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Brock Osweiler is Not the QB Houston Needs

The Houston Texans just locked up Brock Osweiler on a four year, $72 million contract. That leaves the Denver Broncos without a starting quarterback. I think Houston lost this transaction and Denver is actually better off now than they were with Osweiler.

Osweiler played in the shadow of the legendary Peyton Manning, for the Super Bowl winning Denver Broncos, which probably accounts for his relatively high profile. He also got benched for the nothing-left-in-the-tank-about-to-retire Manning. I don’t think Denver will miss him, and I also think Houston would have been better served with a different QB.

Here’s why.

From the NFL Career Graphs App.


Denver likely has to pick its next QB from one of these guys. But I’m not sure that’s so bad. Okay, Osweiler is the youngest. But age is maybe less relevant for QBs than for other positions. And despite learning from Manning and throwing to Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, his numbers don’t distinguish themselves from rest of the field.

Let’s turn to Pro Football Reference’s Advanced Passing Stats. QBs are scored vs. league average; 100 is average, higher is better.

Hoyer 15369961031029110711199103
Kaepernick 1524484878084751086983
Osweiler 1527598989596891058995
Fitzpatrick 155629397104861129612298
Mike Glennon 1420395969581105939393

Things are fairly even across the board, but Osweiler trails noticeably in TD rate, INT rate, and Sack rate.1 None of these QBs are anything special, but even with that frame of reference, Osweiler doesn’t stand out.

How about per-attempt efficiency over the past two seasons?2

Ryan Fitzpatrick 870 378.2 0.43 140.32 0.16
Brian Hoyer 805 326.97 0.41 85.83 0.11
Brock Osweiler 284 121.34 0.43 20.42 0.07
Colin Kaepernick 720 302.64 0.42 36.64 0.05
Mike Glennon 602 251.24 0.42 70.68 0.12

Well, that doesn’t seem to favor Osweiler either. On an expected points per-attempt basis, each of these QBs has received nearly identically valued workloads. Only Osweiler and Kaepernick have managed to stink it up in efficiency per attempt. Osweiler’s 0.07 per attempt mark matches Shaun Hill and Nick Foles.3 Meanwhile, Hoyer and Glennon are in a tier with Matt Stafford and Matt Ryan, while Fitzpatrick’s mark matches Drew Brees – and Kirk Cousins, whom I also like.

At this point you’re probably wondering why I’ve included Colin Kaepernick in this article. Here’s why.

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Kaepernick has had big struggles as a passer. But as a runner he offers something Osweiler can’t possibly do. Kaepernick is also under contract – a contract that costs a lot less than Osweiler’s. For that matter, Robert Griffin is available and may cost even less than Kaepernick.

So what exactly makes Houston feel good about Osweiler? If you can pinpoint something – I can’t – are you sure it’s worth what they spent to sign him? I’m not.

Ultimately, I think Denver will sign one of these other QBs, and will win this scenario. I think Fitzgerald and Hoyer are more serviceable than given credit for, and I think Kaepernick and maybe Robert Griffin have potential, if unlikely, ceilings much higher than Osweiler. Even Mike Glennon appears comparable to Osweiler, and if traded for will certainly cost Denver much less than Osweiler is costing Houston.

In any case, Houston is now stuck with Osweiler. Word is that coach Bill O’Brien really knows how to coach up a QB. But if that’s true, then they could have gone even cheaper and gotten similar results from coaching up one of these other signal callers. I don’t think Osweiler’s presence helps or hinders DeAndre Hopkins or Lamar Miller from a fantasy perspective. But I don’t think Osweiler’s presence helps Houston from a real-life perspective either.

The same goes for Denver, where I think all of these guys will produce results in line with what could have been achieved with Osweiler at the helm – except Denver will be doing it for less money. In other words, no change in the fantasy values of Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, but more cap space for the Broncos.

  1. Higher is better, meaning the QB gets sacked less often.  (back)
  2. 2014 and 2015 for everyone except Glennon, for whom I’m using 2013 and 2014.  (back)
  3. For QBs with more than 200 attempts in the past two seasons.  (back)

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