In seven starts for the Broncos last season, Brock Osweiler was a replacement-level talent. That's not an indictment of his skills -- or his potential -- just the reality of a young quarterback seeing the first meaningful action of his career.
But after spending four seasons in Peyton Manning's shadow, Osweiler opted against re-signing in Denver and instead headed to the Texans on a four-year, $72 million deal. If nothing else, the bar for quarterback play in Houston was exceeding low, which wasn't the case in Denver; last season, the Texans endured the likes of Ryan Mallet, Brian Hoyer, T.J. Yates and Brandon Weeden -- and still won the division. Stability at the position should translate into a deep playoff run.
But Osweiler didn't look like much of an upgrade in Thursday night's blowout loss to the Patriots, never mind the future of the franchise. He finished 24 of 41 for 196 yards and an interception, and the Texans were blanked, 27-0.
"This is hard to take," Osweiler said after the game. "But bottom line, New England had a great game plan. They came out, they played a hell of a game. They deserve all the credit in the world. We'll bounce back from this one."
Back in Denver, Broncos general manager John Elway sounded like a man who was happy he didn't overpay for Osweiler's services.
"A lot of times those deals you don't make are the best ones," Elway told Dave Logan and Susie Wargin of KOA NewsRadio on Friday, via PFT, who noted that Elway "had a lighthearted tone."
"Obviously it was a tough night for Houston last night and -- but things move on," Elway continued. "You try to make the best decision when you have to make it. ... Excluding last night, we really felt good with the way everything's fallen, the way we went into camp, and we're really excited with the guys who are playing the position for us now."
This isn't the first time Elway has spoken his mind about the former Broncos quarterback. Last month, he said he was surprised Osweiler got "bent out of shape" about getting benched during the second half of the 2015 regular-season finale against the Chargers. Manning returned to the lineup, and went on to lead the Broncos to the Super Bowl. A month later, Osweiler inked a long-term contract with the Texans.
"I can understand that he didn't want to sit down and have Peyton come back in that San Diego game, but it wasn't the fact that Brock was playing bad," Elway told the Denver Post at the time. "We needed a change of something. So I was a little surprised just how he seemed to be a little bent out of shape about that. But he had an opportunity to make a tremendous amount of money in Houston, and for us, it just didn't fit."
Meanwhile, the Broncos are 2-0 with Trevor Siemian, the 2015 seventh-round pick who won the starting job in training camp. That said, Sieman has been shaky a times, throwing a touchdown and three interceptions in two games. Like Manning and Osweiler before him, Siemian has been a beneficiary of the league's most dominant defense.
"He's made some poor decisions," Broncos coach Gary Kubiak conceded this week, via ESPN.com. "I know that sounds kind of crazy, but it's just learning that, 'Trevor, That guy can make that play. You're not in college anymore. You're not going to throw that ball through that guy.' I think some of the speed of the game factors that he's beginning to understand a little bit is going to make him better each week."
Of course, Siemian will make $525,000 in 2016 and Osweiler is averaging $18 million a season through 2019. The Broncos also have rookie first-rounder Paxton Lynch waiting in the wings, while Tom Savage and Weeden are the break-in-case-of-emergency backups behind Osweiler should things go sideways in Houston.