The Houston Texans would take on the Atlanta Falcons, Kansas City Chiefs, Indianapolis Colts and Oakland Raiders in their next four games. Quarterback Deshaun Watson would make some ridiculous highlight plays during this stretch and put up serious NUMBERS. He was on fire and the offense clicked like a well oiled machine.
Watson Watch Volume 9: 2019 Weeks 5-8
Week 5: Vs. Atlanta Falcons
What a great game this was. 53 points. 53 POINTS! Every once and a while, when everyone is on the same page, this BOB offense is set for an explosion. We've seen it when we dropped 57 against the Titans in 2017 and 42 against the Dolphins in 2018. This one felt like it was so easy for Deshaun. The connection between him and Will Fuller is what I'm really going to highlight today, because they COULD NOT BE STOPPED! Watson would finish 28/33 for 426 yards, 5 TDs and 0 INTs. No big deal, just your everyday - same number of TDs as incompletions type of game.
Early in the game on our second offensive drive, we marched down to the Falcons red zone and on 2nd and 6, Watson would connect with Fuller for 6. He's in a tight formation to the right of Watson, and runs an out/corner route. The tight split is important because it helps hims settle in the gap between the safety and outside CB. When I say "space" there really isn't actually much for Watson to work with. But thanks to his great arm strength, he's able to laser the ball into the tight window and into Fuller's chest. It's got so much velocity that Fuller bobbles it (let's just say that's why ;) ) but brings it down. This helped set the tone of the day, we were coming out hot, and we wouldn't let our foot off the gas.
This next play has become a staple of the Texans offense and this series. I've broken it down so many times but never get sick of seeing it work. We're running our Yankee Concept. The Texans will always run this around mid field, it's getting predictable to be honest. They'll go under center, play action fake, max protect and send DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller on deep crossing routes. Typically Hop's route goes a bit shallower, and Fuller's goes a bit deeper. I'm sure you can understand why. What this concept does is put the deep free safety in a conflict of assignment. Does he come down to help on Hopkins? Or does he stay over top and prevent Fuller from finding the end zone? He SHOULD take Fuller, but he hesitates, being drawn in by Hop. And that split second hesitation is all Fuller needs to blaze past you. The most important part of this is Watson's eyes. From the end zone view you can see how Watson looks to his right at first, following Hopkins. That's why the safety is hesitant and that's what makes this entire play work.
Watson was on point all day long, and his touch on this throw was perfect. Off the play action fake, there's a defender bringing pressure to Deshaun's right. He has to quickly release the ball before Fuller has made his break. Therefore, he needs to put touch on the ball so that it gets there in time. Touch is also needed because of the CB underneath, and the space Fuller has towards the sideline. Watson needs to get the ball over the CB's zone, but just before the sideline so that Fuller can stay in bounds. That's exactly what he does and Fuller prospers.
Late in the game, while the offense was still feeling it, the defense was giving up points. This game should've been over long ago, but Matt Ryan was still trying to claw back into the game. Watson and Fuller had enough, and put them to bed with this play. Fuller runs an out route, but the CB is in good position and is about to jump it, if Watson throws it. Luckily there's an option built into the route to turn it into an out and up. Watson and Fuller are both on the same page and see that he should take that option. This is the beauty and curse of the BOB offense. If both the QB and WR are on the same page, unstoppable plays like these can occur. But if Watson didn't see the out and up, and just threw the out, that's an easy pick six.
That was the nail in the coffin. The offense had done their job. Watson put on one of the best performances in Texans history. Luckily the defense would not choke the win today. Tashaun Gipson would get an INT to really seal the deal, and that was GAME. The duo of Deshaun Watson and Will Fuller consistently puts up video game numbers and I'm really PRAYING that Fuller can stay healthy for a full season.
Week 6: Vs. Kansas City Chiefs
After a huge win vs the Falcons, it was time for a real test. The Chiefs were thought of as an instant loss for us, and as true contenders, they were a perfect test to see where we were at. Deshaun Watson had a bit of a mixed game to be honest. He finished 30/42 for 280 yards, 1 TD but 2 INT and 2 rushing TDs. Let's see what the film says about his performance.
It wouldn't be right if I didn't show this RPO play that we killed the Chiefs with all day. It's honestly a super simple concept, but it takes advantage of slow LBs, like the Chiefs employ. The Texans ran this look all day and the OL creating a push, and making Carlos Hyde a legit threat, opens up the dump off to Fells. Darren doesn't do anything special here, and neither does Deshaun. But these are the "easy" and "open" throws that we've been clamouring for BOB to have in the offense. While I'm not a fan of his, we have to give him credit when he does something right. And just spamming the RPO game all day when the Chiefs had no answer, was a simple, but effective plan. The run fake to the left pulls the LBs away from Fells running to the right flat. Doesn't get much easier than that for Deshaun.
