Houston Texans Quarterback Deshaun Watson is obviously the most important player on the team. So I have been rewatching every single game of his career to see his development, enjoy the highlights, and learn from the mistakes along the way. In this week's volume of Watson Watch, we break down the film of the next four games in the 2019 season, against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Baltimore Ravens (ugh), Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots. Enjoy!
Watson Watch Volume 10: 2019 Weeks 9-13
Week 9: Vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
After a tough fought win vs the Oakland Raiders, it was off to London to face the Jags, the bottom dwellers of the AFC South. Deshaun Watson finished 22/28 for 201 yards, 2 TDs and 0 INTs. A clean, efficient game, and fewer passing yards you would like, because we leaned heavily on a run game that totalled 34 attempts for 216 yards. Let's break down the film through Watson's eyes.
The Texans would start off the game with a clock killing 15-play drive. One of the biggest plays of that drive, that helped eventually set up a field goal, was a great connection between Watson and Duke Johnson. Zach Fulton gets destroyed but no problem, Watson escapes the pocket and scrambles out to the right. With limited options to his side, things don't look promising at first. But Duke is matched up 1-on-1 with a LB, which is a death sentence for the LB. He gets free and runs to the sideline, making himself a target. Watson fires a perfect throw while on the run, and the two connect for 21 yards.
After another clutch pass to Duke Johnson, that drive would end in three points. A little anticlimactic for such a long drive, but points are points! And that had to be one of the first "first drives" where we actually scored, so moral victory lol! After two drives for either team, the Texans would go on another long drive, and find themselves on the Jaguars 1 yard line. They go shotgun with TE Darren Fells in a split wing formation. Watson motions DeAndre Carter across the backfield as misdirection, then fakes the handoff to Carlos Hyde. The defense has to respect both fakes, which slows them down and allows Fells to sneak out into the flat, and for Watson to find him in the end zone easily.
The RPO game has become a huge part of the offense on crucial downs, and Fells has been a major beneficiary. Even more so in the red zone, where his NFL leading 7 TDs made a huge difference in the Texans much improved red zone efficiency from years past.
Moving onto the second half and the Texans were looking to put the game away. After forcing a punt, the offense would get two huge chunk plays (48 yard run, 21 yard pass) to get onto the 1 yard line, where Duke Johnson would punch in the touchdown. Let's look at that 21 yard pass between Watson and Hopkins. We line up Nuk in the slot, and former Texans CB AJ Bouye follows him. Hop stutters on the release and wins inside leverage on the seam route. Watson sees the great positioning and fires a perfect ball above the LB. He leaves it high and away from Bouye, where only Nuk can get it. His ball placement has always been a strength, and is super underrated to the public.
Late in the 4th, the Jags seemed like they had the slightest bit of life, so Watson needed to take away all their hope. Down on the goal line, with Nuk isolated to his right, he knew where this ball was going the entire time. After the ball is snapped he quickly turns to his right and fires the ball into Nuk's chest on the slant. He's covered pretty damn well, but it doesn't matter.
This is the biggest place we are going to miss Nuk imo. He killed CBs on these slant routes, and if we cant finish in the red zone, all the investments we've made in the offense will be worthless. Hopefully someone steps up, or they find a way to better scheme guys open in the red zone. Or just score 30+ yard TDs, that works too!
That touchdown sealed the game, the Jags stood no chance, and it was the first double digit win in four weeks. Something that is some much needed relief for us fans' blood pressure and a great way to go into the bye week!
Week 11: Vs. Baltimore Ravens
Freshly recharged after a bye, and with a week to prepare for the Ravens, knowing the result of this game is extremely frustrating. We simply just didn't show up, coaching wise, but also execution. Deshaun Watson would finish 18/29 for 169 yards, 0 TDS and 1 INT. Undoubtedly one of the worst games of his season. The Ravens defense was all over our offense. The DL dominated our OL, blitzes came through free and the secondary was smothering WRs. As great as Watson is, what can he do when no ones open and he's got pressure all day long? Let's see what we can find and learn from in this onslaught.
The first drive of the game ended early, when Watson got sacked and lost the ball. Was this his fault or the OLs? Or the WRs? Well as Watson hits the top of his drop he's looking left to Stills, Akins and Duke. Duke is the only one "open" but with a LB three yards away from him, Watson doesn't like the checkdown. Before Hopkins comes open to his right, Watson has to avoid pressure and run in the opposite direction of where Hop is headed. Although open, attempting that cross body throw would be silly. He runs to the right side of the pocket and is trapped. He avoids the first three defenders and works to the left side of the pocket, refusing to go down. Three more defenders converge on him and since he's within the hashes, he can't throw the ball away without a penalty. With no one open, he takes the sack, but loses the ball. A super demoralizing start to the game, but there was still tons of time left.
Who do you think was most responsible for that sack? Nothing was open early, but when Watson was scrambling to the right of the pocket, he should've just thrown it away, instead of working back to his left. I get that he wants to make the highlight play, and like 8/10 times it works, but those are the plays he needs to cut out of his game. They're just unnecessary risks, running around for that long. I'm all for "gunslinger", "off-script", "highlight-reel" Deshaun Watson. But he needs to find a better balance, and cut out these extreme plays.
This next play showcases why it's so hard to find that balance. The first 4th down of the game, and BOB trusts Watson to make a play (as he should). After the ball is snapped, Watson pump fakes to Keke Coutee, who had about a yard of space created. It probably could've been completed, but Watson got spooked at the last second. Is it because Coutee has a history of letting him down on drops? has he lost trust with Keke? Or did he just think that defender would close space quick enough. Who knows, but you can clearly see him change his mind at the last second. With his RT losing his block, Watson starts sidestepping to his left, where everyone is blanketed. Except for DeAndre Hopkins, who has a step on his defender and a perfect throw could lead him open. Watson sees it too and goes for the home run. He leads Hop perfectly but he was held back from the ball. I was beyond SHOCKED AND APPALLED when there was no call. The replay was so obvious that Nuk was interfered with and we should've gotten the ball on the goal line.
The result of the play is one thing, but I've always believed in process > results. So was Watson's process the right one? Similar to the first play, he scrambled back to the left of the pocket, putting him in a position where he can't throw away the ball. But this time's different because it's 4th down, there's no giving up anyways. This play was also the right decision because the pocket was cleaner and he wasn't scrambling around like a chicken with his head cut off for as long as the other play. He looked calm and composed here, reading the defense and finding the open guy. I'm totally fine with him taking this "risk" on 4th down, even though the result of the play is bad. His process was good, and these plays will yield positive results more often than not. The refs are just oblivious, but what's new.
As mentioned before, Watson was under heat all day. The Ravens are one of the teams that blitz the most in the NFL *cough cough Weaver pls make us one too* and the Ravens send 5, but the Texans block 6, so we should be fine. But for whatever the reason, the usually sturdy left side of the OL just forgot how to block for a play. Both Max Scharping and Laremy Tunsil must've miscommunicated, because they allowed two free runners, right after the snap. Watson is screwed from the start, before he can even hit the top of his drop, there's two Ravens screaming at him. He tries to scramble out to the right to buy time but no one is open. Watson had made it out of the pocket but did he really have enough time to throw it away? There was also a lot of green space in front of him, and can you blame him for trusting his legs and wanting to run for it? What I'm saying is this sack is on the OL, not him.
As big of a fan of Watson I am, I'm not afraid to criticize him, that's how you get better. This next play might just be the dumbest decision of his career, and I'm sure he would likely agree. After the play action fake, no one is open, and he instantly has pressure he has to step up and avoid. He starts to run for it, but there's two Ravens closing in on him hot. All season he had found Hyde on these desperate, last second dump offs, and he would usually benefit with huge gains. But not this time. Watson tries to throw cross body, across the field, and with at least three Ravens in between him and Hyde. It was a super risky decision, that, if had worked out, he would look like a genius. But it didn't, LB Josh Bynes jumped and picked it off with ease.
Like I said, that was a really stupid decision, and one I bet Watson wants back. He messed up, but it's easy to forget he's a young QB, who is a risk taker. Most of the time he makes the right decision, but even Brady makes stupid mistakes one out of a thousand reps. It happens, he'll learn from it and get better, because if there's one thing Watson is, it is a worker.
The Texans offense was never able to get in a rhythm. The Ravens secondary looked like they knew what play was coming, and were thus in perfect coverage all day. The OL struggled with the fiesty defense and we managed just 7 points. The defense wasn't any help either, but we aren't really looking at that with this series. It was one of the most frustrating games all year, but what's funny is that for some reason I still had a small feeling of hope. I never turned off the game and stopped watching, because as long as Deshaun Watson was in the game, anything was possible. And while there was no comeback, it's great to have that feeling about a QB again.
Week 12: Vs. Indianapolis Colts
After an embarassing loss, we couldn't drop two in a row, especially not against the rival Colts. I hate the Colts, and I hope you do too. These matchups are always close, and well fought. In this one, Watson finished 19/30 for 298 yards, 2 TDs and 1 INT. Let's see what the film shows.
After each team's first two drives led nowhere, it looked like the Texans were going to come up short yet again. On 3rd and 13 at the Colts 47, Watson would motion Duke Johnson out wide, since a LB followed him, it told Watson that the Colts were in man coverage. Since the two safeties are deep, it looks like Cover 2 man. Once the ball is snapped, the Colts do drop into that, rushing 3 and spying up Watson. A common coverage that we've seen from the Colts throughout this series, so Watson should know how to beat it. No one is open initially, except for Duke as a checkdown, but Watson wants the first, he knows he can get it. The pocket gets collapsed a bit, and Watson scrambles out right. Fells is running an out route downfield and Watson fires the ball to him, perfectly placed to the outside for a 24 yard gain.
That throw got the Texans into field goal range, and although they couldn't punch it into the end zone, they got on the board first, with three points. The defense, fuelled by the score, got a stop and gave the offense the ball back to keep the momentum going.
Instead, Watson threw an INT on the first play of the drive. The Texans ran play action and Watson saw Will Fuller open on his dig route. The play action fake drew the LBs in, but CB Kenny Moore (ugh) was able to drop back and pick off the pass. Watson threw the ball with touch instead of just firing it in, but still, he should've seen Moore backing up. I HATE KENNY MOORE.
With a short field, the Colts were able to score and take the lead. The Texans, needing to respond, looked to Watson and Hopkins to make something happened, and they happily obliged. Watson faced pressure from his right, but was able to side step it calmly. Instead of scrambling, he kept his eyes downfield and found Hopkins wide open, down the middle of the defense. There must've been a miscommunication in the Colts secondary, and if you make one mistake, Watson will make you pay. TOUCHDOWN.
The Colts would respond with a FG to tie up the game, and would add a touchdown in the 3rd quarter to go up 7. The Texans responded with 3, to cut the deficit to just 4. Both teams played good defense throughout the game, but on the first drive of the 4th quarter, Watson was tired of playing from behind.
The Colts were in a Cover 2 shell pre snap, but post snap, they rotated to a single high look. With Hopkins running a go route, Watson knew where he wanted to go, if Nuk got open. He did nicely and Watson gave him a perfect ball, leading him downfield, but just in grasp.
That touchdown would put the Texans up 20-17, which would end up being the winning score. A huge win, to bounce back from a disheartening loss. The Texans could've spiraled and lost the season, with this tough stretch, but they responded nicely. Watson played well, and made some big time plays when the team needed him most.
Week 13: Vs. New England Patriots
Oh man this is gonna be a fun one. I usually write these acting like I don't already know the outcome, but I can't even hide my excitement to recap this game. For as long as I can remember, the Patriots have been the Texans father, in all the worst senses of the word. And while I don't think anyone would say they thought we would win this game, we opposed all odds to come away with a well earned victory. I was shocked, and legit thought I was high or dreaming. Deshaun Watson was a big reason, finishing an efficient 18/25 for 234 yards, 3 TDs and 0 INTs.
After starting slow, the Texans kicked it into gear, after Bradley Roby's INT. With great field position, Watson would make sure we take advantage. We lined up Hop in the backfield, then motioned him out into the slot. This was done to check what the Pats defense was in. Since CB Stephon Gilmore followed him, Watson knew this was man. And since there was only one deep safety, Cover 1 is an easy read. This means Watson knew he had Duke Johnson 1-on-1 with a LB, and with Duke running a corner route, this was easy money. Watson instantly looks to Duke on his right, who predictably leaves the LB in the dirt. The two connect and Duke holds the ball up high, as he scampers into the end zone.
Emotions were high after the INT and TD, but it was a long game, and as Texans fans, we knew better than to think a W was guaranteed, let alone even hopeful. However, the continued to prove they came to play, getting another stop against Brady, and driving down to the Pats 13 yard line, before embarrassing them. BOB, wanting to finally beat his mentor and role model, brought out all the stops for this game. The Texans went Pistol "Full House" with three guys in the backfield, surrounding Watson like a convoy, sent to protect him. After a fake to Hyde, Akins and Fells run wheel routes out of the backfield. Stills clears out his CB, and Akins clears out his defender as well, leaving Fells wide open for one of Watson's easier throws of his career. The Texans had never shown this, and the Patriots were clearly confused and ill-prepared. TOUCHDOWN.
We were doing the unfathomable, making the Patriots look human, and actually beating them at their own game. The defense was locking down the GOAT, and Watson was stealing the torch, hungry for his spot on the throne. And we weren't done just yet. Into the 3rd quarter now and Watson had just dropped a dime, right into Will Fuller's hands, but he dropped it. Similar to the play in the playoffs when Fuller dropped a TD, thrown from Osweiler. During that game, the team was hurt by that loss of momentum, and lost a very winnable game. But we would not face the same outcome today, Watson wouldn't be discouraged, but rather motivated, to continue to step on their throats. He went right back to that exact spot of the field, throwing a dime to Kenny Stills on the post corner route. What a great ball to lead him downfield and into the end zone. The best part though was how he avoided the pressure to his left, by stepping up in the pocket and squaring his shoulders to his target, dropping a 40 yard BOMB.
You would think that would've been the nail in the coffin, right? Nope, the Texans and BOB really wanted to stick it to Bellichick (why is his name so weird to spell) and the Patriots. To do so, they enlisted the help of some backyard football. Drawing up a play that I don't even want to describe, because I wouldn't do it justice. Just let your jaw drop in awe, as you relive this beautiful masterpiece of a touchdown.
What a better way to end this weeks volume than with that play right there. The Texans would go on to win the game and although the defense did their very best to throw the W, we would prevail on an onside kick, to FINALLY beat the Patriots. We showed the NFL that day, that we could beat any team we wanted to. Every aspect of the team showed up: BOB drew up creative play after creative play to put up 28 on the best defense in the NFL. Watson, Hopkins, Duke and co executed admirably. RAC made Brady uncomfortable all day long and for 3.5 quarters had the offense in a BOX. Roby made plays, Jacob GOAT Martin had 2 sacks. EVERYTHING WENT RIGHT.