In Sunday’s 20-13 victory over the Lions, Osweiler finished 20-of-29 for 186 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
There were still plenty of mistakes -- including a third-down interception deep in Lions territory with less than a minute to go in the first half where he forced the ball to wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. It was Osweiler’s ninth interception of the season, and after a five-play, 52-yard drive, Detroit kicked a field goal to complete a possible six-point swing to close the half.
Though Osweiler targeted Hopkins seven times, the Texans’ game plan seemed focused on the Texans’ tight ends, especially early when the game was being decided. For the first time since Week 2, all three tight ends -- C.J. Fiedorowicz, Ryan Griffin and Stephen Anderson -- had at least one catch in the game.
The group totaled 10 catches for 94 yards, all of which came in the first half when the Texans got out to a 14-3 lead. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Houston entered Sunday with 47 tight-end receptions, third-most in the NFL. Last year, the Texans tight ends had 41 receptions all season, which was the second-fewest in the NFL.
O'Brien said focusing on the tight ends was part of the game plan, but that he thought Osweiler "did a nice job of delivering the ball to those guys, and those guys did a nice job of getting open."
Houston went with a pass-heavy offense through most of the game, as running backs Lamar Miller, Alfred Blue and Jonathan Grimes combined for just 29 yards on 17 carries through three quarters. But with a 17-3 lead entering the fourth quarter, head coach Bill O'Brien ran the ball more, and the group finished with 108 yards on 28 carries.
"To be able to run the ball when they know we’re running the ball that speaks volumes about our offensive line and the work they put in during the week," Hopkins said.
Added O'Brien: "It's just a matter of sticking with it. I think eventually if you stick with it ... our line keeps willing themselves on the defensive line, those are good things. And a lot of times those runs that were three yards in the first half, even in the third quarter, they end up being eight, nine, 10-yard runs as long as you're patient and you stick with it."
The increased presence of tight ends also underscores how Osweiler has been unable to get the ball to Hopkins. This inability to connect on the field with Hopkins has been a story this season, especially after the receiver's breakout season last year when he had 111 catches for 1,521 yards and 11 touchdowns while the Texans started four different quarterbacks.
"I know how talented DeAndre is, and I know how hard he works every single day," Osweiler said. "Trust me, every time I break the huddle, I'm looking to see where he's at -- the matchup, the coverage -- trying to see if I can get him the football.
"I think we both have great confidence in each other. We have great belief in each other. He and I are working every single day to develop chemistry and really get this thing rolling."
O’Brien and Osweiler have said this season that they are focused on getting Hopkins the ball. He finished with four catches for 44 yards Sunday.
It hasn't been the prettiest 5-3 start for Osweiler and the Texans, but as the quarterback said earlier in the week, "ultimately, if you can win football games, that’s really what matters.” The Texans will enter their bye week leading the AFC South and sitting 2-0 in the division.