I wanna throw these plays in here really quickly just because this game shouldn't have even been close. While we nickel and dimed with the RPO game to Fells, we should've had a couple deep plays to Fuller, that he just barely dropped. Beautiful throws by Deshaun here, and would've been great to get revenge on the Honey Badger like this.
Here's the second one. Man, I would've gone crazy if these had been completed. I love the counter option that we have for this Yankee concept. You can see how this looks extremely similar to the Yankee concept we ran against the Falcons. The only difference is that Fuller takes his route vertical, instead of continuing on that deep crosser. This is because the Honey Badger (likely knows this play is coming) jumps the deep crosser. He would be in perfect position to break up the ball or get an INT, and Fuller uses his aggressiveness against him.
Now let's look at his rushing touchdown, the biggest takeaway for me is how frustrating this must be for a defense. They play perfect defense, taking away the routes early. But this is what makes the offense so dangerous. Even if you're secondary plays perfect coverage, you still gotta deal with Watson's legs. While he won't do it every play like Lamar Jackson, Watson is deceivingly fast and elusive. He's always a threat to take off and score, and if you've got slow LBs like the Chiefs do, it's gonna be six just like this.
The last play I want to look at is Watson's INT, because you can learn more from your failures than your successes. And this play right here, is a great example of a mistake that should not be repeated. The Texans want to go to Hopkins on the fade in the end zone. You can tell that Watson is locked in on Hop the entire way, never looking in another direction. Hop gets jammed nicely, and isn't open at all. Yet Watson forces up the throw and it gets picked off. Yes, this is a great play by the CB, but it's also just a throw that should've never been made. I can almost guarantee Nuk was calling for the ball to come his way during the huddle. Without Nuk, Watson isn't going to be forcing the ball to his "star" WR anymore. He's going to have the ability to play more free and just find the open man. He's not going to have a diva asking for the ball on every play, or telling him to hold onto the ball and wait for him to get open. And I really think Watson will benefit from that.
Luckily that mistake wouldn't be costly. The Texans, fuelled by a strong run game and timely throws by Watson, would go on to beat the Chiefs. It's crazy to think we beat the Super Bowl Champs, and even crazier to think we were up 24-0 on them, when they had everyone healthy. But I'm getting too ahead of myself. That volume of Watson Watch will come, as much as I don't want to write it.
Week 7: Vs. Indianapolis Colts
After a MASSIVE win vs the Chiefs, the Texans went to Indianapolis with as much confidence as ever before. We've fared awfully at Indy, but after two convincing (yet close) wins, this trip felt different. Deshaun Watson would finish 23/34 for 308 yards, 1 TD and 2 INTs. Not the greatest game statistically, but let's see what the film says about his performance.
After a lackluster first quarter by both teams, the Texans found themselves in the red zone, after Jacoby Brisket fumbled the snap on the Indy 12 yard line. It was 3rd and 4 and as Watson dropped back, he immediately dealt with pressure from his right. With Tytus Howard injured, Watson dealt with a revolving door of Chris Clark, Roderick Johnson and Dan Skipper at RT. Not ideal to say the least. Rod Johnson got smoked and Jabaal Sheard had a clean run at Watson. Yet somehow Watson wouldn't go down on first contact. He wanted that touchdown, and willed himself into throwing one to DeAndre Hopkins. While being held by the ankles and falling down to the ground, it was one of the craziest throws I'd ever seen. But what I saw next hurt even more. The pinstriped zebras waving off the play and saying Watson was down. The whistle was way too early, and robbed Watson of a highlight reel touchdown.
I honestly forgot about that play, but rewatching it just made my blood boil all over again. However, as a player you have to put the past behind and move on, and that's exactly what Deshaun would do. After the Colts scored a touchdown, we needed to respond. Watson led a drive where he would complete a 13 yarder to Keke Coutee, then scramble for 19 yards, then three more straight completions totalling 54 yards. Let's appreciate that 19 yard scramble, and the magic that is Watson's pocket presence and escapability.
Zach Fulton allows pressure right into Watson's face, but he just calmly sidesteps it and continues scanning downfield. Then Nick Martin allows his man to get off his block, and Watson is forced to shrug off the tackle. He continues running, escaping out to the left side of the formation and down field for 19 yards. Even if the coverage is tight, and the pass rush is hot, you can't slow down Watson's legs. The ability to always keep a play alive is ridiculous. A lot of people complain he holds onto the ball to long, but if he checks it down here, the Texans dont get 19 yards. Watson has that ability, so of course he's going to lean on it. We've got to let him do him.
The Texans would unfortunately not finish that drive with six. Over the past two years, we've seen that we just haven't been able to crack the code that is the Colts red zone defense. In the 2019 season we've done better red zone efficiency wise, but the Colts seem to be a different monster. Settling for three is so demoralizing, and the offense just never seemed to fully get in a groove.
