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:

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