WEIGHING THE PROS AND CONS

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

Texans Deshaun Watson
Watson is putting up big numbers. Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images.
Deshaun Watson's mentor on the Texans being better without Hopkins

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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These uniforms have to go. Photo via: Wiki Commons.

Major League Baseball will consider going back to having players wear their team uniforms for the All-Star Game.

Club uniforms were used by the American League from 1933-2019 and by the National League from 1934-2019. When the game resumed in 2021 following the pandemic-related cancellation in 2020, MLB had started a uniform contract with Nike and Fanatics, and All-Stars were outfitted in specially designed league uniforms that drew criticism from traditionalists.

Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images.

This year's AL uniforms had a sandy base with red sleeves and lettering and the NL had a navy base with light blue sleeves and lettering.

“I’m aware of the sentiment on this issue,” Manfred told the Baseball Writers' Association of America on Tuesday. "I think where my head is on it, it’s something we’re going to have a conversation about coming out of the All-Star Game. We've got a lot of uniform things going on. And, obviously, the conversations have to involve the players first and foremost but Nike, some of our partners. But I am aware of the sentiment, and I do know why people kind of like that tradition."

MLB and Nike were criticized for club uniforms this year and said in May that 2025 club outfits will have larger lettering on the back of jerseys and individual pant customization. Players complained this year that white pants worn by some teams are see-through enough to show tucked-in jersey tops.

Regional sports networks

Manfred said a national steaming package of local television broadcasts is a future possibility.

“I could see a situation where we grow into a 30-club model. It might start on the digital side, where you have 14 or 15 clubs, and, you start with a digital product there as your first alternative,” he said.

“I was in Sun Valley last week and I did the whole speed-dating thing with everybody who’s ever streamed anything. When you talk to people in the streaming business, they’re not really interested in buying the state of Wisconsin and two counties in Michigan," Manfred added. "They want to be able to stream quite frankly, all over the U.S. and Canada but more broadly internationally. So I think those conversations are a product of owners saying, holy cow, the RSN business is really deteriorating. We know the future’s going to be streaming. What we’re hearing from the streamers is they want a more national product, and we need to be responsive to what people want to buy.”

MLB took over production of Arizona and San Diego local television broadcasts last year following the bankruptcy of Diamond Sports’ Bally networks and said MLB will be available as an option for teams looking for new deals. He said Padres game are approaching 40,000 subscribers, which he called a good figure.

“Having said that, from a revenue perspective it is not generating what the RSNs did," Manfred said. "The RSNs were a great business. Lots of people paid for programing they didn’t necessarily want. And it’s hard to replicate that kind of revenue absent that kind of bundling concept.”

Offense

While offense is near half-century lows, it has picked up from early in the season.

“The decline in offense is something that we’re paying a lot of attention to and we’ll continue to monitor to make a decision as to whether we think we need to do something. You do hear a lot of chatter about the dominance of pitching in the game. That’s absolutely true.”

Birmingham

After the success of the June 20 game between San Francisco and St. Louis at Rickwood Field, Manfred said MLB will return to the ballpark in Birmingham, Alabama, but the “exact form” had not been determined.

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