Falcon Points

Is Deshaun Watson really OK with the Texans off-season moves?

Deshaun Watson
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images.

Last weekend, Deshaun Watson did his first lengthy media interview since the Texans traded away star receiver DeAndre Hopkins. He said all the right things, and appeared to be at peace with the move. He also said that his representative was talking with the team about a contract extension. The full transcript is below if you want to see his comments and the questions.

The one thing that stood out was his response to being asked about the Hopkins trade and why he had not publicly commented.

"Because that's not my pay [grade]. I can't control that. I feel the way I feel, but it's not my place and time to be able to speak on that because I didn't know the whole background story on what exactly happened. That's their business and that's their lane. I'm not going to step out of my lane and get in that. But I know that me and Hop have a great relationship. I know that me and OB have a great relationship. But that's something that I can't play both sides in. I'm just going to sit in the middle and watch it from afar. That's their business and I'm not going to get into it."

Frankly, it was the best response he could give. Considering some of his cryptic tweets in the wake of the move, it's clear he was not happy with the deal, and nothing he says here changes that. The key phrase is "I feel the way I feel, but it's not my place and time to be able to speak on that."

Clearly he was not happy with the move, and why would he be? It was an awful deal. But he is smart enough to know he can't say that. Whether he signs his extension or not, Watson is here for at least four more years; he is under contract this year and next and can be franchised at least twice. So give him credit for taking the high road. And realistically, he has to play the cards he has been dealt. Saying anything negative could easily come off as being critical of the new additions.

So happy or not, Watson is doing the smart thing and looking ahead, at least publicly, which is the right move. The quarterback needs to take the next step and become truly elite, and that can't happen if there is discord. So credit to Watson for addressing it and moving on. Hopefully Hopkins' loss on the field will be mitigated by improved play from Watson. If so, the Texans will be interesting to watch, especially on the offensive side of the ball. If, of course, they can overcome the coaching staff, but that is a topic for another day.

Here is the complete transcript of the Watson interview, courtesy of Houston Texans PR. He addresses a wide variety of subjects, including his relationship with the organization, new players, his contract, dealing with Covid and much more:

What is it like to come to the stadium and not see WR DeAndre Hopkins? Also, can you talk about the additions of WR Randall Cobb, WR Brandin Cooks and RB David Johnson?

It's definitely a little different because his locker was across for me. This is my fourth year so the last three years I would come in and of course I would have seen him and chopped it up with him and talked to him about the offseason and different things. That's part of the business. It's something that the organization had decided to do, but we got some guys that came in, from Cobb, Cooks, David Johnson – veteran guys who have played a lot of football. They're coming in and ready to work. We definitely have a good addition and we're trying to put all the pieces together and build that chemistry."

What was your reaction to Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes' contract extension? What is the state of a potential contract extension and how are talks going?

"I mean, it was awesome. It was awesome for him to be able to achieve something so big and get what he deserves. I actually texted him that day when the news came out and he texted right back. The friendship and the bond that we have has been great ever since high school, from the Elite 11 to college to all of that. That was definitely dope. My representation and the organization have definitely been talking, but timing is everything. Right now, I'm just focused on football and my team and building this chemistry and building this offense. We're making sure that we're staying safe, but at the same time trying to speed up the process to getting on the same page, so we can be ready for September 10th. That's my main focus. I have an agent that is going to take care of that, but that's not my main focus right now. My main focus is staying healthy and making sure this team is ready to play."

How important is it to get a contract extension done before the season?

"Like I said, football is my main focus. My agent knows the time and the time limit, and things like that. My biggest thing, like I've always been wanting to do since I was a little kid, is just play football, win a championship, win games and compete. Like I said before, my agent is taking care of that and that's with him and the organization. Like I said, my main focus is being the quarterback and the leader of this team and making sure we're ready for September 10th."

Have you had an opportunity to work out with the new offensive additions in the offseason? Also, how difficult has it been to conduct offseason workouts during the summer?

"Yeah, I've worked out with them a couple of times over the summer. We've kind of been making sure that we're picking the right time to work out and doing the right things and taking the precautions that we need to make sure everyone is staying safe. Everyone has a family. They have kids and a wife. So, making sure they're staying safe, that their wife and the kids are on the same page of what we're doing and what we're working out and who we've been around and checking temperature and things like that, and staying sanitized. It's been good the times we've been working out, but it's also been difficult and kind of nerve-wracking because we haven't been able to work out as much as we've wanted to. At the same time, we've been FaceTiming, texting, doing a lot of mental work so whenever they came in, they were ready and prepared."

What do you need to see from the Texans organization to want to commit to a long-term contract extension?

