Deshaun Watson is better than even the Texans expected, and other Week Four thoughts

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I was wrong about Deshaun Watson, but how can you blame me? Bill O’Brien was wrong about him, too.

As I watched Watson during his outstanding career at Clemson, I didn’t see the kind of quarterback who would be ready to step in and lead an NFL team immediately. I just didn’t think Watson was accurate enough as a passer. Just four games into his NFL career, he has proven me wrong.

But not only me. He proved his own coach wrong as well. O’Brien spent the entire offseason, training camp and the preseason insisting that Watson wasn’t ready, and that Tom Savage would play ahead of him. O’Brien was adamant that Savage gave the Texans the best chance to win.

Once the regular season started, that plan lasted all of 30 minutes: O’Brien benched Savage and went to Watson at halftime of Week One. And now it’s obvious not only that Watson should have been starting from the get-go, but that the special ability to lead a football team he showed in college is carrying over nicely to the NFL.

On Sunday Watson was sensational, passing for 283 yards and four touchdowns, running for 24 yards and a touchdown, and leading Houston to a 57-14 win over Tennessee. Those 57 points were the most in Texans history and the most in any NFL game in five years. Watson became just the second rookie in NFL history with 250 pass yards, four passing touchdowns and a rushing touchdown in a game. (The first was Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton in 1961.) And Watson is now the only player in NFL history to put up seven passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns in the first four games of his rookie season.

But as well as Watson is playing, he’d probably be better still if O’Brien had trusted him enough to let him work with the first-string offense throughout the offseason, training camp and the preseason. Who knows: Maybe if the Texans had started Watson from Day One, they’d be 4-0 right now, not 2-2.

As it is, the Texans have to be considered the favorites in the AFC South right now. After leading his team to the national championship in college, Watson may just lead his team to the playoffs as a rookie. He’s more ready than we thought.

Here are my other thoughts on Sunday’s games:

The Jets aren’t tanking, and the Patriots are flawed. A month ago, everyone said the Jets were purposely throwing the season away to get the first pick in the 2018 draft, and everyone said the Patriots were the overwhelming favorites to win the Super Bowl. Everyone was wrong. The Jets and Patriots are both 2-2 and tied for second in the AFC East. The Jets fought hard and pulled out an overtime win over the Jaguars yesterday, while the Patriots’ defense continued to melt down and they lost to the Panthers. This looks like the worst defense Bill Belichick has had in New England, and it’s going to be awfully tough to win another Super Bowl with that group. I still think the Patriots will win the AFC East, but the fact that they’re tied with the Jets, and a game behind the Bills, is stunning after the first month of the season.

Kickers continue to change the game. There may be no bigger change to the NFL over the last few decades than the quality of field goal kickers. For example, in the entire 1976, 1977 and 1978 NFL seasons, the longest field goal was 54 yards. Yesterday, Bills kicker Stephen Hauschka had a 55-yard field goal and a 56-yard field goal. Hauschka and Lions kicker Matt Prater have a combined seven field goals of 55 yards or longer this season. A field goal that was once unthinkable is now ordinary.

The Lions are phasing out Eric Ebron. Ebron has been a disappointment since Detroit took him with the 10th overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft, and the Lions finally appear to have had enough. Yesterday they demoted him in their offense, making him the second tight end option behind Darren Fells. The next question is whether the Lions should bench him entirely: Given that his fifth-year option guarantees him $8.5 million if he’s injured and can’t play in 2018, Detroit may want to simply bench him to keep him from getting hurt. He just isn’t good enough to justify his contract.

The Chargers’ stadium situation is an embarrassment. Yesterday there were something like 25,000 people in the Chargers’ soccer stadium, and most of them were cheering for the Eagles. The Chargers have a fan base of maybe 10,000 people who care enough about the team to be willing to buy a ticket. That’s just pathetic for an NFL franchise. The Chargers completely botched the situation with their move from San Diego to Los Angeles, and it’s hard to see how they can turn it around any time soon. Even when the new stadium opens in Los Angeles, the Rams are going to be the primary tenant and the Chargers are going to be the afterthought. Maybe the NFL should just ship the Chargers to London.

Adrian Peterson is done. After carrying four times for four yards yesterday, Peterson has an absolutely brutal stat line over his last half-season: In Peterson’s last eight games he has 87 carries for 198 yards, an average of 2.28 yards per carry, and no touchdowns. This is going to be his last NFL season. He just doesn’t have anything left.

