It’s a balmy mid-May evening in Houston, Texas. Today, Houston Texans star JJ Watt hosts his annual charity softball game at Minute Maid Park, which features dozens of Texans players trying their talents at a different game. One hundred and twenty days separate today and the Texans’ home opener in September, but thousands of fans are in attendance to catch a glimpse of their favorite players, and the newest additions to the Texans’ team. Suddenly, the announcer introduces the next hitter, and the entire stadium erupts in a deafening celebration. From the dugout emerges a tall, handsome man, looking like a Western hero with a newly purchased Cowboy hat on top of his head. The man is no other than the new Texans quarterback, Brock Osweiler. Fans whistle and cheer from afar, but stand anxiously, hoping Osweiler will be able to lead Houston to an elusive Super Bowl title.
Houston is football. A cliché? Yes, but consider the magnitude of football in the city. It dominates front pages, column inches, bar chatter, and television segments. Baseball and basketball occupy minds during the winter and spring, but an excitement courses through the city’s veins at beginning of August. It begins a weekly anticipation, and brings life to hopeful fans. Football begins and the world spins correctly once again. Forever and always, Houston will be a football city. Along with its cultural importance, Houston housed some of football’s best at their peaks. Famous names like Campbell, Moon, Phillips, Matthews, Bethea, and more recently, Watt and Johnson, all etched their name into greatness in Houston and embodied the city’s character in a way other athletes or coaches haven’t.
Houston certainly prides itself on football, but the sport seems to always laugh in its face. Whether it was the Luv Ya’ Blue Oilers or the energized Texans, football has tortured Houstonians. While it may not be at the level of Cleveland (it couldn’t get any worse), it comes close. In fact, even with the immense amount of football talent that has walked through the city, not a single team has competed in a Super Bowl. Take for example, the Oilers who broke the hearts of Houston football fans in a way no other team has.
In the 1980s, the Oilers disappointed their fans with consistent losing records and an increasingly stale atmosphere at the Astrodome. However, the luck seemed to immediately change in the late ’80s when the team landed CFL quarterback Warren Moon. Moon became a legend throughout Texas with his electric arm that knifed through NFL defenses in the Oilers’ “Run and Shoot” offense. After being bounced by John Elway and the Denver Broncos in the divisional round in 1991, the Oilers seemed poised for success in 1992. Again under Moon, the team excelled and compiled a 10-6 record and a playoff berth. With a potent offense and the third ranked defense in the NFL, the Oilers traveled to Buffalo in an AFC Wild Card game with a chance to make a deep playoff push. The team came out on fire and gathered a 32 point lead in the first half and could no wrong. Infamously, The Oilers proceeded to squander the lead in the second half and lose to the Buffalo Bills in overtime. Shortly after, the team faded into the background and moved to Nashville, Tennessee. “The Comeback” defined Houston football for more than a decade.
Football returned to Houston in 2002 with the Houston Texans, and the expectations rose at their inception. An expansion franchise, the Texans were granted the number one overall pick in the 2002 draft and selected the prolific quarterback from Fresno State, David Carr. With Carr, owner Bob McNair imagined he picked his franchise quarterback of the next ten to fifteen years. More than a decade later, Carr’s selection has left a gaping hole at quarterback for the Texans that they have never really answered. From career backup Sage Rosenfels to trade acquisition Matt Schaub, the Texans tried everything to find their real franchise quarterback. In 2016, Texans fans sit with more questions than answers about the position that matters most.
Under these conditions steps in Brock Osweiler. At the beginning of free agency, Osweiler signed a 4 year, 72 million dollar contract to become the Texans new franchise quarterback. With a financial investment like that, GM Rick Smith and Head Coach Bill O’Brien are counting on Osweiler to be the man of the future. He will have to fill a void, which has loomed over this franchise since its inception in 2002. Needless to say it will be a tall task, even for a guy who stands at 6’8″. The good news for Houston fans: Osweiler may just be the perfect fit to fill in. Although Osweiler comes in with heavy skepticism from NFL critics, there are three reasons he can lead this Houston Texans team to a Super Bowl.
