WEIGHING THE PROS AND CONS
How Deshaun Watson is quickly drawing parallels to this Hall of Fame QB
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.