Deshaun Watson was Sunday’s real winner, and other Week Eight thoughts

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In the best game of this NFL season on Sunday, Deshaun Watson was the best player on the field.

Watson’s Texans lost in Seattle, and we have a tendency to judge quarterbacks by wins and losses. But Watson was such an incredible player in that loss to the Seahawks that I think he’s more than just the favorite for rookie of the year. He might be the league MVP.

Think that’s an overstatement? Then you need to think more about just how putrid the Texans’ offense was before Watson came along. Last year, the Texans’ offense was so bad that this offseason they sent a second-round pick to Cleveland just to get the Browns to take Brock Osweiler off their hands. In Week One this year, when Tom Savage started at quarterback, the Texans were such a disaster that Savage was benched for Watson at halftime.

And what have the Texans done since Watson took the helm? Just been the best offense in football over the last five weeks. Houston has scored 33, 57, 34, 33 and 38 points in its last five games. That’s by far the most of any team in the league. Last year the Texans never scored more than 27 points in a game — not once all season.

Watson is the first rookie in NFL history to throw at least three touchdown passes in four consecutive games, and his 16 touchdowns over the last four games are the most that any rookie has ever had in any four-game stretch. Watson’s 19 passing touchdowns are the most any player has ever had in his first seven NFL games — and remember, of Watson’s first seven games, he came off the bench at halftime in the first, and he was starting for the first time on a short work week in the second.

Yes, the Texans are 3-4. But that’s not on Watson. Houston has major holes, with a mess of an offensive line, an injury-plagued defense and bad special teams. What it also has is the most exciting young talent to enter the NFL this year, and maybe in many years.

Here are my other thoughts from Sunday:

When will defensive players learn? It still amazes me how many defensive players don’t understand that if you catch a game-winning interception you need to go down, not try to return it. Yesterday it was Saints defensive back Marshon Lattimore, who clinched the win with an interception and instead of going down, tried to return it in traffic. That is not smart, and by the time you’re in the NFL, you should know better.

Facemasking should be reviewable. There was an absolutely ridiculous facemasking call against the Saints on Sunday, and replays clearly showed that no penalty had been committed. If Sean Payton were allowed to challenge it, he surely would have. But the NFL only allows a few penalties to be challenged, and facemasking isn’t one of them. And that’s dumb: It’s probably the penalty that would be easiest to fix with instant replay.

Dean Blandino needs work. When FOX hired Mike Pereira away from the league’s officiating office to have him explain refereeing, it was a great step in football television analysis. Unfortunately, it was also apparently a one-time occurrence. Because Mike Carey tried to do the same thing on CBS and was an abject failure, and now Blandino is trying to do it on FOX and can’t get the job done. He’s so wishy-washy that he sometimes won’t even say during a replay review if he thinks the ruling on the field was right or wrong, and when he disagrees with the replay review — as he did with Bears tight end Zach Miller‘s overturned touchdown catch yesterday — we never know if he’s right or the NFL’s replay office is right. Blandino has a lot of work to do if he’s ever going to add value to a broadcast the way Pereira does.

Maybe Christian McCaffrey should be a wide receiver. McCaffrey, the Panthers’ rookie running back, is having a very good season catching the ball. With five catches for 49 yards in yesterday’s win over the buccaneers, McCaffrey now has 49 catches for 378 yards in just half a season. McCaffrey is on pace for 98 catches, which would be an NFL rookie record for a running back. Unfortunately, McCaffrey also had just four carries for three yards yesterday, and on the season he now had 48 carries for 117 yards, a pathetic average of 2.4 yards a carry.

The Colts’ problems go much deeper than Andrew Luck‘s injury. Indianapolis dropped to 2-6 with a loss to Cincinnati yesterday, and it wasn’t the fault of fill-in quarterback Jacoby Brissett at all. Brissett completed 25 of 39 passes for 233 yards, with two touchdowns, despite getting terrible protection up front and some ugly dropped passes. The Colts just have an awful roster across the board. They might be better than 2-6 if Luck were healthy, but they wouldn’t be much better.

So much for the Bills tanking. When the Bills traded Sammy Watkins and Ronald Darby in August, people said they weren’t even trying to win this year. Now they’re 5-2 and look like a playoff team. The whole “tanking” thing is overdone. There are teams that build for the future, and the Bills are one of them — they’ve done a nice job of stockpiling picks in next year’s draft. But NFL teams want to win every time they take the field. The Bills are playing winning football.

31 responses to “Deshaun Watson was Sunday’s real winner, and other Week Eight thoughts

  1. Sportswriters and haters,say what you will.I said it when the Texans picked him
    He was the best qb in the draft. I don’t know what most organizations are using to evaluate players,but they all flopped when they passed on Watson.He has played better than any rookie taken in the draft.This team has gone from a dismal offense,to unstoppable with the same players since he’s been here.Now if Mike Vrabel can just get out of those ignorant zone coverages,this team can be very,very,hard to beat.Two national championship game appearances in 2 years,and the Bears took Trubisky who played in the same conference.WOW

  2. I saw the facemask penalty on the Saints that you speak of. The ref called the wrong jersey number, but the facemask happened. The commentators saw it, too. You should watch the replay again.