1. Physical Tools/Athleticism
Standing at 6’8″, 240 pounds, Osweiler has the size that NFL scouts drool over. As proven by his play already, his big frame allows him to see over the line of scrimmage and make throws that other quarterbacks cannot see or make due to a lack of physical presence in the pocket. Osweiler also carries good weight on his frame, which allows him to take hits in the pocket or tuck the ball and run in scrambling situations. What Texans fans will love the most is that Osweiler will be able to make all the throws in Bill O’Brien’s offense. Unlike the quarterback carousel that unraveled a year ago, Osweiler has all the physical tools to throw the ball anywhere on the field and immediately gives the Texans more play calling flexibility. Even if Osweiler plays like he did in Denver, he gives the Texans a bigger advantage on offense than an underwhelming Brian Hoyer or Ryan Mallett did. In addition to his throwing ability, defenses have to respect Osweiler’s ability to run the football. He’s not necessarily a dual threat quarterback like Russell Wilson or even Aaron Rodgers, but he shows good mobility in the pocket and can find the first down marker if he’s left open. His athleticism also allows him to elude pressure from defensive ends or get outside the pocket on designed bootlegs. Bottom line, Osweiler’s physical tools alone give the Texans a better option than they had in Brian Hoyer or even with Matt Schaub.
2. He’s Young, But has Meaningful Game Experience
At 25 years old, the Texans picked up Osweiler while he was at his physical peak. If Osweiler performs up to the lofty expectations set before him, he could easily anchor the Texans franchise for the next ten years. More importantly though, the Texans didn’t just sign an unproven, drafted rookie. Osweiler comes to Houston as a proven winner in big games and led the Broncos to their playoff push in the back half of the 2015 campaign. The situation is entirely different from Matt Schaub when he came to Houston. Prior to his arrival, Schaub’s greatest statistical season came in the year before he was traded where he threw for 208 yards on 18 completions. Osweiler, on the other hand, comes to Houston after a 2015 campaign where he recorded 1,967 yards on 170 completions with 10 touchdowns. Unlike past attempts at signing quarterbacks, Osweiler clearly comes to the Texans with valuable game experience, even as a back up. More impressive is the fact that Osweiler played against playoff-caliber competition and helped the Broncos to a playoff berth. This included wins against Bengals and Patriots, and a four touchdown performance in the first half against the Pittsburg Steelers. Osweiler comes to Houston with skins on the wall.
3. His Supporting Cast is Elite
The best news for Osweiler when he arrives in Houston is that he comes in with the best team in the AFC South, and a contender in the AFC. He arrives on a team that finished third in the entire NFL on defense and fields one of the best defensive lines in the league with two players that recorded double digit sacks last season (Whitney Mercilus and JJ Watt). On the offensive side of the ball, GM Rick Smith gives Osweiler incredible tools to utiilize. By signing Lamar Miller, the Texans significantly improved their backfield and signed a player who can carry the ball 20-25 times per game. In addition to Miller, Osweiler will have one of the best receivers in the entire league, DeAndre Hopkins, at his diposal. Even with a horrible quarterback situation, Hopkins managed to compile 111 catches and 1,521 yards in 2015 in a record breaking year. The Texans offensive line projects to be much better in 2016 by adding veteran Jeff Allen and rookie Nick Martin to stable producers like Duane Brown and Derek Newton. If you factor in new draft picks Will Fuller and Braxton Miller at receiver, Osweiler is arguably surrounded by some of the best offensive talent in the entire AFC. Osweiler won’t be asked to be a top five NFL quarterback, and he certainly has the weapons to around him to excel in Bill O’Brien’s offense.
With Brock Osweiler at the helm, fans hope he can bring Houston the Super Bowl championship that has eluded them for so long. The 2016 season is far away, and there are many factors that could still change the dynamic of the Texans’ season; however, one thing is for certain in 2016 for Osweiler. The city of Houston will be watching.
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