I am running out of time a little bit this weekend, but with the injury curse hitting the Houston Texans and me planning to take a look at their offence versus the Seattle Seahawks defence – I thought I would look at the good and bad of Deshaun Watson whilst I still could this season.
To do this I’ve picked two plays from the first and second quarters which represent the pass that stood out to me, the interception, Watson’s longest run and the sack that lost the most yards.
The first of these plays was a fifty-nine yard touchdown pass to Will Fuller. In a way this is a simple play. The Texans lined up in 11 personel, with tight end Ryan Griffin initially lined up wide left and then motioning back onto the line whilst Deshaun Watson is stood back from the play to complete the shotgun formation. The Texans then run a simple play action pass, with the fake being enough to hold Seahawks safety Earl Thomas at his starting position for long enough that he is not able to turn and get over to a streaking Fuller to stop him catching the ball behind the defence and scoring a touchdown. The impressive thing about Watson on this play is that Dwight Freeney is coming off the right side of the defence and it is running back Lamar Miller who has to block him. This is not an easy assignment and Fuller can only shove Freeney to delay the rush, but whilst keeping his eyes downfield Watson shuffles in the pocket to avoid the rush and then throws a deep ball over the defence for Fuller to get under and catch falling into the end-zone.
If that was the good, the equalising touchdown for the Seahawks was an interception thrown by Watson on his next series demonstrates some of his youthfulness. Again the Texans lined up with 11 personnel in a shotgun formation, this time on third and ten, with Watson executing a straight drop and throwing an interception. Watson does look right before locking onto Deandre Hopkins coming across the field from the left and throwing the ball, but Earl Thomas simply sits in his starting position watching Watson and jumps the route to intercept the ball and takes it back for a touchdown. I have no way of knowing what Watson’s read should be for this play, but given that Earl Thomas is one of the league’s best safeties, I have to imagine that accounting for him should be part of this and this will be a pass Watson would love to have back..
The run that I want to talk about demonstrates the danger of an athletic quarterback. The Texans are lined up with 11 personnel again, still with Watson in a shotgun position but with Lamar Miller lined up to the left of Watson and further back while Ryan Griffin lined up as full back to the left and further forward of Watson. This is another play action play, but this time defensive tackle Nazair Jones gets good pressure while being held up by right tackle Breno Giacomini, but the pair are very close to Watson when he looks up from the play action hand off. Watson evades the pressure and having seen that Kam Chancellor and both linebackers of the Seahawks have dropped back into zones leaving plenty of space in front of him; Watson takes off and runs for a first down before he has to slide – a very safe way for Watson to pick up eighteen yards.
Towards the end of the second half on second and eight with fifty-two seconds left on the clock, the Texans line up in shotgun with an empty backfield. I am pretty certain they are in 11 personnel with Ryan Griffin lined up to the right of the line, and running back Alfred Blue lined up wide right, but it is hard to make out Blue’s number to be certain. What is clear is that the Seahawks are lined up in a nickel with corner Justin Coleman looking into the backfield from the right side of the defence. Coleman is lined up in a press position opposite the Texans’ stacked receivers on the left hand side of their formation, but when the ball is snapped Coleman immediately rushes the passer and does not get picked up at all. Coleman rushing from the right and Michael Bennett who lined up as left end meet as they sack Deshaun Watson. In this play Watson starts of looking right, and doesn’t sense Coleman’s pressure until it is too late for him avoid the sack.
So what do I make of this overall? There is a huge amount of potential in Deshaun Watson, and whilst his interceptions ultimately cost the Texans the game, without his play they would never have been in the game and how many rookie quarterbacks could throw for over four hundred yards against the Seahawks’ defence in Seattle. Yes Watson is athletic, but the pocket movement on the touchdown to Fuller is as exciting as the long run play. The injury is yet another frustrating one for a league that seems beset by them to franchise players, and it really sucks to have the rookie season of an exciting prospect cut short like this. However, it does seem like the Texans have a quarterback they can develop and I’m sure everyone will be excited about him next season.