The Real Difference between 2018 and 2012 Is Deshaun Watson

Jayson Braddock on Dec. 21, 2018

I’ve heard over the last few weeks that “These Texans aren’t as good as the 2012 Texans.” I decided to pull the stats for comparison’s sake. What I found was encouraging.

The Texans still need two more wins to match the 12-4 record from the 2012 season. Houston travels to Philadelphia this weekend to take on the reigning world champs. Nick Foles, the Texas high school star quarterback and the savior of the 2017 miraculous championship ride, is back in the saddle for the 7-7 Eagles. The Texans then finish out the season at home against the Jaguars.

When I dig into the stats, what really jumps out about 2018 is how the Texans are 30th in red zone and goal-to-go percent on defense this season. On the opposite side of the ball, the Texans are tied for 26th in red zone percent and tied for 27th in goal-to-go percent. These are troubling categories for this year’s club.

The rest of the numbers were intriguing, especially what Brad Seely is doing with the Texans special teams unit on both sides, in year one. After looking all of the columns over, I found it odd how similar the points per game were. Neither of these teams were “fluke” four-loss teams.

JBraddock 2018 vs 2012 table 1.png

The biggest difference between the 2012 and 2018 teams for the Houston franchise is at the most important position in all of sports, quarterback. While we can’t compare Matt Schaub’s 16 games from that season to Deshaun Watson’s 16 games for this season yet, the 14 games in the book do give us a large enough sample size for a fair comparison into who they were as quarterbacks during their team’s success and failures.

JBraddock 2018 vs 2012 table 2.png

*splits courtesy of Pro Football Reference

Deshaun Watson is built for this; but Matt Schaub was what Kirk Cousins is today. A Schaub or a Cousins will get the big contract because he can be a top 10 regular season fantasy quarterback, run the offense, and get you to the playoffs, if there is a strong enough team around him.

Watson elevates the team around him. He always has. Watson has shown in high school, college and the pros that he’s among the best of the best. He’s also shown that he can take his game to the next level whenever he needs to. Whether it’s the playoffs or a game the team needs on the road in Philadelphia in late December, the 2012 team didn’t have a big moment quarterback. Watson excels in the biggest moments; Schaub exacerbated those moments.

Saying the 2012 Texans team was/is better than the 2018 Texans team is the same as being the guy who said back in 1992, “Christian Laettner is a better fit on the Dream Team than Shaq.”

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