The Denver Broncos know Texans’ quarterback Brock Osweiler very well. As they try to snap their two-game losing streak, they must use what they know to shut down his offensive options and take him out of the game. And to do that, the key is for Von Miller and Shane Ray – if DeMarcus Ware isn’t back by Monday night – to get as much pressure as they can.
Osweiler is the type of quarterback who always looks a bit nervous in the pocket. Even when there’s no pressure. His feet are moving, he’s trying to decide if it’s time to tuck and run or throw. He’s frantically trying to make his reads and find the right wideout.
It’s hard to blame him. A lot has been asked of him with this $72 million contract, and he’s trying to live up to it. That’s on his mind all of the time.
The Broncos can capitalize on that nervousness by getting relentless pressure. Osweiler skipped out on every chance to go back and see his old team this offseason, but he has to see them now on the field. He knows what they can do. He was there when they hammered Andrew Luck so hard he was out for the year when they beat up MVP Cam Newton and made his offense look nothing like the No. 1 unit in the NFL.
He’ll be worried when they’re coming for him.
In the game against the Colts – which the Texans won, erasing a late 14-point deficit – Osweiler was barely pressured. When he was, though, he melted. On 40 dropbacks, he got pressured just seven times. He threw five incomplete passes, took a sack, and completed only one pass.
It’s also worth noting that six of those pressures came in the first half when the Colts were controlling the game. They accounted for the sack and all five incompletions. The Texans stormed back to win at the very end when that pressure finally let up. Just look at these reactions during the game, before anyone knew the comeback was on the way and when fans were actively leaving the stadium.
When he had time at the end, he finally was able to make some plays – and he deserves credit for that – but he could never get things together when guys were in his face. He panicked. The sense of doom surrounding the Texans in the first half is obvious.
Yes, Osweiler turned it around. He has all of the physical tools to be a great quarterback, and then some. When he doesn’t have to think and just settles in and plays confident football, he can make all of the throws. He can be what the Texans paid $72 million for.
But that first half showed exactly how you beat him. It was a blueprint from a lousy defense on how you make those physical tools irrelevant by getting in his head and mentally knocking him off his game. The Broncos’ pass rush is so much better than the Colts’; it’s not even close. They can have Osweiler feeling like that all game long. The actual sack count may not even matter if he’s running for his life and overthrowing DeAndre Hopkins over and over again.
You already know Osweiler’s nerves are going to play into this game as he goes up against his old team. He doesn’t want to take the hits he watched Denver dish out every week last year. You also know that he takes sacks and throws incompletions and picks when he’s under pressure. Even if the Broncos can’t quite get home, getting close will make him rush those throws, and that’s how the defense can completely shut him down.