After the 2016 NFL schedule was released, you can bet Brock Osweiler circled this Monday’s matchup with his former team, following his blockbuster free-agent move to the Houston Texans this offseason.
It’s his chance to prove head coach Gary Kubiak wrong for going back to Peyton Manning late last season. It’s his chance to stick it to general manager John Elway for refusing to meet Osweiler’s demands for near franchise-level money. It’s the golden opportunity that every football player that’s been unceremoniously dumped by a team hopes for.
Unfortunately, all Osweiler will do Monday night is confirm he saved Denver from several years of mediocrity when he opted to take the Texans’ offer.
Through the first six weeks for the season, the Broncos have been the clear winners of the decision. They replaced Osweiler with Trevor Siemian and first-rounder Paxton Lynch after opting not to up their reported three-year, $48-million contract offer, and have looked just as effective on offense as they did during their Super Bowl run last year.
Siemian has been far from spectacular, but he’s been smart with the football, sprinkled in the odd explosive downfield play, allowed the defense to win games, and, most importantly, done it all for an average salary of just under $600,000.
While Denver should be criticized for attempting to re-sign Osweiler, they realized, unlike Houston, he was not a franchise-type player or long-term option.
He’s proven that in his short time leading the Texans.
Few expected him to be an elite passer, especially not in his first full season as a starter, but it was thought he’d be able to bring at least average quarterback play, something that’s evaded the Texans for too long. Instead, the offense has regressed under the fifth-year pivot.
The Texans rank 29th in the league in passing yards (216.5) and points (18) per game. Superstar wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who has managed to put up elite numbers with the likes Brian Hoyer, Case Keenum, and Matt Schaub, has looked worryingly mortal with Osweiler under center, averaging just 59 yards per game.
Osweiler’s numbers have been even more disappointing. Eight touchdowns to eight interceptions, a 59 percent completion rate, and 6.2 yards per attempt. The Texans basically paid triple for a tall Hoyer.
Two weeks ago, Osweiler played a dominant Minnesota Vikings defense that shares many qualities with the Broncos’ lauded unit – a fearsome pass-rush thanks to depth in the front seven, a playmaking secondary, and strong veteran leadership. The result for Osweiler: One interception, 4.4 yards per attempt average, and 13 points scored.
There is no reason to expect a better performance Monday, with the Broncos’ added motivation potentially leading to an even worse outing for Osweiler.
In his introductory press conference back in March, Osweiler said he left Denver for Houston because he felt the Texans gave him “the best opportunity to be successful.”
That message stung a Broncos team coming off a Super Bowl win.
“Yeah, we probably did take that personally,” Broncos cornerback Chris Harris said.
Osweiler later attempted to argue he meant the preferable offensive scheme of Texans head coach Bill O’Brien, but the insult still lingers for Denver.
What won’t linger past Monday night for the Broncos are any doubts they had about passing on the Osweiler era.