Cathartic or catastrophic.
With Brock Osweiler, there’s probably no in between this week.
Osweiler comes face-to-face with his ex here Thursday.
And unlike an awkward encounter at the gym or the supermarket, this forced encounter will be in front of a national television audience.
Dolphins-Texans might be in primetime, but it has all the drama of daytime television.
Except without the tearful confessionals on Dr. Phil’s couch. All the baggage will be hidden.
Osweiler, for the uninitiated, was once supposed to be the face of Texans football. He signed a $72 million contract in 2016 that was going to put the franchise among the league’s elite.
Instead, he bombed out. And he was unceremoniously dumped 12 months later, traded to Cleveland — the NFL’s equivalent of Siberia.
Three teams and a year and a half later, Osweiler has a chance to prove to the franchise and its leader, coach Bill O’Brien, that they messed up.
It has to be a motivation, even if he tried to play it cool in the game’s run-up. No emotions, he insisted Monday.
Sure. That’s what everyone says.
“It was short,” Osweiler joked, when asked what he remembers about his time in Houston. “It was one season. Other than that, I’m very proud of a lot of things that we accomplished. At the end of the day, in that one season, we won our division, we won a playoff game and that’s what I remember.”
Big dig a bit deeper, and the plot thickens.
Osweiler was O’Brien’s guy. Until he wasn’t. One season — in which Osweiler completed 59 percent of his passes and compiled a 72.2 passer rating — was all O’Brien needed to ship him out.
The Texans were so desperate to get his contract off their books, they gave Cleveland a second-round pick for the trouble.
“I paid no attention to that,” Osweiler said. “In fact, I couldn’t even tell you what they did give up. The bottom line is I got a phone call. I was told I was going to Cleveland and I think you guys know me well enough at this point now [to know] that I don’t look in the past. I’m always looking forward to the future and the things that I can control and that’s really what I did in that moment.”
But what’s also true: He has no relationship — at all — with O’Brien.
The two men have not spoken since that day.
“I’m not really worried about that,” Osweiler said. “Like I said, at the end of the day, I have great respect for him and that organization, everything involved there. There were business decisions that had to be made. They were made and we all moved on.”
The Texans moved on very quickly. A month after dealing Osweiler, they drafted Deshaun Watson in the first round. And Watson has been excellent, when healthy.
Both Osweiler and O’Brien would have preferred avoiding the topic of their breakup altogether in the game’s lead-up. But that’s not how the world works.
Sports is as much about the narrative as it is the game. And the narrative this week is juicy.
“Very bright guy,” O’Brien said, when asked for his memories of their one season together. “Very tough guy, competitive guy. Worked very hard here. Really worked his tail off every week to try to help us win.”
Osweiler has this going for him: He looks better than ever. Think of his football makeover in these terms: New job. Great shape. And he’s in a healthy relationship with Adam Gase, who supports Osweiler in a way that O’Brien probably never could.
His footwork has improved. So has his ball security. Osweiler has never been better as a pro — and O’Brien has noticed.
“I think he’s playing great,” he said. “I think he’s got great command of their offense. Very, very bright guy. Really understands Adam’s systems. He does a great job with Adam in game-planning. He’s got a lot of weapons around him. He’s using all of them. They’ve got a really explosive team.
“This is a huge challenge for us on a really short week. It’s going to be a very, very difficult game for us. Brock’s playing at a high level.”
“Well I would hope the expectations are for me to play tremendous football and to lead this football team to wins,” he said. “If it’s anything but that, I shouldn’t be the guy behind center. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you’re the one, two, three or four in this business. This is professional football and we’re paid to be successful on game day and to help our football team win games.”