WEIGHING THE PROS AND CONS

How Deshaun Watson is quickly drawing parallels to this Hall of Fame QB

Watson is putting up big numbers. Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images.

From an 0-4 start that resulted in the jettison of Bill O'Brien to allowing two running backs to rush for over 100 yards each in their previous loss to the Cleveland Browns, the 2020 season has been tumultuous for the Houston Texans.

Entering Sunday's home match against the 4-5 New England Patriots, the Texans are sitting with a 2-7 record as the most disappointing team in the league. Even with the untimely departure of DeAndre Hopkins, the general belief was that the Texans were at least a wild card playoff team — at their very best. Instead, Houston proved to be an impoverished franchise who cannot capitalize on their subpar season in next year's NFL Draft.

In the midst of the Texans' disastrous year has been the play of Deshaun Watson. The 25-year-old quarterback is having his best season to date. Watson is on pace to set a career-high in passing yards (2,539) and touchdowns (18) while posting a 70.6 QBR. On the field, Watson looks sharper going through his reads to avoid the multiple unnecessary hits by getting rid of the ball quicker than in his first three seasons.

Watson's performance should have him in the mix of this year's MVP race. His stats are nearly equal to or better than the likes of Kyler Murray, Tom Brady and Josh Allen — who are all dark horses to take home the award via CBS Sports.

But to be considered an MVP, one must be on a winning team, which is clearly not the case for Watson. His spectacular 2020 season has interim head coach Romeo Crennel comparing Watson to the NFL legend, Dan Marino.

"There's a guy named Dan Marino who was a pretty [good] quarterback, and they say that he didn't win the way he wanted to win," Crennel said. "It takes more than one guy. That's what I tell these guys all the time. One guy cannot be the team. Deshaun, as good as he is for us, he cannot be the team. It takes all the guys on the team and on the other side of the ball, as well. When everybody does well, then the team can do well."

After the Miami Dolphins took him with their No. 27 pick in the first round of the 1983 draft, Marino played his entire 17-year career in South Beach. He became a nine-time Pro-Bowler and won league MVP honors in 1984. Similar to Watson, Marino's talent alone gave the Dolphins a chance to win each time he stepped onto the field, but the team's subpar roster resulted in the Dolphins never reaching the promised land with their Hall-Of-Fame quarterback.

Miami qualified for the playoffs in 10 of Marino's 17 seasons and succumbed to the San Francisco 49ers during his lone Super Bowl appearance in 1985.

By the time he retired after the 1999 season, Marino became one of sports' most legendary athletes to never win a championship title. He ended his career with several NFL records throwing for a then league all-time best 61,361 yards and 420 touchdown passes.

Crennel's statement on Watson came a day after the Texans survived a 27-25 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars. In the win, Watson completed 19-of-32 pass attempts for 281 yards and two touchdowns, which included a 77-yard touchdown pass to Will Fuller.

With seven games remaining, there is not enough time for the Texans to salvage Watson's 2020 season. But with a vacant general manager position, it is important for ownership to salvage his career by hiring the right personnel, someone who can build a respectful roster around Houston's franchise quarterback.

The lack of talent that plagued Marino's Hall-Of-Fame career is starting to show in Watson. Hopefully, the Texans can learn from the Dolphins' mistake to avoid the same consequences twenty years later.

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Keep an eye on Alex Bowman this weekend. Image via: Wiki Commons.

For the first time since July 1984, NASCAR returns to one of its most popular cities in Nashville, Tennessee for the inaugural Ally 400 at Nashville Super Speedway. This track is a 1 1/3rd mile concrete oval that was dormant for nearly ten years and was only used as a testing facility. So it came as a bit of a surprise last season when it was announced that this track would be getting a date. For a lot of drivers, this will be a brand new racetrack, but we will see practice and qualifying, so that will be a huge help for the newcomers that haven't raced here before. Back when the Xfinity and Trucks ran here, this track featured a lot of first time winners. Back in 2008, future NASCAR champion Brad Keselowski shocked the world by jumping in Dale Jr's car and capturing his first win here. There will be a lot of veterans like Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick who have plenty of experience at this track, but it will be tough to compare. It should be fun with everyone coming into this race with minimal knowledge.

Last week, Kyle Larson continued his hot streak by winning the All-Star Race. Overall, while Larson and his Hendrick teammates probably enjoyed the race, the feedback from crews and fans was less than positive. As I was walking through the garage area and talking to a few crew members, a lot of them were very critical of the 450 horsepower motor and the tall spoiler to try and keep the cars bunched up. When I asked one of the crew-members what he thought about the package he told me, "Oh it's awful. The track is terrible, the package makes it impossible to pass and it's super hot out here." On green flag runs, it was the same as it ever was as the lead car would pretty much take off and the only time there was really any "pack racing" it came after there were restarts. The whole race was well-intentioned and the fans showed up as it was nearly a capacity crowd, but the whole thing just didn't make any sense. From the start time being in the nearly 100 degree heat to the wacky full-field invert at the end of each stage. Let's hope that next season's All-Star Race is a lot more concise.

In Silly Season news this week, Truck Series regulars GMS racing announced that they would be fielding a full-time cup series team. The team is currently owned by Allegiant Airlines CEO Maurice Gallagher and his son, Spencer, who used to drive for them in the Xfinity Series. This move seemed to come from out of nowhere as there was never any indication that this was a move they were exploring anytime soon after they turned down the opportunity to purchase Furniture Row Racing in 2019. This is certainly a great sight for the sport as there will be more new teams on the track and with their close relationship with Chevy, it wouldn't be a surprise if they step in and help this team become competitive. The favorite to drive their car has to be 2020 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Sheldon Creed. He has easily been their best driver in trucks, and it would make the most sense for him to get the promotion.

This week at Nashville, the driver that I have winning is Alex Bowman. Now while this is a brand new racetrack and he has a grand total of zero starts here, this track suits his driving style perfectly. With the inclusion of this track, there are now four tracks with a concrete surface. Nashville, Bristol, Dover and Martinsville. At the three of the tracks they have run at, he has shown a lot of speed, including a victory at Dover this season and a top ten finish at Bristol. This is also a track where crew-chief Greg Ives said Bowman has gravitated towards during testing. In an interview with Sirius XM Ives was quoted as saying "we used to have a lot of fun testing there," so this is clearly a track that they both enjoy going to. Another big factor going into Sunday will be just how fast these Hendrick Motorsports cars are, they have finished 1-2 over the last four points races. He has watched his teammates Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott have immense success, and now this week I think he is due for a third win of the season. Look for the bright purple #48 Chevy to go to victory lane this week at Nashville.

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