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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Yordan Alvarez's homer in Wednesday's game gave him 100 RBI on the season. Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Winners of three straight, six of their last seven, and eight of their last ten, the Astros had the chance to move yet another game closer to clinching their playoff spot if they could secure the series with a win against the Angels on Wednesday. Even though it looked as though they were headed towards a loss in extra innings, they would ultimately come out ahead.

Final Score (12 innings): Astros 9, Angels 5

Astros' Record: 91-61, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Yimi Garcia (4-9)

Losing Pitcher: Sam Selman (0-1)

Garcia goes six shutout innings

Although he didn't have swing-and-miss dominance in this start, Luis Garcia could still capitalize on a struggling Angels offense and post a shutout quality start against them. He allowed three walks and three hits throughout his outing but stranded all of them while getting outs on balls in play. His final line: 6.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 79 P.

Alvarez reaches 100 RBI as Houston's offense keeps rolling

That performance had Garcia in line for the win, as two homers handed him a 3-0 advantage which he held. Houston once again used early offense to take a first-inning lead, as a leadoff walk by Jose Altuve turned into a monster 456-foot by Yordan Alvarez, pushing him to 100 RBI on the season. The score held at 2-0 until the top of the fifth, when Jason Castro led that frame off with a solo homer to extend the lead to three runs.

Extras in Anaheim

Phil Maton was first out of Houston's bullpen in the bottom of the seventh, but a single, double, and walk loaded the bases with no outs to put him in a jam. A lineout kept the runners put for the first out, but a single and a walk would make it a one-run game and left the bases loaded as Maton would get pulled.

Kendall Graveman entered to try and stop the bleeding, but after a force out at home to put that within reach, Jack Mayfield came through for Los Angeles with a go-ahead three-run double, giving the Angels their first lead of the series at 5-3. In the top of the eighth, a walk by Alex Bregman brought Alvarez back to the plate, and he would nearly miss a game-tying homer and instead got an RBI-single to make it 5-4.

Alvarez would still come in to tie the game, hustling home from second on an RBI single by Yuli Gurriel to knot things up 5-5. Brooks Raley was Houston's next reliever, and he sat down LA in order with two strikeouts. Still tied in the bottom of the ninth, Ryan Pressly came in to force extras, and despite being shadowed by the winning run on the bases after a leadoff single, retired the next three batters to send the game to the tenth.

Astros keep battling and take it in the twelfth

Jake Meyers took second base as Houston's free runner in the top of the tenth, but he would go nowhere as the Astros went down in order, giving the Angels another chance at a walk-off. Instead of giving Shohei Ohtani a free pass immediately, Houston would let Blake Taylor throw two balls to him before giving him the intentional walk.

Taylor then gave up a single to load the bases with no outs, and after getting a force out at home for the first out, Yimi Garcia would replace him. Thanks to a great play by Chas McCormick, giving him multiple in the game, the Astros would live to see another inning as he would make a great catch in right field and then throw out Ohtani at home.

In the top of the eleventh, a sac fly by Yuli Gurriel moved Aledmys Diaz to third, but that's as close as Houston would come, leaving them stuck at five runs. After Garcia retired three more batters in the bottom of the eleventh, the game moved to the twelfth, where Houston would get back in front on an RBI single by Jake Meyers, then padded the new lead on a two-RBI double by Jose Altuve, who would also score on a sac fly by Alex Bregman, making it 9-5. Josh James came in and wrapped things up in the bottom half as Houston secured the series victory and reduced their magic number to two against Oakland and three against Seattle.

Up Next: The finale of this four-game series, and the last time these two teams will meet this year, will be an 8:38 PM Central start on Thursday. The expected pitching matchup is Alex Cobb (8-3, 3.59 ERA) for Los Angeles and Lance McCullers Jr. (12-4, 3.11 ERA) for Houston.

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