58 responses to “Deshaun Watson is better than even the Texans expected, and other Week Four thoughts

  1. The Patriots have had much less talented Ds in the past – the problem right now is the shocking lack of communication on the back end. I think this unit will be NFL average by the end of the year.

    The Bills and Jets will fall away as they always do.

    Still expect to see New England in the AFCCG.

  2. It didn’t take a pro NFL scout to know that Adrian Peterson would be a very bad fit for the Saints. It was easy to see him as a very square peg going into the round hole. So why couldn’t GM Mickey Loomis and “genius” offensive head coach Sean Payton see this from a mile away before signing him???

  3. Because of Roger Goodell’s insatiable greed, the NFL just had to place 2 teams in LA even though it’s been proven that it’s hardly a football town, and this embarrassment is the result.

  4. Darren Fells is not directly competing with Ebron for snaps. Fells is a stud blocker who also catches passes. Ebron is a pass catcher who can also to some extent block.
    Fells weights 280lbs while Ebron is 250lbs. Different roles and different strengths/weaknesses.

  5. I just hope other teams with young QBs in waiting will understand that Watson’s early success is the exception rather than the rule. I’m tired of seeing promising young QBs get their confidence and their careers destroyed by starting too early.

  6. Bills play lights out defensively & had an 11 minute drive against arguably the best team in the league, so I’m not sure how much more than can do right reasonably.

  7. “The Chargers completely botched the situation with their move from San Diego to Los Angeles”.

    What exactly were the Chargers supposed to do? Apparently they were supposed to continue to play in the worst stadium outside of Oakland. San Diego politicians and voters refused to remedy a situation that everyone knew was untenable. Stop crying about it.

  8. The more I think about it, the more I think moving the Chargers to LA was genius. Now in a few years when they do make the move to London, absolutely no one will care. It absolutely disgusts me, but it is pure genius.

  9. Deshaun Watson was my favorite player taken in the draft. Historically, I’ve hated Clemson, going all the way back to the late seventies. But I really liked the way this kid carried himself. A natural leader, down to earth, and MAJOR untapped skills. So imagine my dismay when this guy landed in our division. Holy cow, I can’t believe we have to face him twice a season for the next 15 years or so. Most of us thought the great battles of our division would be Mariota vs. Luck. Now, it’s looking like Watson vs. Mariota. And the Watson we saw yesterday? I thought it would be another 2 or 3 years before he was playing on that level. Scary.

  10. Let’s slow it down on Watson. He may be really good, he may not be. He has proven anybody right or wrong yet. It happens all the time some young qb comes out and lights it up the first few weeks of the season and then the more tape that is out on him he begins to come back down to earth. Let’s wait and see.

  11. Pats may win the AFC East but I would not at all be surprised if the Buffalo Bills win it this season.

  12. Bill O’Brien and John Fox need to start a QB Anonymous support group.
    O’Brien could very bring back Savage next week, and Fox merely tells us the QB isn’t as important as you think.

  13. I completely gave up on The Cleveland Browns on draft night when Watson was sitting right there, we desperately needed a QB, and they traded down with Houston who promptly grabbed him. I no longer have sympathy for the Browns. They are damaged goods who may never field a respectable team for the remainder of the decade.

  14. thetooloftools says:
    October 2, 2017 at 8:53 am
    I completely gave up on The Cleveland Browns on draft night when Watson was sitting right there, we desperately needed a QB, and they traded down with Houston who promptly grabbed him. I no longer have sympathy for the Browns. They are damaged goods who may never field a respectable team for the remainder of the decade.
    —————————————————————————————

    Don’t worry, the Browns still have DeShone Kizer, Moneyball, and a coach who won a game last year. Yes, that was sarcasm.

  15. For those being critical of O’Brien and all the experts not knowing how good Watson is, remember Tom Brady! Until they step on the field and begin to play, you just don’t know (i.e. Ryan Leaf).

  16. This is not a surprise for me on Watson. When everyone were talking up Trubisky and Mahones, I was thinking to myself, “when do we disregard college play.” 2 years in a row, Watson beat up on an Alabama defense that were full of pro players. He didn’t do it like Vince Young did with a gimmick offense. And I remember saying, this guy will be the best QB in this draft. Granted we have a very small sample size and the 2 QBs picked before him haven’t even started games yet but Watson is doing something even some vets aren’t doing.

    With a mediocre Offensive Line, he has been destroying the teams he played the last 2 games.