  3. Sure Watson had 3 picks, including an ugly pick 6, but the loss wasn’t on him. He’s good, shows lots of promise, but he’s still a rookie making rookie mistakes. Pump the brakes a bit.

  4. Sure Watson had 3 picks, including an ugly pick 6 in a game they lost by less than a td, but the loss wasn’t on him.
    He’s good, shows lots of promise, but he’s still a rookie making rookie mistakes. Pump the brakes a bit.

  5. I also think the real winner was college football, and the way they’re developing QBs for the NFL. We’re seeing so many great young QBs coming into the league and a few more will be coming in the next draft.

  6. MVP race is definitely between Watson and Wentz right now, although Wentz has the Eagles at 7-1 so he should get the nod. Watson is definitely the front runner and leader for offensive rookie of the year!!!!!

  7. Bills head coach Sean McDermott has done such a remarkable job with solidifying the thought process of team solidarity. Except for McCoy, there are no superstars which means no big egos to deal with. The players have bought in that everybody is 1/11th of the offense or defense and that together they’re a family.

    And the results speak for themselves!

  8. Rookie with no film and no expectations comes in and lights the place up for 12 games until DCs all decipher his weaknesses and away he goes. How many times do we have to go through this?

  9. The facemask penalty happened before the throw As Sims was cutting across the middle of the field, the defender (official got his number wrong) reached out and likely accidentally caught his facemask. The official is clearly seen throwing his flag before the ball got to Sims, so that’s what he flagged, not anything after or during the catch. That’s not to say that they did a good job in this game.

  10. If you are going to make penalties reviewable make them all reviewable.

    The last thing I want to see is a 5 min review of a faskmask call where its subjective as to whether it should be a penalty or not.

  11. anyone who watched watson play in college could tell he was the best qb coming out last year. maybe the browns should start scouting the ncaa. it seems to be working for other teams

  12. Christian McCaffrey is a bust. He was a first round pick, but at his best, his upside will be almost as good as James White (who can actually run when called upon). He’s a third down back who lacks explosiveness.

    It’s a shame that when Houston finally discovers and comes up with a quarterback that their defense falls apart. It’s mainly due to widespread injuries, but it’s awful just the same.

  13. Mccaffey is so similar to Reggie Bush in build, ability and hype coming out of college. Neither were very good running backs in the classic sense in the NFL. To Bush’s credit he did finally manage to make himself into a decent running back for a few years but I still say he should have switched to receiver early on in his career. He likely would still be in the league now if he did.

    Same thing with Mccaffery. He should be a receiver also. Running back is the type of position you really should hit the fround running as a rookie or at least show flashes and I haven’t seen that at all from him. Maybe he’s in the wrong offensive scheme.

  14. Everyone laughed when the Clemson coach warned the Browns that passing on Watson would be like passing on Michael Jordan. Of course there is only one Jordan but never mind rookie of the year Watson is already one of the top ten best quarterbacks in football

  15. The best QB of the draft won’t be playing until next year. But Watson’s not too bad. Reminds me a lot of RG3, we’ll just assume the league won’t figure out Watson after 6-7 games, because that doesn’t happen…

  16. Wait… What? Wilson threw for more yards and had 2 less interceptions. And had the game WINNING drive. All behind an O-line that is easily the worst in football. Exactly how was Watson the best player on the field?

  17. Watson is a sensational rookie, and had a great game yesterday. However, we don’t want to go down the road of fantasy football, and devalue winning. There’s a reason why the QB is the most crucial position in football, and the best QBs win. Stats are fine for fantasy football purposes, but the QB must eventually win. You won’t find any elite QBs with mediocre W/L records.

  18. That McCaffrey pick I said was dumb at the time, and he’s been as ordinary as I thought he’d be as an RB. Carolina tried to spin it as him being a gadget player, slot receiver type, but you don’t take those players top 10. You just don’t. Just as dumb as when the Rams took Austin that high and tried to justify it. Therefore, they continue to not have a good running game as Stewart slows down to complement Newton who still has to be the short yardage back. Major failure by Gettleman on his way out the door.

  19. Newton, RG3, and Kaepernick looked great when they burst on the scene too. Now? Newton is up and down, and RG3 and Kaep are both out of the league! So let’s pump the brakes here. Now, I think Watson is more like Wilson then the other 3 I mentioned in that he’ll have staying power but we won’t know that for another couple of years.
    Heck, Prescott and Wentz are doing it in their 2nd year and yet their hype trains aren’t as loud (Wentz is nearly there with the hype, but his team is winning. Prescott is having a great year on a mediocre team and so he’s not being hyped so much).

  20. Maybe you should ask Watson if he is Sunday’s real winner, my guess is no.
    He cares about winning, if he team didn’t win, he didn’t win. Period.

  21. Yes, Watson’s the real winner…not the team whose QB had better numbers and won the game…Watson’s the winner

    What world do we line in?

    I would also suggest that Wilson is the one starting to head towards MVP talk rather than Watson.

    The Seahawks had negative rushing yards yesterday late in the game… the entire offense was Russell Wilson.

    I love Watson in how he plays and his class after a loss and his attitude about life. But the only possible MVP of the league I saw yesterday was Russell Wilson.

    Watson can be the Rookie of the Year and everybody wins.

    At least the Texans had a bit of a running game to help Watson.

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