Bill O'Brien hadn't formally met Brock Osweiler until his first press conference as a Texan, but he knew the new quarterback would be a great fit. From evaluating him on the field to checking references on him, the Texans had done their due diligence on their newest quarterback before he'd ever set foot in inside NRG Stadium.
"We felt like he was a guy that everything that he brought to the table from his command at the line of scrimmage to his skillset as a passer," O'Brien said Tuesday at the NFL owners meetings. "For a big guy – I'm sure you guys know his history, he played basketball – he's a very, very good athlete. We think he's a great fit for our offense."
O'Brien and general manager Rick Smith began their research in a room watching hours of tape, including college games, on the free agent.
There were two games in particular that stood out to O'Brien. The first, was the Broncos dramatic 30-24 overtime win over a previously undefeated New England. Osweiler helped lead Denver to a fourth-quarter comeback as the Broncos scored 17 unanswered points and a late Patriots field goal sent the game into overtime.
"I thought the New England game was one particular game that stood out to me because they were really in coaching lingo, getting after him," O'Brien said. "They were hitting him and he was delivering the football and getting right back up and calling the next play. One of the main requirements for a quarterback in this league is the ability to stand in there when everything is flying at you and take a hit and deliver the ball."
The second game occurred two weeks later on Dec. 13. against the Oakland Raiders. Osweiler threw for 308 yards but was sacked five times in Denver's 15-12 loss. O'Brien's observation of Osweiler withstanding pressure was further solidified.
"In the Raider game, Khalil Mack must have hit him, I don't know, eight to 10 times in that game? He stood in there, delivered the ball," O'Brien said. "Maybe statistically it wasn't his best game but to someone who's been coaching that position for a while and has really studied it, that means a lot to us."
O'Brien liked what he saw on film, but having not met or worked with him, he wanted to know more. Would the 25-year-old fit his culture, the locker room? How would his signing affect the team's chemistry? The head coach reached out to colleagues and teammates that knew Osweiler over the course of his career.
"I know there's a lot of people that have coached him throughout the years that I've personally known so I'm sure he spoke to those guys," O'Brien said. "We spoke to those guys. That was one thing that stood out to me about him was everyone we spoke to, that was either a coach or teammate, couldn't say enough good things a about this guy. That he was a good leader, a hard worker, a guy that really cared about his teammates, everything we're looking for in a quarterback. So now, he's just got to come in here and do it."
Check out a collection of the best shots of QB Brock Osweiler.