"I'm here. I love this organization. I love the McNair family. I love the coaching staff. I love the coaches. I love the players. I love the city. I love the fanbase. Right now, my main focus is continuing to be a Houston Texan and making sure that I'm bringing everything I can and doing everything I can to bring this city and this organization its first championship. So, that's my main focus. Right now, I'm a Houston Texan and the future is going to tell itself but I'm locked in on being a Texan."

What are some personal things you would like to improve on this season?

"Just being very detailed in my craft. Not making those little errors, mistakes. Of course, protecting the ball and making sure everyone is on the same page. Really just coming down to the end of the game situations. I know I was pretty decent at it last year but I want to be perfect and I want to be able to win those close games. I want to be able to close out those games against New Orleans and against a couple of other teams that we came up short against in the fourth quarter, especially against those with great quarterbacks. I want to be able to focus on that, build a craft and be able to get us in the perfect play each and every time. Even though that's hard and it's kind of impossible to do, but I feel like it's possible. Just kind of focused on that."

What is WR Will Fuller V capable of this season, especially if he's able to stay healthy all year?

"Will's going to ball out. Will's going to be one of the best receivers in the league. He came back a lot stronger, a lot faster. Will's really good, very confident in himself and what he did over the offseason. I'm very confident in what he can do. We all are as an organization and as a team. There's no doubt that Will can take that role and do great things with it."

When did you find out WR DeAndre Hopkins was traded and what was your reaction?

"I found out after a workout. It was just of course out of the blue – different. I wasn't expecting it, but like I said, that's just the way the business goes. That's something that I have pretty much no control of. The organization had to do what they had to do, and D-Hop – he had to do what he had to do. We still have a relationship, we still have a bond, but it was just different of course."

What do you see as your leadership role within the organization and important will that be for the rookies?

"It's definitely big, especially the rookies. That's going to play a big role in helping this team win games and making sure that we all bring them along. I feel like this team that we have – since I've been in this organization, this is the most veterans we've had. They've played a lot of football. A lot of rookies get to see a lot of different people, especially in different positions. Being the quarterback, it's kind of hard to be able to touch rookies on defense, receivers, o-line. But we have a lot of guys that have played a lot of football that they can look up to them and watch them and take a lot of mental reps whenever their time comes so they can perform."

What is your comfort level with the COVID-19 protocols the NFL and the Texans have implemented?

"At first it was just, of course, a lot of different stories coming out about the protocol and things like that. I feel like safety and health is always first. We all want to play football. We all want to do the right things, but at the same time we have to make sure because we're going home to our families and people that might have a health condition or might have some type of problem. For us, to be able to come in and take the precautions and do the right things is very important. I know that this organization from when I came in have changed everything and put in the right safety precautions – the sanitizing to the locker room to the way we manage things. The first couple days of camp have been great and what we've seen has been a big change. We're going in the right direction, especially for this organization."

This is the first season since 2011 that the Texans have had their entire starting offensive line return. How important is it to have all five starters returning?

"Yeah, I feel like having that group and that chemistry back is going to be great. I know if you look back over a couple of years, and especially last year when we had our starting five o-line, we've been very, very dominant and we've been very successful when all five of those guys are playing at the same time. If we can keep those guys healthy through a full season and build that chemistry – I mean, those guys look really, really good. They've been working out with each other, they've been talking with each other. You can just see it through the locker room, throughout the building how they just move as a unit and how they move as a group. Everywhere one person goes, everyone goes. You love to see that. For them to be able to do what they have to do to make sure that we're being successful as a unit, as a whole, is very confident in the coaching staff and myself."

Do you see any notable differences with Offensive Coordinator / Quarterbacks Coach Tim Kelly as a play-caller in comparison to Head Coach and General Manager Bill O'Brien? Also, will you have the same freedom under him as you did under Coach O'Brien?

"I had a lot of freedom with Coach O'Brien, too. He gave me a lot of freedom and we talked a lot of times, but being the head coach and the OC, there were times where we couldn't meet as much as we wanted to. But I feel like with Tim, I get to see Tim and that's the only person that I'm meeting with, besides T.J. Yates. Being able to have that everyday conversation, every meeting conversation with Tim, and being on the same page and seeing eye-to-eye definitely is going to take us a long way. Tim has been doing a great job of putting together different game plans and scripts and making sure that I'm prepared for each and every game. I can tell that he wants to take that to a whole other level. With us starting camp and the meetings and the conversations and the leeway he's throwing out there whenever we step on the field, has been great."

Can you talk about how safe you feel in the stadium and your role in making sure the players know to be safe away from the stadium? Also, what is different now about how you all go through your day?

