As protection improves, Deshaun Watson runs less

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Don’t look now, but Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson isn’t looking to run as much as he used to.

And there’s a good reason for it. As both Watson and coach Bill O’Brien separately told reporters on Wednesday, Watson is enjoying better performance from his offensive line, allowing him to focus on finding an open receiver instead of trying to find an open running lane.

“Yeah, for sure,” Watson said regarding the connection between improved blocking and reduced running. “I mean, me just trusting in my O-line, and me trusting in the passing concepts and just trusting my eyes and my feet, and trusting my instincts that I know when to escape and when I can just stick in even when the pocket seems like it’s pounding on me. Just trusting it and sticking to what I know, and the receivers are going to be where I want them to be, and putting the ball in the right place. Definitely been working hard on that and continue to trust in those guys up front because they’re doing a great job.”

It helps that receiver Will Fuller has been healthy, giving Watson a potent option in the passing game. But O’Brien agrees that the offensive line has been doing its job.

“I think that the protection’s been better,” O’Brien said. “I think that he has so much experience now in reading coverages and knows where to go with the ball. That’s going to be a whole other ball game this week [against the Broncos]. You go up against Vic Fangio’s defense, you’re going to have to do a good job of knowing where to go with the ball because you’ve got Von Miller rushing, you’ve got some really good guys up front and then you’ve got some good DBs. So, again, we’ve got to a good job protecting, guys have to do a good job running routes and Deshaun’s got to make great decisions.”

Watson had only four rushing attempts during Sunday night’s win over the Patriots, and two of them came on end-of-game kneel-downs.

For the season, Watson has run the ball 62 times for 300 yards.