It’s been nearly three months since Brock Osweiler opted to leave Denver and sign with the Texans. Houston had money to spend and a big need to fill. They offered Osweiler $72 million ($18 per) over four years in a contract that the Texans can get out from under after two years if necessary.
We don’t know how good Osweiler will be, but I think Houston did exactly what they had to do in this situation. Yet there is still the narrative out there that the Texans have made a colossal mistake in taking a quarterback after only a seven game sample. That Houston would’ve been better off taking their chances in the draft.
Houston was picking at 22 in the first round. So, either they mortgage the farm to move up into the top 5 (aka Rams and Eagles), or they stand pat and wind up with Paxton Lynch, Christian Hackenburg, or maybe Conner Cook. It’s obvious that Bill O’Brien and Rick Smith weren’t sold on any of these guys, and they didn’t want to lose a bunch of draft picks to trade up.
O’Brien has a pretty good track record as far as working with quarterbacks. From Hackenburg’s freshman year, to his work with Brady, to somehow coaxing wins out of the Texans average QBs the last couple of years. He, along with George Godsey, have shown that they can coach up quarterbacks. I’m going to trust their judgement on this one.
So what about other quarterbacks that were available? Well, you’re talking about guys like Kaepernick, RG3, Sanchez, and Fitzpatrick among others (Manziel!). Again, Houston’s coaches didn’t have a lot of faith that any of these guys was the answer. So they targeted the guy who they thought had the biggest upside.
Is it a risky move? Of course it is. Just like using a high pick to draft a 20-year old kid is a risky move. At least they’ve seen Osweiler start, and win, NFL games. They know that he has the tools and they know he’s been mentored by Peyton Manning and John Elway. There’s no guarantee he will be great, or even good, but Houston had to make the move.
The Texans are in win now mode. They have the best defensive player in the league going into his sixth year. J.J. Watt is in his prime, but he won’t play forever. The defense, after finishing third overall a year ago, is poised to be dominant once again. Whitney Mercilus had a breakout year, Cushing is fully healthy, and Kevin Johnson and Bernardrick McKinney are promising young players.
The weakness of this team has been the offense, particularly the quarterback. Houston did what they had to do to address that. Deandre Hopkins had an outstanding 2015, but he can’t do it all. So the Texans added Lamar Miller, Tyler Ervin, Will Fuller, and Braxton Miller. And the hope is that second year WR Jaelen Strong puts it together this year.
All of the pieces are in place for Houston to be very good in the next couple of years. Will they win right away? That all depends on the development of Osweiler and the young players. It may be another year before they really hit their stride. All that being said, as a Texans fan, I am excited about the possibilities.
Image based on “A quarterback for the Denver Broncos” by Jeffrey Beall (CC BY SA-2.0)