HOUSTON, Texas – The roller-coaster year of Brock Osweiler has hit a new low. The Texans have benched the quarterback from Kalispell after another poor performance on Sunday.
Osweiler threw two interceptions in his first 11 passes versus Jacksonville, and left the game with Houston trailing 13-0 in the second quarter. Tom Savage came in and threw for 260 yards, helping the Texans come back to win 21-20.
Monday, head coach Bill O’Brien made it official. Savage will start versus Cincinnati this Saturday. And Osweiler, who signed a four-year contract with $37 million guaranteed this offseason, moves back to the backup role he held the past four years in Denver.
“As a competitor, any time you don’t play well, you get pulled out of a game, of course there’s disappointment,” admitted Osweiler after the game. “That’s a natural human reaction. And also there’s disappointment because you want to be your best for your teammates. I love this football team.”
“Any decision that we make here is always made in the best interest of the team,” said O’Brien, who also praised Osweiler for his work ethic and for being a good teammate while making the announcement to start Savage. “At that point in time I just felt like that was the best decision at that point in time for the team. We don’t make decisions on how much a guy gets paid. We make decisions on what’s the best way to win a game.”
“Unfortunately I’ve been down this road before,” said Osweiler. He started seven games for the Broncos last season while Peyton Manning was injured. But in the final game of the regular season, Manning replaced a struggling Osweiler and kept the quarterback job all the way through a Denver Super Bowl win. “I understand what it’s like to get benched in the middle of a football game. Ultimately having a big-picture view on the deal, it’s all about the next man up and being a great teammate.”
Houston’s win keeps the Texans in first place in the AFC South Division with an 8-6 record. But Tennessee is also 8-6, and Indianapolis is 7-7. So the Texans will probably need to win their final two games to get into the postseason.
Meanwhile, Osweiler’s old team also has an 8-6 record. But the Broncos are suddenly long shots to make the playoffs. Denver only scored three points in a home loss to New England. And NFL.com reports that afterward, members of the defense got into a shouting match with offensive players in the locker room, and head coach Gary Kubiak had to break it up.
Both the Texans and Broncos have relied on strong defenses. Neither offense has helped much. Osweiler struggled through 14 games, with 14 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. The quarterbacks in Denver that stepped in when Osweiler left and Manning retired have been a bit better, with 18 touchdowns and 9 picks. But both teams are in the bottom third of the league in points per game. Denver scores 21.5, while Houston has only managed 18 points a contest.