20 August, 2016: Houston Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler (17) following the preseason NFL game between the New Orleans Saints and the Houston Texans game at NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas. (Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire)
Houston Texans

Osweiler, Texans aren’t quite ready for prime time

Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire

If Dennis Green were still around he might have warned us about “crowning” the Houston Texans a little prematurely.

Instead, it took the brilliance of New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick to highlight the fact that the Texans, while still an up-and-coming club, are not quite ready for prime time.

And just like the original not-ready-for-prime-time players on “Saturday Night Live” back in the 1970s, there is plenty of talent available to Bill O’Brien but there are also rough edges that need to be smoothed over if the Texans want to play with the big boys.

After all, when you lose 27-0 it’s not really about the opposing quarterback because whether the name is Brady, Garoppolo or Brissett, the bottom line of the whitewash by definition is you didn’t play well enough offensively to beat anyone under center.

Defensively, it wasn’t Houston’s best night by any stretch, but it also wasn’t a disaster if you place the performance in some context. There were certainly some discipline breakdowns, most notably on Jacoby Brissett’s 27-yard misdirection TD run in the first quarter and LeGarrette Blount’s 41-yard scoring scamper in garbage time late.

But, Brissett was only 11-of-19 for 103 yards in his first start and allowing two TDs on very short fields due to fumbles on kickoff returns is something that needs to be cleaned up by special teams coordinator Larry Izzo, not defensive chief Romeo Crennel.

In the big picture, the Texans still sport a dominating front seven (even though J.J. Watt is clearly not himself after recent back surgery), one of the better cornerback trios in football, and a solid plan to get off the field on third downs.

The quarterback, however, still has a way to go and that should be expected despite the four-year, $72 million deal the Texans handed to Brock Osweiler.

Houston has done the right things by surrounding its quarterback with solid skill-position talent after adding an every-down back in Lamar Miller and deep threat Will Fuller as the complement to Pro Bowl receiver DeAndre Hopkins, but that doesn’t mean Osweiler isn’t going to endure some hiccups.

The 6-foot-7 signal caller didn’t have much experience in Denver — seven starts in four years — and he was clearly confused by what Belichick and Matt Patricia were throwing at him, especially identifying coverage off the deep drops of athletic linebacker Jamie Collins.

It was generally cover-two with Collins playing the role of Derrick Brooks or Brian Urlacher, usually a simple defense to dissect but because it’s not run nearly as much as it used to be, it’s becoming almost exotic to QBs who don’t have a ton of experience dealing with it

The Texans’ offense didn’t cross the 50 until late in the third quarter and six punts, three fourth-down failures, an interception, and the two fumbled kickoff returns equaled shutout.

“Certainly, this is not how we wanted the football game to go,” Osweiler admitted. “I felt like we had a great week of preparation. I felt like the entire team was very focused on the game plan. Everyone was working really hard during the week, so this is hard to take. Bottom line, New England had a great game plan. They came out and played a hell-of-a game. They deserve all the credit in the world and we’ll bounce back from this one.”

Those railing on the big-money signal caller, however, and claiming he “lost” to a rookie quarterback on a short week making his first NFL start are being obtuse because this is the ultimate team game and plenty of Osweiler’s teammates contributed to the setback on Thursday night.

That said, from the outside, looking in Belichick and Patricia just gave the rest of the AFC South the blueprint to deal with a lanky quarterback who has an elongated delivery and remains a bit slow to process information and get through his progressions.

“I’ll examine this tape very closely [and] I will become a better quarterback from this experience,” Osweiler claimed. “But, the bottom line is that I needed to play better to allow our team to have an opportunity to try to win the ballgame.”

-John McMullen is a national football columnist for FanRagSports.com and TodaysPigskin.com. You can reach him at [email protected] or on Twitter @JFMcMullen — Also catch John each week during the NFL season ESPN South Jersey, ESPN Southwest Florida, ESPN Lexington, KDWN in Las Vegas, and check @JFMcMullen for John’s upcoming appearances on SB Nation Radio, FOX Sports Radio, CBS Sports Radio as well as dozens of local radio stations across North America.

Osweiler, Texans aren’t quite ready for prime time

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