On Sunday the Houston Texans benched their new 72 million dollar Quarterback Brock Osweiler in favor of the unproven (and not nearly as highly paid) Tom Savage. Since the Texans are actually still legit in the hunt for the playoffs, unlike my favorite squad the New Orleans Saints, I decided to check myself to see : Did Osweiler really deserve being benched?
Before jumping into any additional insight I can provide, let’s just look at the raw season numbers on the ESPN leaderboard.
- Osweiler is 30th out of the 31 qualified quarterbacks for QBR with an average rating of 71.64
- Osweiler is 29/31 Quarterbacks for average passing yards per game with a paltry 193/game
- Osweiler is 27/31 Quarterbacks for completion percentage- completing only 59.6% of his passes. Only 4 Quarterbacks have completion %s that are less than 60%
- Osweiler is tied with Blake Bortles for second in interceptions with 16 on the season.
- Osweiler is tied for 23rd for TDs with 14 – 2 less than the number of interceptions he’s thrown.
So on first glance at the season statistics you can see that yes, the Texans made the right move. Statistically his season is among the 3-5 worst out of all 2016 quarterbacks.
However this doesn’t necessarily mean that the Texans can’t be successful in spite of Osweiler, look at Peyton Manning last year for example. He finished with a QBR of 67.9 and a 9-17 TD-INT ratio in 10 games, but he led the Broncos to an 8-2 record in those games. Compare that to Osweiler’s record of 6-4 through his first 10 games with a 68.53 QBR and a TD-INT ratio of 9-10.
One might wonder, did the Texans win 8 games in spite of Osweiller?
Let’s take a look at his stats in wins. In wins, including the win in which he was benched, Osweiler has a QBR of 73.1 and averaged 187.75 YDS/GM.
This is shocking because if you only consider Texans wins:
He would still rank 30th out of 31 qualified quarterbacks in QBR and Yards/GM !
Additionally, his TD-INT ratio in these games was 10-10. So basically even in wins, Osweiler played poorly. Osweiler’s best win came against the Colts in week 6 when he had a QBR of 90.7 (out of a maximum possible 158.3) but this went against a Colts defense that’s given up the 6th most passing yards and tied for the 3rd least interceptions in the NFL.
However the trend also has an impact in his benching, as evidenced in the graph below of his game by game QBR in wins and losses.
The blue line here represents the average passer rating (=90.9) for all qualified QBs in the NFL. Osweiler only had one game above the league average QBR (and two above the league median on 90.4). This game came in a loss in week 12 – the Texans third loss in a row – and were followed by two sub 60 QBR and multi INT games that somehow ended in wins. In his last 4 games, he recorded a QBR below 60 in 3 of them.
Osweiler threw more touchdowns than interceptions in only 4 of the 14 games he started this season. Osweiler never threw for more than 300 yards, topping out at 269 against the Colts (He threw for 268 against the Chiefs in week 2). But aside from the whole body of work that was sub par, he performed even more poorly in the past 5 weeks taking the Texans from 6-3 to 8-6 (and the two wins came in spite of him). The Texans were right to try something new.
Now I’m just hoping the Texans make the playoffs and somehow the Saints pull off a miracle and make it in.
-Andrew G Chapple