out of quarterbacks in undeniable. The Texans are Osweiler’s team. The offense is being built around him and his skills.
He will have the opportunity to prove what his ceiling really is. In this very different environment his 2015 statistics mean little. He starts 2016 with a clean slate and the opportunity to show what his ceiling actually is. Does he represent risk? Absolutely, but it is calculated risk offset by significant potential reward.
If Osweiler’s potential is so great why did the Broncos bench him in favor of an aging Peyton Manning? The answer is pretty simple. Osweiler was replaced because his replacement was, let’s say it together, “Peyton Manning”.
What would the uproar have been if the Broncos had lost in the playoffs with a “healthy” Peyton Manning on the bench? How could the Broncos deny this future hall of famer the opportunity to go out as John Elway had, with a Super Bowl victory? One half of football with a few dropped passes that should have been caught, one deflected into an interception and the stage was set. Manning enter stage right. The rest is history.
Signing Osweiler is not a sure thing. He could prove that 2015 was his ceiling and be gone in two years; with his name being mentioned alongside David Carr‘s in Texans’ infamy. But Rick Smith and Bill O’Brien did their homework. They decided that Osweiler was the quarterback upon whom they were willing to cast their fate. Because if Osweiler is a bust he will not be the only one gone in two years.