Better fit for Brock Osweiler: Broncos or Texans?
The Brock Osweiler sweepstakes looks like it is coming down to a head-to-head battle between the Denver Broncos and Houston Texans, now that each has a clear vacancy at the position. How would the free-agent quarterback fit with each team?
In theory — although we didn’t see as much of it last year with Peyton Manning as starting QB — Denver’s offense likes to work with a lot of roll-outs off of the outside-zone running game. Think back to Matt Schaub in Houston when he ran this offense well, or Joe Flacco in Baltimore before Kubiak brought it to Denver. Osweiler is not immobile, but nor is he exactly Aaron Rodgers out there on the move.
Osweiler’s career actually only features 18 attempts on roll-outs, and he has completed 11 of them for 130 yards and a score, but how he projects to this Kubiak offense (in that aspect, at least) is pure speculation, except to say he is probably a more natural athlete on the move at this point than Manning was last season.
Denver does at least have more than one legitimate receiving weapon on its roster, with Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders giving him options with the ball that he wouldn’t have in Houston. The run game would be something of a wash until Denver can revive its offensive line. C.J. Anderson has shown elite play in flashes, but struggled in 2015 when the Denver line was not at its best.
How much protection Osweiler could rely upon in Denver remains a question mark, with that unit in flux. The line was largely hidden by Manning’s ability to get the ball out quickly last season. When Osweiler was under center, the Broncos line surrendered an average of 16.4 total pressures per game, compared to just 9.1 when Manning was there.
The Texans surrendered 177 total pressures last season on the O-line, which tied them for the seventh-best pass-blocking efficiency in the league. Denver’s line was not good a year ago and Osweiler at least in theory would be walking into an upgrade when it comes to pass-protection, if he came to Houston.
The down side is that the Texans only really have DeAndre ‘Nuk’ Hopkins as a legitimate weapon in the passing game. He is a high level receiver, ending the season trailing only Antonio Brown and Julio Jones in PFF receiving grade, but he can’t do it all on his own — and it doesn’t do Osweiler’s development any good being locked in to only one receiver at all times.
The running game in Houston has always been the bedrock of what they do on offense, but the team is moving on from Arian Foster, leaving it with a stable of unproven backs to carry the load, unless the Texans draft one or add one in free agency.
In summary, neither of these teams provide ideal situations for Osweiler, but the fact that Denver has an elite defense that was good enough to win a Super Bowl despite quarterback play no better than what Osweiler is likely to produce makes the Broncos a slightly better fit.