Osweiler ready when called up to re­place Tan­nehill

The Palm Beach Post - - SPORTS - By Joe Schad Palm Beach Post Staff Writer jschad@pb­post.com

MI­AMI GAR­DENS — Well be­fore Brock Osweiler passed for a ca­reer­high 380 yards and led the Dol­phins to a thrilling, come-from-be­hind 31-28 over­time de­feat of the Bears on Sun­day, he re­ceived sig­nif­i­cant news via a text mes­sage. He was start­ing.

“I was ex­cited,” Osweiler said, of learn­ing Sun­day morn­ing that Ryan Tan­nehill would be ruled out. “I was very ex­cited.”

Well be­fore Osweiler had thrown three touch­downs, in­clud­ing two in the fourth quar­ter to Al­bert Wil­son, he was driv­ing his car to Hard Rock Sta­dium as emo­tions be­gan to course through his 6-foot-7 body.

“There’s a lot of things go­ing through my head, but it’s re­ally mostly just make the most of this op­por­tu­nity, have no re­gret at the end of the day,” Osweiler said. “To­day was dif­fer­ent be­cause I was play­ing for peo­ple I truly care about and that means a lot.”

Osweiler signed with the Dol­phins to play for coach Adam Gase, the coach who in­jected him with con­fi­dence in Den­ver. This was be­fore Osweiler was branded a colos­sal bust in Hous­ton. This was be­fore the Browns ac­quired Osweiler last year with the strat­egy to pick up a draft pick, quickly dump him, and ab­sorb a gi­ant salary cap hit.

“He knows this sys­tem in and out,” Gase said. “He knows how to op­er­ate at the line of scrim­mage, in the hud­dle. He takes care of the ball. He does things the right way, pre­pares the right way. Every week he treats it as though he’s go­ing to have to go in the game.”

Some fans thought it was funny that Mi­ami praised Osweiler’s snap count and hud­dle eti­quette af­ter his ar­rival. But with for­mer Bronco Pey­ton Man­ning in at­ten­dance, it’s worth not­ing that Osweiler’s poised man­ner­isms are in­tended to be a re­flec­tion of the le­gend.

“I felt com­fort­able from the first play, I re­ally did,” Osweiler said.

Osweiler con­ceded it wasn’t per­fect. He threw in­ter­cep­tions on con­sec­u­tive drives, one at the end of the sec­ond quar­ter and one at the start of the third quar­ter.

The Dol­phins had held a 7-0 lead at half­time and now three­and-a-half min­utes into the sec­ond half, Mi­ami was in a 14-7 hole. The sec­ond Osweiler in­ter­cep­tion was in­tended for Wil­son but in­ter­cepted at the Mi­ami 47 and nearly re­turned for a touch­down.

Those types of plays have ap­peared too of­ten on the Osweiler re­sume. But to his credit, on Sun­day, he bounced back. Osweiler com­pared op­er­at­ing Gase’s of­fense to be­ing a point guard and af­ter that play, he essen­tially posted five as­sists.

Osweiler led two touch­down drives (smartly pass­ing to the dy­namic Wil­son for two long catch-and-runs) and three field-goal drives, in­clud­ing the game-win­ning 47-yarder in over­time.

Gase de­clined to give specifics about the de­tails of Tan­nehill’s shoul­der in­jury in his postgame news con­fer­ence, aside from say­ing they had worked him out ear­lier in the morn­ing, without suc­cess.

“I do not know,” Gase said. “I do not know. I don’t know. I know to­day (Tan­nehill) couldn’t go.”

Osweiler didn’t sin­gle-hand­edly lead the Dol­phins to vic­tory on Sun­day. Mi­ami ran for 161 yards. The Dol­phins’ de­fense forced two crit­i­cal fum­bles and an in­ter­cep­tion.

But Osweiler’s out­ing was a net­plus. And that’s good enough to qual­ify as a com­pe­tent backup quar­ter­back.

Osweiler had of­fered lit­tle to no rea­son to in­spire con­fi­dence in the spring and the sum­mer (and slightly more in the pre­sea­son). But on Sun­day, his per­for­mance did enough to lead Dol­phins fans to be­lieve their sea­son isn’t com­pletely over if Tan­nehill misses a few more games.

And, more im­por­tantly, Dol­phins play­ers seemed to gen­uinely be­lieve Osweiler would give them a chance.

“We al­ways want our main guy but our next man up, Brock, pre­pares like he’s a star every day,” run­ning back Frank Gore said.

“He def­i­nitely knows what he’s do­ing back there,” Wil­son said.

Be­cause it was un­clear if Tan­nehill would be able to play this week, Osweiler took only a few reps at prac­tice on Thurs­day and Fri­day.

In one of the game’s most crit­i­cal mo­ments, Osweiler op­er­ated a two-point at­tempt he has never ac­tu­ally prac­ticed be­fore.

“I’ve been hear­ing that play get called since 2013, so I’ve ran through it men­tally in my head prob­a­bly at least 500 times even though I’ve never rep’d it phys­i­cally,” Osweiler said.

Mi­ami trailed 21-19 and it was the fourth quar­ter and this was a crit­i­cal play. Danny Amen­dola was the first op­tion but he ended up on the ground. So too did the sec­ond op­tion. Osweiler spot­ted Kenny Stills in the back of the end zone and threw the per­fect strike.

“You know, to­day felt like a heavy­weight ti­tle fight,” Osweiler said.

Osweiler’s record in the arena? 14-12 as a starter now, 1-0 as a Dol­phin.

“This is the best one be­cause it’s the most re­cent, and that’s re­ally the truth,” Osweiler said. “This foot­ball team needed a win. We were com­ing off of two losses, two re­ally tough losses, and we needed to find a way to get a win and we did.”

Tan­nehill up­date: Tan­nehill has been fight­ing through a prob­lem with his right shoul­der for at least three weeks, but he was able to play in re­cent losses to the Pa­tri­ots and Ben­gals. Those games were two of the 10 worst per­for­mances of his ca­reer.

He did not miss prac­tice time until Fri­day’s walk-through, when he was lim­ited. That prompted the Dol­phins to list him as ques­tion­able for the first time, though there was still hope that two more days of rest would al­low him to play through it against the Bears.

The coach­ing staff worked him out Sun­day morn­ing, and he re­ceived treat­ment, but his shoul­der did not progress to a point where the team thought he could be ef­fec­tive. Tan­nehill’s sta­tus re­mained un­de­cided until shortly be­fore the team was re­quired to de­clare its in­ac­tives an hour and a half be­fore kick­off. With news about Tan­nehill’s in­jury swirling on Sun­day morn­ing, the bet­ting line in Las Ve­gas quickly jumped from 3.5 to 6.5 points in fa­vor of the Bears.

Staff Writer Jason Lieser con­trib­uted to this re­port.

ALLEN EYESTONE / THE PALM BEACH POST

Quar­ter­back Brock Osweiler went 28 of 44 for 380 yards and three touch­downs Sun­day against the Bears. He im­proved to 14-12 as a starter, 1-0 with Mi­ami.

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