If the Denver Broncos’ offseason plan had worked, they’d be paying Brock Osweiler $16 million per season to be their quarterback.
The story is getting twisted a bit. Some people like to believe Broncos general manager John Elway made a brilliant move by kicking Osweiler out of town. That didn’t happen. The Broncos offered Osweiler $16 million per season over four seasons with $30 million guaranteed, according to the Denver Post. They clearly wanted Osweiler back, at a huge salary.
In other words, it looks like the Broncos dodged a bullet.
As we know, another team was even more desperate. After watching Brian Hoyer fall apart in a playoff loss, Houston Texans owner Bob McNair made it clear his team was going to be adding a new quarterback. That’s not easy in the NFL. You often have to overpay to get a quarterback, and the Texans did. They gave $18 million per year to Osweiler.
The gamble was understandable. The Texans were doing fairly well under Bill O’Brien with poor quarterback play. If they could upgrade the position to something mediocre, maybe they could take the next step. And the contract numbers were almost beside the point; either the Texans had to overpay or they wouldn’t have landed Osweiler.
Maybe at this point the Texans wish the Broncos had upped their offer. Osweiler hit rock bottom on Sunday. The Minnesota Vikings have a very good defense, but Osweiler was bad. He completed just 19-of-42 passes for 184 yards. And almost all of those yards came after the game was practically decided. When the Vikings took a 24-0 lead 21:14 into the game, Osweiler had … seven yards.
Five games into his Texans career, Osweiler has six touchdowns, seven interceptions and a 70.6 rating. Even when the Texans had to start Hoyer, Brandon Weeden, Ryan Mallett and T.J. Yates last season, they had a 85.3 passer rating as a team. And they were paying a lot less for it.
The Texans are stuck with Osweiler at quarterback for this year and next. The Texans structured the deal so they can get out of it after two seasons, which might come in handy. But when you pay a quarterback $18 million a year, it’s incredibly hard to make a change. It would have to get really bad for them to turn to Tom Savage. But the coaching staff has to be considering it in private. Osweiler isn’t helping them right now.
Osweiler is still a young quarterback, as far as playing experience goes, and he has had a few good moments the first few weeks of the season. He could turn things around. There aren’t many excuses for him if he doesn’t. The Texans have superstar receiver DeAndre Hopkins and exciting rookie Will Fuller alongside him. Lamar Miller was a big-money acquisition at running back, although he hasn’t been good, either (is Miller struggling because of Osweiler’s failures, or is Osweiler having a tough time because the run game is so bad?).
Meanwhile the Broncos are 4-1 and, Sunday’s loss aside, they are paying their top two quarterbacks about $975,000 in base salary this season and getting pretty good production from them. They’re definitely getting better production than the Texans are from their quarterback.
If you were to call it now, the Broncos lucked out.
“A lot of times those deals you don’t make are the best ones,” Elway said in September, according to Pro Football Talk.
Here are the rest of the winners and losers from Week 5 of NFL action:
Matt Ryan’s MVP argument: It’s way too early to talk about NFL MVP (though we all do anyway), but this is also true: If you’re picking an MVP a little less than one-third into the season, it has to be Ryan.
If it looked like Ryan’s 503-yard game last week was due to Julio Jones going off for 300 yards, that’s fair. But you have to account for Sunday, too.
Ryan faced the toughest defense in the NFL on the road, and he played well despite Jones having just 29 yards. The Atlanta Falcons beat the Denver Broncos 23-16, a win that should make everyone take notice. Ryan had 267 yards on just 28 attempts, with a touchdown and no interceptions. The Broncos’ defense has made quarterbacks like Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, Andy Dalton and Jameis Winston look bad this season. Playing quarterback at Denver, against a great Broncos defense, has been just about impossible the past couple seasons. Yet Ryan did it very well.
Ryan has 12 touchdowns, two interceptions and a 121.6 rating this season, and led the Falcons to wins over both Super Bowl 50 participants in an eight-day span. He has been the best player in the NFL this season.
Joey Bosa: We waited a long, long, long time to see Bosa on an NFL field. And it was a fantastic debut.
Bosa, who famously held out through most of the preseason and then missed the San Diego Chargers’ first four games with a hamstring injury, made his debut Sunday. And the third pick of this year’s draft had two sacks.
The Chargers are having a nightmare season, but they’ll be looking for signs of hope going forward. Bosa seems to be one.
Kirk Cousins: It seems like the evaluation of Cousins will change multiple times over this season. Wherever the roulette ball lands at the very end of the season will probably influence the Washington Redskins’ contract decision with him.
And after a slow start, Cousins is looking pretty good again.
Cousins is playing on the franchise tag, and after a bad Week 2 game against the Dallas Cowboys it seemed like the Redskins might have to face the possibility of moving on when this season is done. Since then Cousins isn’t exactly lighting the NFL on fire, but he’s looking more like a viable starter. The past three weeks he has posted ratings of 106.4, 116.5 and 85.4, all in Washington wins.
