It says something for the dysfunctionality of the National Football League that Brock Osweiler doing a passable impersonation of an elite quarterback is fairly low down on the list of weird things to happen so far in 2017.
Osweiler's time with the Houston Texans was so grim that they gave the Cleveland Browns a second-round draft pick in 2018 just to be rid of him, marking one of the more extraordinary trades in recent NFL history. He then played so badly for the Browns that they released him in the summer despite still owing him $16 million.
And then, on Thursday Night Football in front of a national television audience, Osweiler decided to remind the Texans why they once thought paying him $72 million over four years was a good idea.
Trevor Siemian, the Broncos’ starting quarterback, went down with a shoulder injury in the first quarter of a game against Lucas Oil Stadium that meant something only for fantasy owners and draft position and Vance Joseph and Chuck Pagano’s job security.
And Osweiler, as it turned out. After Siemian was carted off—he landed heavily on his left shoulder on a sack by the Colts’ Barkevious Mingo—Osweiler replaced him and completed 12 of 17 passes for two touchdowns, no interceptions and a Total Quarterback Rating of 99.2, according to ESPN —the best in the league for any quarterback with at least 20 snaps.
Brock Osweiler's 99.2 Total QBR tonight is the highest in the NFL for any QB in a game this season (min. 20 action plays). It's the highest Total QBR in a game for a non-starting QB in the 12 seasons for which ESPN has Total QBR data. pic.twitter.com/z8DUU4qfhw— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 15, 2017
Osweiler led the Broncos to their second win in a row, 25-13, against the listless Colts. In the process, he may just have convinced another foolish, desperate franchise to give him another chance at proving he can play well in games that aren’t completely meaningless. Thursday Night Football was weird, for sure. But its weirdness was only in keeping with the general oddness of the NFL this year.
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