"The way the schedules are set up for us to be socially distanced – I think it's like 79, 80 players, so that's a lot of people in one spot at one time. But for us to be able to take those right precautions we have to make sure that we're following the schedule. They've put out a great plan in making sure that we're staying sanitized to everyone having their own towels, to two lockers, to making sure everything is kind of your personal item. For us to be able to have that has been great. Then just the leadership of making sure that everyone is following the precautions outside is very important, too. I feel like that's the most important because everyone goes about their own lives around different people and you don't know where those people have been at or you don't know who that person has come in contact with. Making sure that we do that so we can come in and keep a healthy team and keep a healthy locker room, that's the biggest thing."

Why was it so important for you to not publicly comment on the WR DeAndre Hopkins trade and trust that Head Coach and General Manager Bill O'Brien was doing the right thing for the organization?

"Because that's not my pay [grade]. I can't control that. I feel the way I feel, but it's not my place and time to be able to speak on that because I didn't know the whole background story on what exactly happened. That's their business and that's their lane. I'm not going to step out of my lane and get in that. But I know that me and Hop have a great relationship. I know that me and OB have a great relationship. But that's something that I can't play both sides in. I'm just going to sit in the middle and watch it from afar. That's their business and I'm not going to get into it."

What have you seen from T Laremy Tunsil and how much better do you think he can play now that he is healthy and in his second season?

"That's the thing, just the way that he came in, it was just so fast. Everything, especially with this offense, especially playing that position. Being the left tackle of a very, very complex offense where you have to think, you have to be able to maneuver and be able to switch on the fly. For him to come in and do what he did last year and be successful and be a Pro Bowl left tackle. But this offseason having a full season to know the whole package to know the whole offense and see him work and see him get healthy – it's been incredible. We've built that chemistry off the field as more than just being a teammate, as a brother. I know he's going to have another, even better season this year."

How important and special is the partnership with Texas Southern University?

"It's always good to be able to support the community that you stay in, that you live in and call home. For them to be able to let us use their facilities, especially during times like this and be able to trust us and take the right precautions and things like that, it was awesome. They've been great at supporting us and making sure that were staying safe and having security around and sanitized and things like that. We just wanted to be able to support them and make sure that we're behind them as they are behind us."

With so many new pieces on offense and a new playcaller, do you think you can you be sharp when the season begins?

"I feel like by the time Kansas City rolls around, we're going to be sharp. We're going to be detailed and we're going to look very efficient. For us, that's why we have a veteran team, a lot of guys have played a lot of football that can pick up an offense and know the game and know the schemes. We're doing a lot of meetings at the stadium, a lot of Zoom calls and a lot of FaceTime calls where those new guys that just came in are getting adjusted and they're getting adjusted very fast. They've been looking very, very good since we've reported. Me and Tim (Kelly) have been on the same page, so that won't be any different. It's my job of being a leader and being the coach on the field to make sure that everyone else around us is doing the right things the way we want to do it and the way I want it to kind of happen on the field. With me and Tim being on the same page and me communicating that to all of the new guys, it's been good."

Can you talk about building the chemistry with WR Brandin Cooks through offseason workouts? Also, what are you most excited about when playing alongside him this season?

"That chemistry came natural. Since we signed him and got him, we definitely kind of built that chemistry. We've been talking ever since. Working out with him has been good. He's just a great person. His family is awesome, amazing. A guy that you just want to be around. He's seen so much football, been around so many people. He's played with Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Jared Goff, so he's seen a lot of different quarterbacks in a lot of different ways. He's giving me knowledge on what he's learned from different people and he's learning from me, which is awesome, which is amazing, especially a guy that has played a lot of football. We just kind of built that and it's been good."

Can you talk about RB David Johnson and RB Duke Johnson as receivers and what type of mismatches they can create when on the field at the same time?

"They can create so much, you have to respect that. Not just running the ball, so you have to respect, is it going to be a pass or is it going to be a run? With both of those guys on the field you don't know who's going to touch the ball. We can do so many different things, especially with David coming in with his size and speed. Then you have Duke, his coming out of the backfield and his ability and agility and ability to move, and things like that. It's been good to be able to have two guys like that. I've never had that in my career, so it's going to be fun to be able to play with both of them and see what we can do."

How do you think potentially playing in front of no fans will affect your ability to do your job and what the defense can hear?

"It won't affect me. That's not my concern. When I'm on the field, I'm already in my zone and kind of blank it out anyway, even if it's crowd noise or if it's not. For me, I just want to compete. I just want to lock in and have zoom focus on what I do. Of course, yeah, if there are no fans, they can hear us. But at the end of the day you still have to contain and stop us. That's the mentality and that goes for anybody across the league, for myself and any other offense. They're going to feel the same way. You can hear what we're saying, but at the end of the day you have to stop us. You have to stop the guys that are running the routes and the quarterbacks that are making the decisions. For me personally, I don't think it's going to affect the way I play and the game that we're playing. For any other quarterback around the league, I bet they feel the same way."

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