FOXBORO, Mass. — Bill O’Brien indicated Saturday that fixing the Houston Texans’ offense isn’t “rocket science.”
Maybe so, but fixing the offense might be “Brock-et science,” as in quarterback Brock Osweiler, and that could be much worse.
The Texans lost to the New England Patriots on Saturday night in an AFC divisional-round game for a variety of reasons. Osweiler’s ineffectiveness might not have been the No. 1 reason, but it certainly ranked near the top. The $72-million man completed just 23 of 40 passes for 198 yards (less than 5 yards per attempt) with one touchdown pass and three costly interceptions.
The usually sure-handed Patriots committed an uncharacteristically high amount of mistakes, turning the ball over three times — including two Tom Brady interceptions — and allowed Houston to start with tremendous field position on multiple occasions, including three times in the first half inside New England territory (27, 12, 49). Osweiler and Houston’s 31st-ranked red-zone offense did little with the advantageous field position, coming away with just 13 of a possible 21 points on those drives.
“I feel like we had a couple opportunities early in the game and even later in the game to make plays as an offense and put our team in a great position, and we weren’t able to make those plays,” Osweiler said.
Osweiler and the Texans’ offense couldn’t take advantage of the “worst” game of Brady’s season. Brady looked especially dialed in on a third-quarter touchdown drive — completing 6 of 7 passes for 94 yards, including an 18-yard touchdown pass to James White — but other than that, he was pedestrian. At least compared to his lofty, borderline otherworldly expectations.
Those sorts of games don’t come along often when you’re playing the Patriots, and if you’re going to win, you need to make the most of your opportunities. But with Osweiler under center, it became clear that wasn’t going to happen. Even when the Texans made it a one-score game in the fourth quarter by cutting the lead to eight, Osweiler made a bad mistake.
Down 24-16 with the ball on the Houston 11-yard line, Osweiler forced a throw into heavy coverage, overthrowing DeAndre Hopkins. The ball bounced off the wideout’s hands and then was picked off by Logan Ryan, who returned it all the way to the Houston 6-yard line. The Patriots scored two plays later, pushing the lead to 31-16, and that was that.
“I made a clear read,” Osweiler recalled. “I thought I was going to have a big explosive game completion, and I think the ball just got away from me a little bit. It sailed a tick high and next thing you know, it’s intercepted, so that’s my fault, I’ll clean that up.”
Putting all the blame on Osweiler is simply unfair. It’s not his fault the Texans gave up a 98-yard kickoff return to Dion Lewis, and he’s not responsible for blown coverage in the Houston secondary. And the best throw of Osweiler’s night was dropped by Will Fuller in th end zone. But the Texans gave Osweiler a $72 million contract in the offseason to be their franchise quarterback, and so far, there’s not much return on the investment. The three-pick night was a fitting cap-off to a season in which the Texans actually benched Osweiler.
But the Texans gave Osweiler a $72 million contract in the offseason to be their franchise quarterback, and so far, there’s not much return on the investment. The three-pick night was a fitting cap-off to a season in which the Texans actually benched Osweiler.
Houston had a chance to put a real scare into the NFL’s best team on Saturday night, and while Patriots might have been sitting on their hands for a while, the game never really was in doubt because New England obviously is the better team. But there was no way Osweiler was going to win that game for the Texans. The list of quarterbacks who would have put the Texans in a better position to win, however, is a lengthy one.
So instead of pulling off one of the biggest upsets in recent history, O’Brien and the Texans turn to the offseason with plenty of quarterback questions looming.
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images