Miami Dolphins

The Mind of Brock: How a national punching bag put together the game of his life

Dolphins quarterback Brock Osweiler: “Right now it’s ‘Brocktober’’

Miami Dolphins quarterback Brock Osweiler after practice at their training facility in Davie on Wednesday, October 17, 2018, in preparation for their game against the Detroit Lions on Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens.
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Miami Dolphins quarterback Brock Osweiler after practice at their training facility in Davie on Wednesday, October 17, 2018, in preparation for their game against the Detroit Lions on Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens.

Brock Osweiler has a secret weapon.

It’s not otherworldly strength or X-ray vision.

Rather his superpower is his ability to remain upbeat and insanely confident after a career that would crush mere mortals.

Osweiler is as sunny as a Phoenix morning — and he saw more than a few during his three seasons at Arizona State.

He has the swagger of a four-time champion — not a guy on his fourth team in 20 months.

Which is how, just hours after learning Ryan Tannehill was out and he would start last Sunday against the Bears — and with most every pundit expecting him to fall on his face — Osweiler had the game of his life, throwing for a career-high 380 yards and three touchdowns.

Great job Brock. Now go do it again Sunday against the Lions.

Anyone who has spent any time at all with him knows Osweiler is convinced he can — and will.

“There was no doubt,” Osweiler said, when asked if he thought he would ever get this chance again. “There are a lot of factors that are out of your control. You can control how hard you work, your effort, your attitude, how you’re training, how you’re studying; but whether you ever become No. 1 in the lineup or whether you get an opportunity to play on game day, a lot of times that’s out of your control.

“The key is I’ve been through some ups and downs and I’ve learned so much along the way,” Osweiler continued. “Now it’s all about making the most of these special opportunities because you don’t know when you’re going to get another one.”

How can Osweiler can be so unfailingly positive after a career of negatives?

After waiting behind Peyton Manning in Denver for what seemed like forever (Osweiler threw just 30 passes in his first three seasons).

After getting benched for Manning for the playoffs and Super Bowl in 2015, even though he kept the Broncos afloat during Manning’s foot injury.

After getting low-balled by Broncos management when his contract was up, and instead signing a $72 million contract with the Texas.

After bombing out in Houston, completing just 59 percent of his passes with 15 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.

After getting seeing the Texans so motivated to get rid of him and his contract, they threw in a second-round pick in a salary-dump trade with the Browns to do so.

After the Browns cut him before a season in which they did not win a single game and their quarterbacks had a combined passer rating of 61.5.

After ending up back in Denver, but losing all four of his starts and seeing John Elway give up on him for a second time.

So again, how?

“It’s keeping pollution out of his brain,” Dolphins coach Adam Gase said. “That’s what it is. It’s not like you ever read anything positive, so why read it? In this profession, you just have to stay in the bunker, because if you start letting all that other stuff kind of get in your head, you start to believe it after awhile.”

Osweiler doesn’t do social media. He doesn’t read the paper. His car stereo isn’t set to talk radio.

“We need to put earmuffs on, if you will, and drown out all of the outside noise,” Osweiler added. “The only thing that matters is the belief in yourself and the belief your teammates and coaches have in you. Other than that, nothing really matters. Throughout my entire career, I’ve always believed in who I was as a quarterback, as a person, as a leader.

“So none of this takes me by surprise.”

That’s a good start. But plenty of athletes put on blinders and still get ruined when failure stacks on top of failure.

Osweiler is a special case, said Bill Aronson, a former military psychologist who now teaches sports and development psychology at FIU.

“A lot of people would bail out and quit,” Aronson said. “He’s able to hang in there. He has intrinsic motivation.”

Aronson has followed Osweiler’s career since the beginning, and believes the quarterback has an innate inner strength that has been bolstered by supportive family, teammates and coaches.

“He’s learned from those losses and those cuts and excelled,” Aronson. “... I would imagine Brock is focused on keeping it simple. Game-by-game. Minute-by-minute. Eliminate the distracters. Not dealing with TV, social media, he gets in his little bubble and is not influenced by anybody.

“He wants it so badly,” Aronson added. “He’s a tough son of a gun.”

said Dolphins offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains: “I think he’s in a very good place mentally. I think he really enjoys football. I think he really enjoys his teammates, and I think that’s important. He trusts the system a lot because it’s something he’s familiar with and he got to see it operated at a very high level by one of the greatest players of all time. When you get to sit back and watch that, it just gives you confidence and belief when a call comes in that you’ve seen it executed at a top level and you know what the system is capable of when executed the right way, and just the belief that he has in his teammates.”

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