Denver Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler was excellent in his debut as a starter in the NFL against the Chicago Bears.
It’s a time of transition for the Denver Broncos with Brock Osweiler making his first start at QB for the team since he was drafted in 2012, but it’s also a very exciting time for the fans as Osweiler looked really freaking good.
He threw Cody Latimer his first ever NFL touchdown, on a play that put the Broncos up by eight points in the fourth quarter.
He threw the first touchdown pass in the 1st quarter this season for the Broncos…
And he was spreading the ball all around, completing 20 passes to eight different receivers, including 11 completions to tight ends. There are obviously areas where the Broncos’ offense can improve, but Osweiler did really well with what was in my opinion a pretty abbreviated playbook but a gameplan executed very well.
Osweiler did a good job — for the most part — of taking what the defense gave him throughout the game. The two touchdown passes came on drives that were critical (scoring first, and ultimately, scoring the game-winning points) but there were two drives in particular that Osweiler failed to punch teh ball in the end zone where he really needed to.
The foremost one that stands out in my mind was when the Broncos failed to get a single point off of the Danny Trevathan interception that set them up deep in Chicago territory, and ultimately resulted in a 4th down run that fell short of the goal line because Osweiler’s tree trunk leg got tangled up with Ronnie Hillman, who would have probably darted in for the score.
That particular play cost the Broncos big time because it would have likely put the game out of reach much earlier.
The other drive came when the Bears had an absolutely terrible punt resulting in phenomenal field position for the Broncos right around mid-field. The Broncos went three-and-out and were forced to punt.
Osweiler has been confirmed the starter for next week’s matchup against the New England Patriots, and to say I’m excited for that game would be the understatement of the week. Osweiler is clearly ready for the role he has been given, but we’ll get a true test of that when he’s allowed to host a home game against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, who are struggling through some major injuries right now.
A win against New England would probably cement Osweiler’s spot in the starting lineup, but we’ll focus on that for another post this one is about Osweiler’s Bears performance. We saw, once again, almost everything we wanted to from Brock in this game. What do we need to see more of, and how can he accomplish it?
Here’s what I have in mind…
Open up the vertical passing game
When I awoke in the wee hours of Sunday morning as I usually do, I was misguided by the great Adam Schefter that Emmanuel Sanders would be playing Sunday. Now, he’s not the only vertical threat the Broncos have at receiver, but he’s probably the fastest player on the team and can stretch a defense with the best of them.
Having Sanders in the lineup is going to allow the Broncos to open up the vertical passing game, and take some shots deep downfield on those play-action passes that were working so well against the Chicago Bears.
Of course, the Bears were sending plenty of pressure at Osweiler in this game, and reasonably so. Osweiler didn’t turn the ball over on Sunday but he also took plenty of sacks. There were sacks as a result of good pressure from blitzing, but there was also some bad blocking and some indecision from Osweiler.
Switching topics a bit here, here’s a pass play where Osweiler made a critical pre-snap read on a play that very nearly resulted in a touchdown in this game.
Osweiler reads the fire blitz
After Danny Trevathan’s interception of Jay Cutler, the Broncos were in great position to score the football. They ran the ball four straight times before throwing a pass, and the Bears obviously knew this was coming. They sent a fire blitz at Osweiler and left four men in coverage, one in man coverage vs. Demaryius Thomas.
Osweiler audibles before the snap and correctly sends Jordan Norwood up the middle of the field. Norwood exposes the void in Chicago’s defense and Osweiler quickly gets him the football. Here’s the look:
This play was stopped short of the goal line, and the Broncos were stopped on 4th down as we all know, but this was a great look from Osweiler and a great check on a pre-snap read. That’s the result of great film study and not letting the moment be too big for you.
The Broncos had scoring drives of 4, 13, and 10 plays. They had a few non-scoring drives of 11, 6, and 8 plays. They had 68 total offensive plays for 389 yards and won the time of possession battle 33:13 to 26:47.
The way he spread the ball around, the accuracy, the pre-snap checks, the mobility, the pocket presence, the clutch throw late in the game, and the number of longer, sustained drives indicate to me that this is a job that Osweiler doesn’t intend to simply keep warm for Peyton Manning.
It’s his to lose.