The Houston Texans haven’t had a quarterback light it up on the stat sheet since Matt Schaub was quarterbacking them over half a decade ago. And they don’t need their new quarterback to do that for them in order to win now.
Would the Texans like to have Brock Osweiler come out and dominate the Chicago Bears defense on Sunday? Absolutely. That would make everything easier on their team.
But do they need him to have an explosive performance in order to get out of Week 1 with a 1-0 record? Not necessarily.
Houston went undefeated in the preseason without Osweiler going off for big numbers. That in itself isn’t something to brag about, but it did show that the Texans could win without having Osweiler carry the team. He didn’t put up gaudy numbers in any of his games during the preseason, combining to complete 27 of his 39 passes (69.2 percent) for 297 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception.
The preseason is one thing. The regular season is a completely different monster altogether.
Osweiler never saw a game to completion in the preseason. He made three starts but never finished a game. That’s the nature of the preseason. But the Texans showed last season that they can win with mediocre to average quarterback play as long as their quarterback takes care of the ball.
Brian Hoyer was anything but spectacular as Houston’s quarterback last season, but he limited his turnovers and managed the offense efficiently — throwing only seven interceptions on 369 pass attempts. That’s a ridiculously low 1.8 interception percentage.
In his eight games played last season, Osweiler had just a 2.2 interception percentage. He threw six picks in 275 attempts, and had a slightly higher completion percentage than Hoyer (61.8 percent compared to 60.7 percent). Osweiler has shown in minimal playing time that he can be as effective, if not more so, than Hoyer was last season.
And the reason why Osweiler, or any Houston quarterback, doesn’t have to throw for 4,000 yards and 35-plus touchdowns to get the Texans to the playoffs? That stout defense.
Houston’s defense was solid last season, and it figures to only get better this year. Then there’s what should be an improved running game at Osweiler’s disposal as well. Lamar Miller didn’t play a great deal in the preseason, but he looked better than Houston’s other options at running back. Alfred Blue has historically been much more effective in a backup role, and rookie Tyler Ervin brings a completely different skill-set at running back than the Texans have had in a while.
All of this bodes well for Houston’s opening game against Chicago.
The Bears had the 22nd-ranked rush defense last season and had an inefficient offense. Their defense as a whole failed to force many turnovers, earning just 17 takeaways last season, ranking 28th in the NFL.
The term “game manager” has taken on a negative connotation. Many times, fans use it to describe a quarterback who can’t replicate Drew Brees or Tom Brady-like stats. But a true game manager quarterback is one who knows how to effectively run an offense and knows what’s best for that offense to succeed. In that respect, Osweiler appears to be just that type of quarterback.
Osweiler is athletic enough to evade defenders and buy some time to make throws. Will he ever wow fans with his running ability? Probably not. But what he can do with his feet shouldn’t be discounted. He also won’t make many mistakes, something any good quarterback should be able to do.
All in all, Osweiler is more than capable to lead the Texans to another AFC South title. He’s not the NFL’s greatest quarterback right now, but he’s far from incompetent.
The Texans made it to the playoffs last year with less, so they can do it again this year. And they don’t need Osweiler to have a big game to start the season either.