BALDY'S BREAKDOWN

Brian Baldinger: The evolution of Deshaun Watson starts with this new key offensive element

Image via: NFL YouTube/Screenshot. Composite image by Jack Brame.

The Houston Texans are going to play a season without DeAndre Hopkins for the first time since 2012. Hopkins, considered by many to the best wide receiver in the league, was traded to the Arizona Cardinals in a deal that still enrages Texans fans and will continue to do so for a long time. How will life without DeAndre Hopkins impact the production of quarterback Deshaun Watson as the young signal-caller enters his fourth season in the league? NFL Network analyst Brian Baldinger recently watched game film with Watson and Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner for season three of Game Film which airs every Saturday at 7:00 on the NFL Network and Baldinger believes that Watson will be able to adapt his game without Hopkins.

"Look - DeAndre was his go-to guy," Brian Baldinger said on The Jake Asman Show on Gow Media's SB Nation Radio. "He had 150 targets last year, third down, fourth down if you need a play, the ball was going to DeAndre, but he's going to have a lot more speed on the field this year. If you look at Brandin Cooks, Kenny Stills, Will Fuller, and even a slot receiver like Randall Cobb that he's never really had before. Speed is going to be the thing."

Can the potential speed that general manager and head coach Bill O'Brien added help make up for the production that Hopkins would account for?

"When teams really tried to take DeAndre Hopkins out it was really easy for Deshaun to decipher that and know where to go with the ball," Baldinger said. "Speed can open up things, it can take the top off defenses, it can keep the safeties deep. It is going to be a different way and I think he will adjust. At first yes, he will miss that safety blanket that DeAndre was but I think as he gets to build some timing with Cooks and with all three receivers together provided that they can stay healthy, I think you'll see a guy that is going to be able to adjust and still play at a high level."

When Baldinger got to sit down with Watson and breakdown film with him, he knew right away what makes Watson such a dynamic young quarterback: his brain.

"When Deshaun Watson came in the room to do the film session with Kurt Warner and me, he changed the room, he just has a presence about him," Baldinger said. "You can feel it. He really explains what he sees. He really sees the field well. He really knows how teams are trying to play him because they play him differently than they do other quarterbacks in that division. He sees it pretty quickly. He's a very difficult guy to trick or disguise things against. He sees what you are doing and knows how to beat it."

You can listen to The Jake Asman Show weekdays from 8 AM-10 AM Central on SB Nation Radio.

You can listen to the full interview with Brian Baldinger below:

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

Houston loses in San Francisco

Astros drop back-and-forth middle game to Giants to even series

Houston's offense couldn't keep up with the Giants on Saturday. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images.

With the impressive win in the opener to start the series, the Astros entered Saturday's middle game against the Giants with an opportunity to not just secure the series but surpass San Francisco for the best record in the league. They'd have to wait to take that crown, as the Giants would out-slug the Astros to even the series.

Final Score: Giants 8, Astros 6

Astros' Record: 64-41, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jay Jackson (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Blake Taylor (2-3)

Teams trade blows early, Giants chase Greinke out early

The teams traded blows early in this one, with the Giants tagging Zack Greinke with six runs, all on homers. The first was a solo shot in the bottom of the second to start the scoring before hitting one in each inning through the fourth: two-run blasts in the third and fourth, then a go-ahead solo shot in the bottom of the fifth, putting them ahead 6-5 at the time. Greinke would face one more batter, allowing a single to end his lackluster day: 4.0 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 4 HR, 93 P.

Houston's offense kept things close to try and keep Greinke in a position to win, going up 3-1 in the third on a two-run Aledmys Diaz homer and another coming in on an error. After San Francisco scored four unanswered to make it 5-3, Diaz homered again in the top of the fifth to cut the deficit to one run before Yuli Gurriel would tie it with an RBI double.

Astros stay in it, but Giants even the series by winning the slug-fest

With Greinke exiting with no outs in the fifth, Houston handed the ball to Phil Maton, acquired in the recent Myles Straw trade, to make his debut for his new team. He worked himself into a jam, allowing a single and hitting a batter to load the bases with one out, but was able to get back-to-back strikeouts to strike out the side and strand all three runners, keeping it a one-run game.

That proved pivotal in the top of the sixth, as with two outs, Martin Maldonado would launch a game-tying solo homer, making it 6-6. Blake Taylor took over out of the bullpen in the bottom of the inning but would face just three batters, getting two outs while leaving one on as Dusty Baker moved on to Cristian Javier. Javier would watch the Giants retake the lead, getting back-to-back singles to bring in a run and make it 7-6.

Javier stayed in the game in the bottom of the seventh, allowing a leadoff single but erasing it by striking out the next three batters. Still a 7-6 game in the bottom of the eighth, Yimi Garcia made his Astros debut but did not keep the score there, allowing a leadoff solo homer to make it a two-run game. The 8-6 score would go final as Houston's offense came up empty again in the top of the ninth, setting up a rubber game in the finale.

Up Next: The series finale will get underway at 3:05 PM Central on Sunday in San Francisco. Luis Garcia (7-5, 3.19 ERA) will take the mound for Houston, going opposite Logan Webb (4-3, 3.36 ERA) for the Giants.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome