Looking to completely turn their season around after starting 0-3, the Texans got their first W of the season against the Giants. You can see the breakdown of that game in the Volume 3, but today we are looking at the next 4 W's on this legendary winning streak. We beat the Cowboys, Bills, Jaguars and Dolphins. Three tough, close wins, then finally a dam burst and we exploded against the Dolphins. Let's dive into the film and see what happened from Watson's POV.
Watson Watch - Volume 4: 2018 Weeks 5-8
Week 5: Vs. Dallas Cowboys
Beating the Colts was great, it's always good to beat a divisional opponent. But the battle for Texas was another epic matchup. Deshaun Watson put up big numbers and had clutch plays, leading us to the W. He finished 33/44 for 375 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT. Let's dive into the film!
This first throw is as "Deshaun Watson" as it gets. He faced pressure all day but did his best magic act to avoid it. He steps up into the pocket to avoid the first defender, but another one gets into his face and he has to scramble out to his right. He keeps his eyes downfield and is always looking for someone open. Nuk's the guy crossing the field and Watson fires it to him. Great throw on the run and his ability to escape danger will never not amaze me. These plays have become so routine for him.
I thought this next throw was a really important thing to talk about. Watson actually had solid chemistry with TE Ryan Griffen, and there were a couple plays where the two were on the exact same page. With BOB's offense having so many option routes built in, QB and WR/TE really have to see the defense the same. So when Griffen is running this wheel route, the LB is on top of him and has him covered up. So the only place Watson can get a completion here is if he throws it short and to the sideline, away from the LB. That's what he does and Griffen luckily sees it too, trails off his route and makes the catch. The LB had perfect coverage, but Watson can beat perfect coverage with an even more perfect throw.
This game was a battle and neither team could really pull away. But late in the game, when we needed him most, Deshaun stepped up to the plate, as always. He steps up to avoid the pressure and gives Nuk a great ball. The ball placement here is really underrated in my opinion. He leads him away from the CB and upfield, allowing him to catch it in stride and get as much YAC as possible. Nuk deserves credit for making a million guys miss but Watson deserves credit for putting him in the position to do so. Watson's ball placement is usually on point, and will only get better. What a play, and what a way to seal the game.
Week 6: Vs. Buffalo Bills
The next task against the Bills would not be easy, but was hard fought. Their defense was legit, and definitely got to Watson. He finished 15/25 for 177 yards 1 TD and 2 INTs. It was ugly at times, but we got the job done and that's all that matters.
A huge part of Watson's development is how he improves dealing with these nickel blitzes. They were a big struggle for him in 2018, as we see here. From the endzone view you can see that he quickly looks to his left to check the blitzing DB. So he saw it coming, and Fuller released that he's the hot read, and stopped his route short. So the throw was there, but for some reason Watson looked to his right for someone else. This needs to get better, but I'm confident it will, Deshaun is a WORKER.
I love this next throw by Watson because of his elite pocket presence here. We saw as a rookie he wasn't the best, and sometimes got happy feet, scrambling when he doesn't need to. But in 2018 I've seen a huge improvement in this aspect. He senses the pressure, calmly steps up, and fires a dart to Coutee. He looks like a poised veteran here.
Watson's lone TD in this game was a beauty. He goes to Nuk on the slot fade, but the throw is just so special. CB Tre'Davious White is all over Nuk, so the ball placement needs to be perfect. Watson happily obliges and puts the ball high and away from the CB, in a spot where only Nuk can get it. Couldn't have gotten a better thow.
But like I said, it wasn't a pretty game, it was actually pretty ugly. Watson threw two INTs, one of which was tipped at the line and unlucky. But this one was just a really poor decision. He rolls out of the pocket, avoiding pressure. He looks downfield and wants to make a hero play, but no one is open. He tosses it into the end zone, in hope of finding Ryan Griffen but just doesn't see the Safety sitting right in front of him, and essentially hands him the ball. I don't know what Watson saw here but it was an awful decision. Need to cut these out.
Those INTs weren't back breaking though, and the Texans held on to win the game, thanks to two INTs from our own defense. Thank you Josh Allen and Nathan Peterman!
Week 7: Vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
For me, that Bills W instilled a lot of confidence, and so heading to the Jags I thought it'd be an easy W. It was so, and Watson didn't even need to have a good game. He finished 12/24 for 139 yards and 1 TD. He played a safe game and leaned on a strong run game that totalled 141 yards.
But it's not like he didn't have some WOW throws. Like this one to Nuk down the sideline. Nuk isn't really that open, but Deshaun throws him open with the perfectly placed pass. This is another one of those plays where he beats perfect coverage with a better throw.
I wanted to talk about this next play because it showcases how Watson makes his reads. He almost always reads high to low, meaning he will look for the deepest route first, then make his way down to the check down. This is what leads him to missing his check downs sometimes, because they are the last option, but also what leads to the big plays. As you can see here, he's reading Fuller's route first, as he looks like he should get open on this deep out route. Hopkins is open underneath, but Watson looks him off and trusts Fuller. Most of these plays work out, and Watson deserves more credit for when he holds onto the ball and makes a play. If this was incomplete, everyone would be screaming at him for missing Nuk. I don't know if I got my point across but I hope you get what I mean.
This last play against the Jags was his lone TD. It was our patented red zone play where we just look to find Nuk on a slant. He runs a great route and Watson gives him a great ball. He has to put it over the LB in his way, so he floats it up to Nuk, putting nice touch on the ball. He drops it in a bucket and doing so from such short distance is actually really tough. Well deserved TD and at this point the Texans never looked back. Add on another W!
Week 8: Vs. Miami Dolphins
Next week the Dolphins were in town and no matter how much of a Texans homer you are, I'm pretty confident you weren't expecting this offensive explosion. Deshaun Watson had a historic game, finishing 16/20 for 239 yards, 5 TDs and 0 INTs. The fact that he had more TDs than incompletions still blows my mind. Let's look at all 5 of them!
The first TD was all because of a great play action fake. Look at how the ENTIRE Dolphins defense bites on the fake, and get burnt for it. Jordan Thomas runs WIDE open and D4 just has to simply toss it to him. I miss Jordan Thomas being that red zone beast. He was the talk of training camp last year and hope he can get back to that level. His potential is still ridiculous.
This next TD has got to be the longest time any QB has run around in the backfield, it was ridiculous. Watson rolls out right but doesn't like anything. Then he has to loop back around to the left, and keeps backing up until he finally finds Thomas in the end zone. These are the exact types of plays that won't happen if Watson "just hits his check downs" earlier. He's a big play guy by nature, and I think we got to let him do him. This is his game and it pays off way more often than not.
Maaan, Watson throws one of the most beautiful deep balls ever. Can't wait for more of this connection (PLEASE STAY HEALTHY WILL). Fuller completely burns his CB, and the Safety bites on Nuk, leaving Fuller wide open. Watson gives him a great ball to run under, catch it in stride and just walk into the end zone. 73 YARD TOUCHDOWN!
Another huge touchdown and you can see Watson waiting to see if Fuller is going to come open again. He wants the big touchdown and knows that Fuller can give that to him. So even though he sees Nuk open, he doesn't hit him right away, because he doesn't think that Nuk can score from that part of the field. But Fuller gets covered better, and so Watson finds Nuk. Who somehow runs free into the end zone, how do you get outrun by Nuk lol.
The last TD came on a great slant route by Nuk on the goal line. Watson gives him a great ball out in front of Nuk, so that the CB can't make a play on it. These red zone slants were easy money, and it's something that we'll have to improvise on now without Nuk.
That was one of the most entertaining games to watch as a Texans fan. We just kept on piling on the Dolphins and had no mercy. It was also great to see Osweiler take a big L. That game made it 5 wins in a row, and I don't know about you, but I was on top of the world. We were clicking on all cylinders and it looked like nothing could stop us. Tune in next week for the next 4 wins!