  17. Run-based QBs look good early every year…And then they fade year after year from there, unless they can grow into a legit passing QB.

    The jury is still out and will be all year and into next year.

  18. Why don’t the Chargers go somewhere that wants a team? Somewhere like St. Louis or San Antonio or Portland, where they could be #1 for the entire football season and not a distant #2 as they currently are (or even farther down if you count UCLA/USC).

  19. angrydave38 says:
    October 2, 2017 at 9:38 am
    If you want to crown him already, then crown his @$$ !
    —————-
    HE IS WHO WE THOUGHT HE WAS! AND WE LET HIM OFF THE HOOK!

  20. thereisalwaysnextyear says:
    October 2, 2017 at 6:13 am
    Well his college coach knew. He said passing on Watson in draft would be like passing on Michael Jordan.
    ————

    they’ve played all of 4 games. relax.

  21. titimium says:
    October 2, 2017 at 6:38 am
    It didn’t take a pro NFL scout to know that Adrian Peterson would be a very bad fit for the Saints. It was easy to see him as a very square peg going into the round hole. So why couldn’t GM Mickey Loomis and “genius” offensive head coach Sean Payton see this from a mile away before signing him???

    Agreed. It was a waste of resources (Peterson signed a 2 year $7 million contract with $3.5 million fully guaranteed at signing). That money could have helped shore up that bottom tier defense instead of paying an aging back to take 4 carries a game. Not only that but Peterson is impeding the development of Kamara, a far better fit for this offense. Ingram and Kamara should be in 60/40 split as far as snaps go. When Peterson is in defenses don’t have to worry much about chasing him on passing routed. He limits plays the offense can run when he is on the field.

    People like to blame Brees for the Saints cap troubles when in reality this all falls to Loomis and his head scratching signings.

  22. torebear says:
    October 2, 2017 at 6:52 am
    Darren Fells is not directly competing with Ebron for snaps. Fells is a stud blocker who also catches passes. Ebron is a pass catcher who can also to some extent block.
    Fells weights 280lbs while Ebron is 250lbs. Different roles and different strengths/weaknesses.

    ————————-

    I assume you are a Lions fan in Michigan like me.

    As soon as Ebron starts catching balls let me know. His weakness is his hands, he quite simply can’t catch consistently, which we all know is the #1 sill a TE has to have. Automatic reception, valve for Stafford. Ebron has so much physical ability and speed he should be a game changer- he just can’t make the big grab. Heck-Watch his TD in the Monday night game against NY- he almost dropped it wide open.

    It was 100% clear that he was phased out yesterday, likely to send a message after he dropped key passes in the Atlanta loss.

    his option won’t be picked up- everyone is out of patience with him.

  23. London doesn’t want the Chargers either. The only town that wanted them was San Diego, and that’s past tense. Dean Spanos has made a monumental mistake from which the franchise may never recover.

  24. Because of Roger Goodell’s insatiable greed, the NFL just had to place 2 teams in LA even though it’s been proven that it’s hardly a football town, and this embarrassment is the result.
    =====

    If by Goodell you mean the 30 teams that allowed the Chargers to relocate..

  25. How about Deshaun Watson!!! I remember the so-called “experts” critical analysis of this kid pretty much saying he wouldn’t make it in the pros, rating every other no-name QB who with way lesser resume’s ahead of him. Many even said he wouldn’t shouldn’t go in the first round. I always wonder what is their agenda when they “rag” on an almost 2-time national champion, who proved himself to have great character and leadership while doing it.

  26. adrian peterson isnt done, hes just done being a marquis back. hes averaging 3 a pop and has picked up 5 first downs. hes useful to the saints in that role, and if an injury comes through, you might see him get 15 to 25 carries in a game and get a stat line like he did in his prime.

  27. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. But, who do you think the Texans will face in the Super Bowl?

  28. I said early on the Charger move was a huge business mistake. Now Spanos/Fabriani have trapped themselves. Spanos can’t move again because it would cost him another $650 million. The team won’t be sold in LA, which is a main reason he moved for “a fresh start.” A new owner would have to relocate the team for the $650 million on top of the $1 billion he/she paid for the team. Early on, I stated the LA entertainment dollar is spread way too thin. The NFL and Goodell either have a massive problem only they can fix, or allow Spanos/Fabriani and Carson to “die on the vine.” The only solution right now is to ask for relief from the NFL owners and Kroenke….the latter would do it to “own” LA. Renew the lease on San Diego Stadium. While “writing off” this year, renovate San Diego stadium to be completed by the 2019 season. Return to SD while finishing up this year in Carson. It’s the only option now. The whole thing is unraveling.

