On Sunday, the Houston Texans faced a San Diego Charger defense that ranked near the bottom of the league when it came to defending the pass. This was very good opportunity for Brock Osweiler to continue his success from last week (vs. the Oakland Raiders) and help generate some momentum for the Texans’ potential playoff run.
Instead, Osweiler not only failed to deliver a strong performance, but his three interceptions raised serious questions about his decision making. In this article, instead of analyzing each individual drive, we’ll look at some of the key drives in the game, in order to find out what Osweiler did well, and what he needs to work on.
The statement “It’s going to come down to the quarterback” is as factual as saying ‘water is wet”. On the third offensive drive of the game, Osweiler seemed to come to life and was able to lead the offense down the field for the first score of the game. This drive included a 33 yard strike to Will Fuller, and a 1 yard touchdown run by Osweiler himself, to give the Texans an early 7-0 lead in the game.
After the Chargers tied the game 7-7, Osweiler made a crucial error on the next drive (even though he came out swinging with a 15 yard strike to Will Fuller). Flushed out of the pocket and on the run, instead of throwing the football out of bounds, he forced it onto Deandre Hopkins. This led to Chargers cornerback Casey Hayward getting his 6th interception of the season, and led to a Chargers score, making the game 14-7.
By getting the ball first at the start of the 3rd quarter, the Texans had a chance to tie the game – and they appeared to be poised to do so, with a quick 19 yard strike to Deandre Hopkins. Unfortunately, the offense once again sputtered near midfield, and they were forced to point. However, on the 3rd drive of the 2nd half, Osweiler began showing flashes of precision passing as well as a stronger ability to elude the Charger pass rush, and he was able to get a drive going. Though they got into the redzone, they were unable to punch it in for a touchdown, and the Texans offense had to settle for a field goal to make the score 10-14.
After a Chargers touchdown that made the score 21-10, it was clear that Osweiler was getting into his groove and ready to make some plays downfield; and he proved this by connecting with tight end C.J Fiedorowicz for a 15 yard pass downfield. Then, suddenly, on the very next play, he overthrows a wide open Fiedorowicz and the ball lands right into the hands of safety Dwight Lowery for Osweiler’s 2nd interception of the game. Fortunately, the defense was able to do their job and prevent the Chargers from scoring, so Osweiler had yet another chance to redeem himself. Once again, Osweiler came out strong, completing a 12 yard pass to rookie Braxton Miller that sparked the drive; then, he had a 15 yard completion to Deandre Hopkins. The drive stalled however, and the offense faced a 3 and 10, where Osweiler decided to try and tuck the ball and run but was ultimately tripped up by Chargers rookie defensive end Joey Bosa. This led to a 4th down attempt that ended with an incomplete pass to Braxton Miller.
After the defense was able to, yet again, prevent the Chargers from running out the clock, it gave Osweiler a chance to be able to run a 2 minute drill down the field to try and get some points. Osweiler did not disappoint, making several crucial completions and a 15 yard run downfield that ultimately led to another Nick Novak field goal, making it 21-13. By something of a miracle, the Texans were then able to recover an onside kick, allowing the Texans offense one more opportunity to tie the game with a touchdown and 2 point conversion. With Osweiler’s big arm, there was definitely a chance for the Texans to take a shot downfield and make this happen. However, instead of throwing the ball to one of his receivers, he slings it as hard as possible right into the hand of another Chargers defender, and the game ends with another unfortunate Texans loss.
Final Take: The good news from this game is that Osweiler was able to find open receivers at times, which led to him having 246 passing yards; this is the 2nd week in a row where he has been able to throw for over 200 yards. There were also times were Osweiler was able to use his legs to not only elude the pass rush, but he was also to scramble at times for extra yardage when he needed to.
The bad news comes in the form of the 3 interceptions. While we can chalk up the first interception to excellent ball skills by Casey Hayward, the other 2 picks thrown were unacceptable. Down 21-10, it’s one thing to have a short pass that is off the mark but to overthrow the football past your wide open tight end and have it drop into the hands of a safety is inexcusable. Also, on the last play of the game, you will see that when Osweiler throws the ball to the end zone, none of his receivers were in the end zone to prepare and try to catch it; it was as if he had already conceded the game.
Final Grade: F+
In preparation for next week I would say that it’s all about decision making. Brock was able to string some drives together, but his 59% completion rate and three interceptions is clear evidence that he made too many mistakes for his team to win. I would also like to see him utilized as a runner more, whether it’s a bootleg near the redzone, or play action pass. It’s going to be up to Greg Godsey to make sure Osweiler puts this game behind him, that way he can utilize the 26 year old quarterback to the best of his abilities.