But in Monday’s 27-9 loss to the Denver Broncos, he was unable to take advantage of it.
Osweiler was 0-for-7 on passes that were 15 yards or more downfield. According to ESPN Stats & Information, there were just three games this season in which a quarterback has gone 0-for-7 or worse on those throws, and Osweiler has two of them. The other came in Week 5 against the Minnesota Vikings.
Osweiler said he had a few opportunities to complete deep passes, but he overthrew his receivers on those plays.
“[Throwing downfield] is part of this offense,” Osweiler said. “We try to hit our running backs underneath. We try to hit our tight ends underneath. We like to push the football down the field, and we weren’t able to do that tonight.”
Osweiler finished 22-for-41 for 131 yards, without a touchdown or an interception. His 131 passing yards were the second-fewest in NFL history by a quarterback who attempted at least 40 passes, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Only Jesse Palmer, who threw for 110 yards on 43 attempts in 2003, has had fewer.
“Give credit where credit is due,” Osweiler said. “The Denver Broncos' defense is a hell of a unit. They are very well coached. They play extremely hard, their chemistry is great and their communication is great. They play extremely fast and they’re physical. They just played better than us tonight.”
Yes, Denver has a good defense, but the truth is, Osweiler’s struggles are not limited to Monday night’s loss to the Broncos.
According to Elias, Osweiler became the first quarterback in league history to have three games in a single season with fewer than 200 yards on 40 attempts in each game. And Osweiler accomplished that in Week 7. His 5.72 yards per attempt this season is lower than the career averages of David Carr, Joey Harrington and JaMarcus Russell.
And perhaps the most surprising stat is that Osweiler is doing this with one of the best wide receivers in the league, who has been healthy and consistently on the field. Osweiler has not been able to get the ball to Pro Bowl receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who had 111 catches for 1,521 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. In Monday night’s loss, Hopkins had five catches for 36 yards on 12 targets. Osweiler tried to get the ball to Hopkins early, including six first-half targets.
Osweiler said he’s “not sure what the deal is” about being unable to connect with Hopkins.
“Bottom line, [it] comes down to execution,” Osweiler said. “[We’re] going to get this cleaned up to get some receptions and some chemistry down the field."