It’s his last chance.
Brock Osweiler has returned as the Broncos starting quarterback. He’s being asked to resurrect a sputtering offense and a season that's dangling on a cliff.
This is the same Osweiler who was cut in August by the Cleveland Browns, a winless team. The Browns decided Osweiler was not worthy to remain on their roster. (That's one serious insult.) This is the same Osweiler who was banished from Houston a few months after the Texans paid him $37 million in guaranteed money to lead their offense.
Osweiler showed signs in 2015 of quarterbacking brilliance. He started seven games for the Broncos, leading the eventual champs to five wins, including come-from-behind victories over the powerful Patriots and Bengals.
And he was improving. His presence in the pocket was maturing. He was taking more time to scan the field. He played with increasing poise and decreasing fear.
It’s easy to forget now why the Texans gave him so much money. Brock Osweiler seemed on his way to becoming one of the NFL’s top dozen quarterbacks. Remember, John Elway and the Broncos offered Brock $30 million in guaranteed money to remain in Colorado. No position in sport is more demanding than playing QB in the NFL.
And Osweiler once looked ready to meet all the demands.
But maybe the obsessive and brilliant masterminds who craft NFL defenses have figured out Brock. After examining video of his tendencies, those masterminds might have discovered all his weaknesses and left him less-than-mediocre. The Brock of 2016, the one who struggled with the Texans, looked exposed and jittery. No one wants that version of Brock leading an offense.
Bronco coach Vance Joseph had no choice. Trevor Siemian was throwing strange interceptions while failing, again and again, to score points. Over 12 quarters, the Siemian-led Broncos scored 19 points, or less than the Peyton Manning-led Broncos sometimes scored in one quarter.
Change was required.
Brock, despised and rejected by the Texans and Browns, faces an immense task. He will lead the Broncos against the powerful Eagles. He must face the fans of Philadelphia, who are among the most vile and lovable in all of sport. The Broncos will be heavy underdogs, and a lost season might get even more lost.
He is one step away from salvaging a career that not long ago had so much promise.
And he’s also one step away from football oblivion.