Evaluating Brock Osweiler: Studying his performance vs. KC


New Denver Broncos starting quarterback Brock Osweiler isn’t Peyton Manning, and for the first time in his career, that’s probably a really good thing.

The Broncos are sitting Peyton Manning for this week and hopefully the foreseeable future with some injuries to his foot and ribs that he’s working through, and Osweiler is stepping into the role he was drafted for all the way back in 2012.

It could be a case of the devil you know vs. the devil you don’t, but Broncos fans are extremely hopeful for their 6-foot-7, former second round draft pick that has been patiently waiting for his time to come. Don’t worry Brock, this won’t happen to you this week…

The Broncos are counting on Osweiler to make a major difference this week against the Chicago Bears, and with just a small sample from which to choose, it’s easy to see why.

After initially replacing Manning (when he threw his fourth INT of the game) Osweiler came in and went three-and-out. The jitters of getting in to his first game action of the season were clearly there, but he calmed down and came back out and proved that he can help this team put points on the board, something Manning has struggled mightily to do all year.

Osweiler’s first drive after his initial three-and-out was a 15-play drive in which he methodically drove the ball down the field, and then wound up throwing a pass to Demaryius Thomas on fourth down in the end zone that was ultimately tipped by Sean Smith and intercepted by Eric Berry. It was a good thought, but the Chiefs were ready and Osweiler’s second attempt at scoring the ball was not successful.

The Broncos got the ball back again, and again Osweiler drove the ball down the field, methodically. This time, it was the first touchdown of the game on a 12-play, 80 yard drive. The last time the Broncos had the football, Osweiler ‘pushed’ the ball down the field in a hurry and scored from 62 yards out in just five plays.

We saw pretty much the whole gamut of what Osweiler brings to the table in this game in terms of arm strength, mobility, throwing on the move, and creating plays where there is seemingly nothing to take. Let me show you what stood out to me…

Play-action fake here from Osweiler, who gets a wide open look and a couple of great options

This is a classic Shanahan/Kubiak bootleg pass play, except this one came out of a pistol formation. The Broncos executed it to perfection, leaving Brock Osweiler with a couple of great options. He’s not going to attempt to go deep down the middle of the field here in double coverage after rolling to his right, nor does he have to try and force the ball in to the receiver who is downfield near the 20. He does the smart thing here and hits Demaryius Thomas, who is wide open near the 20, for a 16-yard gain and a key first down on this drive.

This play right here is one of my favorites from the game. Osweiler is being taken down here by Justin Houston, the reigning NFL sack champion.

It apparently doesn’t phase him. Despite being pulled to the ground by one of the NFL’s best at doing just that, Osweiler gathers himself and turned this play into a six-yard gain on a scramble. He was also hit on this play while sliding, which I always thought was a penalty but I guess in this case, it wasn’t…

As I complained after the game on Monday (couldn’t bring myself to Tweet on Sunday) I don’t think it was by mere coincidence that Osweiler’s being in the game suddenly made Cody Latimer forget all his problems he’d had picking up the offense or whatever bull crap we were all being fed. This is a simple concept to get an elite athlete (Latimer) matched up on a much less athletic linebacker in Josh Mauga, who had picked off Peyton Manning earlier this game.

This was a really simple shallow crossing route where Latimer picked up a big chunk of yards and got into the action for the first time offensively, really.

Isn’t that interesting?

Continuing on with my Cody Latimer rant (perhaps better for another post?) here’s Osweiler communicating some hand signal with him on a third-and-long play. Latimer runs a hot route against zone coverage and a blitz and Osweiler hits him right in the void. Latimer does the rest, turning upfield for a 15-yard gain and nearly scoring the ball.

This play resulted in the Broncos’ first touchdown of the game two plays later when Ronnie Hillman scampered in.

Speaking of Cody Latimer, this play right here showed off both the speed and athletic prowess of one former Broncos second round pick as much as it did Osweiler. Latimer is sent deep here on 10-yard off coverage, and he burns Chiefs first-round pick Marcus Peters. Osweiler recognizes it and heaves the ball deep downfield, a catchable ball and the officials are forced to call pass interference on Peters.

That play resulted in a 36-yard gain for the Broncos’ offense.

This is a really simple ‘broom’ drill for Brock. He sets in his drop, feels and avoids the pressure, and steps up to his left. He now has to make a throw across his body but he’s already won this play by not taking a sack (which he did too much of in this game, and later acknowledged). Let me show you the result of this effort…

Osweiler again was able to exploit one athlete being better than another as Vernon Davis beats a linebacker here, and Osweiler — who is on the move and sidestepping pressure toward his weak side — makes an absolutely perfect throw, setting the Broncos up with a red zone opportunity.


It wasn’t all rosy for Osweiler, who threw the interception and took a number of sacks, but it was a very good overall performance where we saw everything we would need in order to believe that he is capable of leading the Broncos both in the short term and the long-term.