Give Brock Osweiler credit for keeping the torches and pitchforks at bay for another week after he made Houston forget about an awful performance for the vast majority of Sunday night’s game against Indianapolis.
The $72 million man erased a 14-point deficit in the final three minutes of regulation before helping to win it in overtime with a nice 50-50 ball down the left sideline for Jaelen Strong, all of which grabbed a 26-23 Texans victory from the jaws of defeat.
In the larger picture, though, if the organization isn’t experiencing a little buyer’s remorse when it comes to Osweiler, well then Rick Smith and Bill O’Brien really don’t know how to shop.
The Texans were well on their way to a dreadful home loss to a dismal and banged-up Indianapolis team on Sunday night and Osweiler was a mess again, at one point completing just 11-of-24 passes for 89 yards and an interception against what is perhaps the worst defensive team in football, especially against the pass.
And that was particularly alarming because it’s one thing to have been an abject failure on the road against top-tier opponents (see New England and Minnesota) but Houston figured it could afford more growing pains than most because the Texans reside in a low-rent district when it comes to the NFL.
In fact, to call the AFC South the wrong side of the tracks in the league’s landscape is an insult to all those communities labeled that way in the real world.
It’s almost inconceivable that the Texans wouldn’t win this division — even minus J.J. Watt — with competent quarterback play largely because of competition even Lou Holtz couldn’t talk up with a straight face.
Even teams like the unbeaten Vikings and the mighty Patriots should have more to worry about when it comes to the postseason than the Texans team they both waxed, because that competition in the AFC South — Tennessee, Jacksonville, and Indianapolis — would all be candidates for relegation if the NFL ever felt like adopting EPL rules.
Against the Colts, though, Osweiler had one of his lesser-inspiring efforts to date despite playing a team that might be the most top-heavy in football, possessing a big-time quarterback in Andrew Luck and little else.
Swap signal callers on these two clubs and the Texans would be a legitimate Super Bowl contender and the Colts would likely be battling Cleveland and San Francisco for the right to be called the worst team in pro football.
Osweiler’s most egregious stretch came late in the third quarter when the Houston defense rose up and stopped the Colts on fouth-and-1 deep in its territory thanks to a Whitney Mercilus sack.
The momentum shifted dramatically and the fans were into to it again when Lamar Miller ripped off a 9-yard run. Osweiler then followed that by throwing the football behind DeAndre Hopkins over the middle and Vontae Davis picked it off at the Texans’ 20.
Two plays later — on the first play of the fourth quarter — Luck scrambled in from 14 yards for a TD and Indy was on top 20-9.
From there, a 14-point deficit with Osweiler under center looked insurmountable for Houston until the light went off late. Whether that was due to the QB himself or the poor secondary of the Colts is the definition of a little from column A and a little from column B.
And give Osweiler credit for making some decent throws, but there was no real indication that this guy is ready to play with the big boys, and a heart-stopping OT win against a moribund team like Indy is fool’s gold.
It’s now clear that the Texans badly overreacted to one postseason game in which Brian Hoyer admittedly stunk up the joint.
But there’s a philosophy that Smith ignored while backing up the Brink’s Truck to Osweiler’s home — Need is the worst talent evaluator in football.
You can’t fill every one of your needs every year, and if there isn’t a clear-cut upgrade at a particular position, even the most important one, make do until you finally find one.
We all understand Hoyer isn’t the future in Houston, Chicago or anywhere else for that matter, but he makes $2 million in the Windy City and the Texans are paying nine times that for an inferior player this season. Meanwhile, they are on the hook for another $18 million guaranteed on top of that.
In this division, Houston is 4-2 with Osweiler or Hoyer at this point and has likely garnered far more style points with the latter. The Texans are a serious contender with neither.
Smith could have brought Hoyer back at a cap hit of $5.8 million, gotten superior play at the position for 2016, and saved over $30 million in future outlays for when the franchise signal-caller really is available.
If that’s not buyer’s remorse, what is?
-John McMullen is a national football columnist for FanRagSports.com and TodaysPigskin.com. You can reach him at [email protected] or on Twitter @JFMcMullen — Also catch John each week during the NFL season on ESPN South Jersey, ESPN Southwest Florida, ESPN Lexington, KDWN in Las Vegas, and check @JFMcMullen for John’s upcoming appearances on SB Nation Radio, FOX Sports Radio, CBS Sports Radio as well as dozens of local radio stations across North America.