At the conclusion of Sunday's matchup in Denver, Deshaun Watson has completed his rookie season. Rookie Season, you ask? Yup, Deshaun has finally completed 16 games in the NFL. Yea, its spread out over two seasons, but it’s finally our first true benchmark to measure Watson against the best QB’s to step on the gridiron.
It hasn't exactly been all MVP performances and highlight reel film, but to say Watson isn't putting the league on notice is foolish. Deshaun Watson has amassed 4,088 yards passing, 36 touchdowns, 15 interceptions, and a 101.7 quarterback rating per NFl.com. So how does this stack up against some of the all-time greats? Well, Peyton Manning recorded 3,739 yards, 26 touchdowns, and 28 interceptions. Tom Brady threw for 2,849 yards, 18 touchdowns, and 16 interceptions in his first 16 games. Now I'm not saying Watson is the next “GOAT,” but he’s certainly put up a good case for becoming a top quarterback in the NFL for the foreseeable future!
Now, of course, everyone knows about his injury in Week Nine during practice, in which Watson suffered his second ACL tear, downing him for the remainder of the season. One thing that quickly gave most hope was their memory of what Watson did in college after suffering a torn ACL at Clemson. Watson tore his ACL in 2014, missed one game, then played against South Carolina. In that game, Watson threw for 269 yards, two touchdowns, and amazingly still rushed for 13 yards and two touchdowns as well. I believe that gave everyone in Houston hope that it wouldn't take long for Watson to return to form and help lead their beloved Texans down the field again.
Of course, there have been some bad things from Watson, but he’s a rookie, so I’m not entirely surprised. Watson has this incredible ability to escape pressure that he somehow sees with the eyes in the back of his head. However, sometimes it appears he tries to do too much and runs into more trouble than he should put himself into. What do I mean by this? Watching recent games, Watson has a habit of running into sacks. Now I know everyone is going to want to place the blame on the offensive line; I implore you to trust me that it's not all their fault, regardless of how you feel about that group's lackluster performance over the last two seasons.
Watson has been sacked an astounding 49 times in his first 16 games. That is a ton of hits to take for a QB in today's NFL! Just this past week, off the top of my head, I can think of two plays where he was “sacked” in which it appears he held onto the ball too long instead of dumping it off and moving on. This area is where Quarterback Coach Sean Ryan and Head Coach Bill O’Brien can work with Watson the most and help him turn that corner to become a prolific passer in the NFL, and stay healthy!
Now I don’t want it to seem like I’m some QB guru, and that I know exactly how to turn Watson into the best QB in the league because I don’t, or I would be getting paid a ton of money, and my phone would be blowing up! These are just general observations from re-watching game tape, and keying in on some things.
With only 16 games under his belt, a 9-7 record, arguably the best hands receiver at his disposal, the recent addition of Demaryius Thomas, and Will Fuller coming back next year, I fear the best is yet to come from the young QB, and that should put fear in the souls of defensive coordinators around the NFL.