Living in the shadows of The Great Peyton Manning is something Houston Texans QB Brock Osweiler just didn’t want to do anymore. He already saw the results of Manning mania in an emotionally draining 2015-16 season.
He got the Super Bowl ring, but from the sidelines. He did all of the late-season grunt work, but when the playoff lights came on, he was relegated to holding the clipboard and Manning skated off with his second c'hip and all the glory.
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Osweiler was just a casualty of much larger historical circumstances. History and fate said it wasn’t his time. However, with Manning officially retired and the team in tact, Osweiler could have easily just signed with Denver in the offseason and been the guy to lead them on their quest for back-to-back Super Bowls.
Instead, he had enough of the Manning shadow. He knew that he’d be fighting those comparisons and the haunting success of last year’s Super Bowl for the rest of his Denver career.
Signing for $72 million with the QB-strapped Texans was a no-brainer.
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And despite a tough 27-20 loss to the surging Raiders on Monday night, as the dust clears and Manning has left the NFL building, Osweiler has staved off criticism for leaving Denver and failing to be a super stud so far in Houston. Bottom line is he’s the starting QB for a team that is in first place in the AFC South at 6-4.
This is actually Brock’s first real shot at success with no strings attached.
Last season, a broken and depleted Peyton was benched in November for the young Osweiler after throwing four picks in a game.
Osweiler was able to hold it down and he proved to be more effective moving the ball than the aging icon. Unfortunately, despite Osweiler’s superior play, he was just one bad break away from relinquishing the job to Manning, who had the heart of the fans and the marketing hopes of the NFL and ownership behind him.
In the Broncos' regular-season finale, on Jan. 3, 2016 Osweiler was replaced by Manning in the third quarter after throwing two interceptions and fumbling. A rested Manning turned back the clock and led the Broncos to a 27–20 win over the San Diego Chargers and helped the Broncos secure the top seed in the AFC.
On January 7, the team conveniently announced Osweiler suffered a low-grade strain to the medial collateral ligament of his right knee during that same game.
Osweiler was shelved for the playoffs, Manning was reinstated and though a shell of his former self, Peyton did enough and the Broncos defense did the rest to win Super Bowl 50. The baton was officially passed on the field from Manning to Cam Newton, the NFL's new marketing darling.
That Super Bowl, how it was framed and how it was won, was bigger than Osweiler’s progression into a bonafide NFL signal-caller. The money and effort that John Elway and the Denver hierarchy put into securing Manning for the sole purpose of winning a Super Bowl was the reason that letting Manning return to the starting spot was even an issue.
They all wanted to do it with their big fish on the field.
The Broncos and Manning accomplished their mission, but at Osweiler’s expense. In Houston, Osweiler has center stage to himself.
Sure, his 12 TDs and 10 picks are a concern, but at 26-years-old, the 6-foot-7 QB shows a knack for winning games and the Texans are going to ride him until the wheels fall off.
And why not? Winning QBs are hard to find in the NFL.