Houston Texans Bench Osweiler

Is this the end of the Osweiler era or just a bump in the road?

The Brock Osweiler era is officially on hold in Houston.

The Kalispell quarterback lost his starting job for the Houston Texans over the weekend and head coach Bill O’Brien announced Dec. 19 that Tom Savage would retain the starting role.

It has been a disappointing descent for the former Flathead Brave. After departing Super Bowl champion Denver in the offseason and signing a four-year, $72 million deal with the Texans, Osweiler became the new face of the franchise with great optimism and prospects.

On one hand, the Texans are 8-6 overall and tied atop the AFC South standings. But many fans and commentators have said the team’s success has come in spite of Osweiler, whose stats have not lived up to the expectations of a franchise quarterback. In his first full season as a starter, Osweiler has competed 59 percent of his passes for 2,704 yards, averaging 5.75 yards per completion. His 14 touchdowns are soured in light of his 16 interceptions, including two last game against Jacksonville that led to his benching. ESPN’s total quarterback rating for Osweiler this season — 54.5 — ranks 24th in the league.

It didn’t help Osweiler’s case that his replacement on Sunday, a 26-year-old fourth-round draft pick from 2014, took over in the second quarter and led the Texans to a comeback victory over Jacksonville, 21-20. Savage, who entered the game with 19 career pass attempts under his belt, finished 23 of 36 for 260 yards. It was the second most passing yards for a Houston quarterback all season, behind Osweiler’s 269-yard performance against Indianapolis on Oct. 16.

On Dec. 19, O’Brien said Savage, who graduated from Rutgers and spent last season on the injured reserve with a shoulder injury, would be the starting quarterback on Saturday against Cincinnati.

“Feel like Tom Savage gives us the best chance to win,” O’Brien told the media. “We will see what he can do for us Saturday against the Bengals.”

O’Brien praised Osweiler’s handling of the situation, saying he has been a great teammate and always wants what is best for the team.

“I have a lot of respect for Brock Osweiler,” O’Brien said. “He’s done everything we’ve asked of him. It’s just the nature of the business.”

Osweiler is returning to the sidelines as backup, a role he filled for three and a half seasons in Denver. What’s next remains unclear. He is guaranteed $37 million through his contract regardless of what Houston does with the 26-year-old. Houston has two regular-season games left, Cincinnati on Dec. 24 and Tennessee on Jan. 1. The last game could decide the division championship and playoff berths.

The speculation is that the Texans could return to Osweiler if Savage struggles, especially since the season is essentially on the line over these next two weeks. Though Osweiler’s stats don’t shine bright, his leadership remains significant and the team’s win-loss record is nonetheless impressive.

Is this the end of the Osweiler era or just a bump in the road?