Cousins wasn’t great on Sunday, but he was also fighting very windy conditions. He completed 29-of-41 passes for 260 yards. His day would have looked a lot worse if Ravens linebacker C.J. Mosley hadn’t fumbled just before the goal line on his interception return, but overall Cousins was fine.
Right now, the roller coaster in this unusual contract season is on a plateau. We’ll see how many more downs and ups we get before it’s time to figure out what Cousins’ contract offer should look like.
Marcus Mariota: I think Mariota is a very good player who is stuck with a Tennessee Titans coaching staff that isn’t focusing on building around his talents as a potentially elite quarterback. But Mariota still has to take the blame for not making plays he needs to make early this season.
On Sunday he took a step forward.
Mariota completed 20-of-29 passes for 163 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. That’s not an incredible yardage total, but keep in mind that the Titans have given him very little receiving talent to work with, compared to other quarterbacks. The Titans also took advantage of Mariota’s running ability. He ran seven times for 60 yards and a touchdown.
Mariota still needs to improve in many ways. Presumably the Titans will start to give him some receiving help and build an offense that allows him to become a top quarterback. But Sunday’s 30-17 was a good reminder that the talent is there.
Philadelphia Eagles: Losing on the road as a 3-0 team isn’t the worst result. Especially when you lose by a point.
But the 24-23 loss to the Detroit Lions is one the Eagles might regret. Because their schedule is going to get really tough.
Here are their remaining games: at Washington, vs. Minnesota, at Dallas, at New York Giants, vs. Atlanta, at Seattle, vs. Green Bay, at Cincinnati, vs. Washington, at Baltimore, vs. Giants, vs. Cowboys. Where’s the easy game in there?
The only opponent that had a losing record heading into Sunday night’s game is Cincinnati, and that game is on the road against a Bengals team that has made the playoffs five straight years. There are 12 straight tough games on the way for the Eagles.
The Eagles have shown they can beat good teams. Ask Pittsburgh. So that schedule isn’t a death sentence. But their easiest remaining game before Sunday was probably against the Lions, and they couldn’t win it. It won’t get easier the rest of the way.
Breshad Perriman: The Baltimore Ravens’ 2015 first-round pick, who lost all of last season with a knee injury, had his first major highlight in his hands. And he was out of bounds by inches.
Late in the fourth quarter, Perriman beat All-Pro cornerback Josh Norman for what looked like a go-ahead touchdown. It was the kind of play the Ravens wanted when they drafted Perriman. It was a great effort to go up and make a nice catch against a very good cornerback. And his second foot landed just out of bounds — officials ruled it a touchdown, but it was reversed after a replay review. The Ravens couldn’t score after that and lost 16-10.
Even though Perriman barely missed out on his chance with that play, it offered hope that he can make plays like that going forward.
Jeff Fisher: Even when Fisher is riding high, he’ll eventually give you a reason to question him.
Fisher had his Los Angeles Rams off to a 3-1 start, with two very good wins. But we’ve seen that from Fisher’s Rams teams before they collapse. So it wasn’t a huge surprise that the Rams lost at home to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.
What was surprising was Fisher’s call late in the fourth quarter. Well, the Bills weren’t surprised by it, and that was the problem.
The Rams trailed 23-19 with 3:47 left in the fourth quarter. On fourth-and-5 at their own 23, the Rams called a fake punt. Fisher likes to gamble with trick plays, and this one was awful. Nobody on the Bills defense seemed fooled and they stopped receiver Bradley Marquez, who got the ball on a direct snap, for a 2-yard gain. The Bills scored a touchdown shortly after to seal the win.
Fake punts and other plays like that are judged (probably unfairly) on results. If that fake punt had gotten the first down for the Rams, we’d all be celebrating it. But it didn’t, and we aren’t.
Miami Dolphins: There have been times that Ryan Tannehill has looked like a good quarterback through his career. But by now, those memories are overwhelmed by the sight of him looking like he needs to be benched.
That won’t happen, according to Dolphins coach Adam Gase. Gase said he never considered sitting Tannehill during a terrible performance on Sunday, and Tannehill will be his starter all season.
“He’s not coming out,” Gase said, according to the Dolphins’ transcripts. “You can ask me a hundred times. He’s going to be in there the rest of this season.”
That might be accurate. If Sunday didn’t move Gase to make a move, it’s hard to figure out what would.
Tannehill is regressing at a remarkable pace. He has looked confused and inept all season. Tannehill was 12-of-18 for 191 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions in a bad loss to Tennessee. The Titans dominated the Dolphins. By the end it was clear that if the Dolphins aren’t the worst team in football, there aren’t many behind them.
It also was clear that the Dolphins probably will have to consider a quarterback change if this continues, no matter what Gase said on Sunday.
The Cowboys and Raiders are back! NFL Week 5 wrapup
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