Sports

Can Osweiler eliminate mistakes and help Texans to playoffs?

Houston Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler is hit by San Diego Chargers' Melvin Ingram as he throws during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)

Houston Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler is hit by San Diego Chargers' Melvin Ingram as he throws during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)

HOUSTON — Brock Osweiler was supposed to be the man to end Houston's years of quarterback woes. Instead, he's thrown more interceptions (13) than touchdowns (12) and has often failed to move the offence .

So now the question for the Texans (6-5) is if Osweiler can improve and help Houston secure a playoff berth? Osweiler threw three interceptions on Sunday against the Chargers as Houston lost for the second straight week. Despite their recent tough stretch the Texans remain one-half game ahead of Tennessee in the AFC South.

Coach Bill O'Brien scoffed at the notion of benching Osweiler on Sunday and refused to criticize his quarterback on Monday. He also lamented that quarterbacks and head coaches take the brunt of the criticism when teams are struggling.

"Could Brock have done some things better? Absolutely," O'Brien said about Sunday. "Could the offensive line have played better? Could I have coached better? Absolutely. It's a team sport. Brock is our starting quarterback and that's the way it is."

He wasn't interested in breaking down the play of his quarterback, snapping when asked areas in which Osweiler's made progress and places he needs to improve.

"I'm not going to dissect ... each player (and) what areas they need to do a better job in," he said. "I mean, we could be here all day. Every player on our team — we have a great locker room. They're all looking to improve in any way that they can."

Though O'Brien blamed Houston's offensive struggles on a variety of things, including his coaching, the numbers paint a clear picture of Osweiler's trouble. Expectations were high for Osweiler when Houston signed him to a $72 million contract this off-season to lure him away from Denver. He's had moments when he's looked good, but his inconsistent play has made it difficult to understand why the Texans invested so much in him.

Houston ranks 31st by averaging 195.9 yards passing a game and Osweiler's 13 interceptions are tied for most in the NFL. He hasn't had much success throwing downfield and has completed just two passes of 40 yards or longer. His 22 completions of 20 yards or longer are tied for 28th in the NFL. He's averaging just 5.8 yards a completion, which is not much more than running back Lamar Miller is averaging a carry (4.2).

Osweiler has one of the worst passer ratings in the NFL among starters at 72.2. His rating isn't even close to the likes of Tom Brady (116.7), Matt Ryan (114.3) or even Dallas rookie Dak Prescott (108.6).

While O'Brien downplayed Osweiler's role in Houston's loss to the Chargers, the quarterback was quick to accept blame for letting the game get away.

"Obviously, (Sunday) did not go the way we wanted it to," Osweiler said. "I'm going to put that on my shoulders. I believe our team played great football, but I did not. I know we can accomplish what we want to, and we'll keep plugging away."

Despite his acknowledgment that his play was a big reason for Sunday's loss, his teammates remain confident in his ability to help Houston wrap up a second straight division title.

"No matter what's being said about him outside of here, he comes in with the same attitude and the same positivity every day," left tackle Duane Brown said. "So, he's a great leader. We definitely have a lot of confidence in him."

Osweiler and the Texans get their next chance when they begin a two-game stretch on the road with a trip to Green Bay. They'll look to win just their second road game this season when they meet the Packers after losing four of five away from Houston so far.

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