  29. Instead of constantly beating the drum that O’Brien messed up the QB situation, maybe, just maybe, him sticking with Savage that long kept Watson hungry enough to keep trying to get better. I don’t think its fair to continually criticize O’Brien, especially in lieu of the current results he’s getting

  30. Sometimes couples divorce, then after being apart, realize they were better together then work out their differences, remarry and live happily ever after. It’s time for the Chargers and San Diego to reconcile and leave LA. They had no business coming here to LA, but I understood their dilemma with SD. With small crowds and a hefty relocation fee of over a half billion bucks, they’re better off going back home where they are loved.

    San Diego Super Chargers!

  31. The Ebron phase out is not what’s happening with Fells. Jumped to a conclusion there.

    AP is getting old, but I wouldn’t say he has nothing left. The truth is he’s on the wrong team. I’d be surprised if the Saints don’t trade him for a 7th round pick to a team that needs a RB that is a volume back (with Carson shattering his leg last night… Seattle seems like an apt fit, so do teams like Washington, Detroit (although, they would have to run less shotgun formations), NYG, TB, Cards, and Colts (Gore and AP could perform some sweet celebrations, like dancing the Charleston and other things old people do…) His skill set would fit better in those offenses.

  32. “cardinealsfan20 says:

    What exactly were the Chargers supposed to do? Apparently they were supposed to continue to play in the worst stadium outside of Oakland. San Diego politicians and voters refused to remedy a situation that everyone knew was untenable. Stop crying about it.
    ==================================================

    What were they supposed to do? Oh, I don’t know, BUILD THEIR OWN STADIUM, perhaps? Why should the taxpayers or visitors to San Diego pay for the lavish palace of a private business? Kroenke is building his own stadium because there’s no way in hell, we in LA would give multi billionaires a single cent in public money. There are massive skyscrapers going up all over downtown LA and they are all privately funded. These cost over a billion.

    No one in LA wanted the Chargers, and especially not Spanos after what HE did to our neighbors to the south.

  33. “Why should the taxpayers or visitors to San Diego pay for the lavish palace of a private business?”

    Well, you’d pay for it if you really want a team. If you don’t want to pay for it, that’s fine. But again, if you don’t want to pay don’t cry about a private business moving where it wants to go. I bet that otherwise you’re a huge supporter of private businesses.

    “There are massive skyscrapers going up all over downtown LA and they are all privately funded”.

    If think that there are no public incentives included in those projects you’re more niave than you need to be.

  34. The Chargers would do better in London than LA. LA never wanted one team there so Goodell gives that city two teams. Brilliant Roger.
    Watson is fun to watch and it is no surprise after watching him at Clemson he did the same thing there.
    AD now stands for All Done.

  35. Nah the jags r going to london and the afc east while the dolphins go to the afc south.

    Obviously who ever goes to london has to play in the east cause of travel. They arent going to have them switch conference and play in the nfc east. Plus the team they would swit h with bc of travel would be the cowboys and theres no way they take cowboys away from the eagles giants and skins. So switching with dolphins makes the most sense. Seeing that the travel to miami instead of jacksonville wont b that much different to afc south teams and buffalo boston n ny is about as close to london as u can get.

    Or u give spanos the jags u give khan the chargers to move to london. U put the dolphins in the south. The london chargers in the east, and either the texans or colts in the west.

  36. I have watched the Texans,since they came into existence. They have never,I mean never been this good on offense ever. I give O Brien credit he sees what he has at the qb position,and he revamped the entire offense 2 weeks ago,and he’s destroying defenses. This is a hard team to keep out of the end zone. Most people may think the KC game Sunday night will.be a test. I don’t think so. Take a look what the Texans did against KC last year with absolutely no offense. Will Fuller owned Kc.This is the most dangerous team in the league right now.

  37. The Chargers will return to San Diego. A deal will get done to Retrofit Qualcomm and all of moving debt will be forgiven by the NFL. There is no way the shield allows the embarrassment to continue. I say they give it one more year and then it’s a wrap. Think this year is bad? Wait until no one renews for season tix next year. Plus all the fans are making the trip up from San Diego. The Eagles game was NOTHING compared to what’s to come when The Raiders play. This is going to get SUPER UGLY.

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