That would continue into the 4th quarter, when Deshaun Watson would make one of his rare AWFUL decisions. The Colts initially look like they are in their patented Cover 2. Then Watson notices that CB Pierre Desir follows Hopkins across the field. So when he knows he has Duke Johnson running into the left flat, he thinks he should be wide open. Pressure comes up the middle and Watson fires the ball cross field off his back foot to Duke, before really looking to see if he was open. The result, one of his uglier INTs of his career. In the moment I was like "WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?!" I truly didn't understand what he saw/didn't see. But with the film, I understand it now. If the Colts were in Cover 2 Man/Cover 2 Match, like D4 thought, Duke should've been open. But he was wrong, and paid dearly for it.
Luckily the defense forced a three and out, and gave the ball back to the offense. There was still a chance to come back, but we had to be perfect. Watson would go 4/4 on the drive, that would accumulate with him throwing a 4 yard TD pass to DeAndre Hopkins. Watson would fake the handoff to Duke, but have Coutee, Stills and Hopkins running with him to the right. The Colts cover it well, playing with outside leverage on Hop, but Hop notices that, and just stops his route. Watson sees the same thing and fires it to Hop who's standing all alone in the end zone. Finally a TOUCHDOWN!
The defense got another stop and the comeback was really on. The offense got the ball back with 1:41 left in the 4th. Watson would lead us to mid field, then fire a laser to Coutee, that would've had us in field goal range, with time to get into the end zone. But instead of hauling in the pass, the ball went right off Coutee's fingertips and escaped him. He lost that ball like he lost his last opportunity to succeed with this team. The ball landed in Darius Leonard's hands and that was game.
While a win was certainly in our grasp, it was another trip to Indy that ended in an L, and a demoralizing one at that. It seemed like a game we should've won, Indy didnt do anything special. And while it may not have been a great game out of Watson statistically, he made plays when it mattered and put us in a position to succeed. Gotta move on though and can't hang our heads. The next opponent would be a perfect chance to bounce back.
Week 8: Vs. Oakland Raiders
The Raiders weren't anything to be worried about. Back at home, it was time for the turnaround, and at this point, many noticed a funny trend in our Win/Loss pattern. Loss, Win, Win. Loss to the Saints, Win against the Jags and Chargers. Followed by a Loss to the Panthers, then Wins against the Falcons and Chiefs. A subsequent loss against the Colts, would mean a win today against the Raiders. Right? Right. Watson would finish 27/39 for 279 yards, 3 TDs and 0 INTs. Let's see if the film matches the stats.
After a slow start to the 1st quarter (what's new) the Texans would finally find the end zone, with a minute left in the quarter. They went to trusty Duke Johnson, who found himself with a LB matched up on him. Duke knew that LB was no match for him, and left him in the dust with a nice corner route. Watson found him in stride and we were on the board.
The Texans offense would go on a bit of a cold streak, settling for field goals. It didn't help that they lost LT Laremy Tunsil, and were now sporting Chris Clark and Roderick Johnson as Watson's edge protectors. Luckily Watson's mobility is always a great thing to have. And when the Texans found themselves in the red zone, late in the 3rd quarter, it was Watson's legs that would prove their worth again.
After a fake handoff to Carlos Hyde, Watson sprinted out to the right, as DE (#91) was hot on his trail. He had Akins in the flat, but likely would've been tackled short by a safety. However Darren Fells was already in the end zone, and the defender guarding him was un-disciplined, leaving him to stop the threat of Watson's legs. Watson quickly saw that and fired it on the move, to the wide open Fells for six.
Midway through the 4th quarter everyone watching the game would witness one of the best touchdown throws they had ever seen. Watson dealt with pressure from his left (thanks Chris MF Clark) but somehow spun out of it. Another defender wrapped himself around Watson, like a snake around their prey. Instead of falling to the ground, Watson escaped yet again, but was inadvertently kicked in the eye. He remained determined to score, so he covered his eye with his left hand, and through a DOT to Darren Fells in the end zone. It was a perfectly placed ball, despite being blind. High and away from the near defender, and where only Fells could grab it. It was a miracle.
That was one of the greatest plays I'd ever seen in my life, but also just a daily occurrence for the talented Deshaun Watson. I'm so glad we've finally found our guy, and can enjoy decades of more blind touchdowns and breath taking plays. The Texans would hang on to the lead and after another completion to Darren Fells, Deshaun iced the game in victory formation. It was such a satisfying win, and one that was hard fought, especially with losing leaders like Tunsil and JJ Watt. The Raiders fought hard, and were definitely an underrated team led by Gruden. And if you told me we would only win by 3 before this game started, I would've been a bit upset, but knowing what we went through, I was damn proud of our team. Tune in next week for the next four games of the 2019 season!