Every-Thing Sports

Jermaine Every: For Texans, all hope lies in Deshaun Watson

Deshaun Watson will be the No. 1 key for the Texans. Tim Warner/Getty Images

The Texans have mired in mediocrity for nearly all of their existence. Seeing guys like Andre Johnson and Arian Foster pass through on Kirby without much success had left the franchise with flashes of brilliance. Sure, J.J. Watt is still active and one of the team’s all-time greats, but he’s basically missed the last two years because of season-ending injuries. His star has lost some luster and is threatened to be overshadowed by Jadeveon Clowney.

With the exception of about three good years of the Matt Schaub era, there’s been a lot of average to below average play at the quarterback position. David Carr was supposed to ride in on his white horse to help the franchise to start. He was failed by shoddy talent around him, specifically on the offensive line. Heck, Schaub himself was traded for with the specific purpose in mind to run Gary Kubiak’s offense. He ended up falling apart, only to become a caricature of a franchise quarterback.

When the Texans made the move to draft Deshaun Watson, fans were elated. They beamed with hope, optimism, and there was a general feeling of euphoria. FINALLY, there’s a true franchise quarterback whom the fans have faith in to take the team to the Promised Land. In six games last season, he showed the type of youthful exhuberance, leadership, combined with a flair for the dramatic and skill that made fans forget about the previous years of futility at the position.

And then the bottom fell out. Watson tore his ACL and missed the rest of the season. Despite going 3-3 in his six starts, mainly due to an inept defense, there was hope abounding. Going 1-8 sans Watson left the team at a paltry 4-12. With no first or second round draft picks in the ensuing draft, fielding a much better team seemed pretty bleak. Yet, the team made good use of the cap space they have and drafted well.

When the over/under win total came in at nine and a half, I was curious as to why. How could a team perform so badly the previous season, still have a ton of questions, filled the holes they had with OK to average players, and have so many key players returning from injury be listed at a nine and a half?

Because Watson. That’s why. They’re going to play a last place schedule for starters. Also, playing the NFC and AFC East (minus the Eagles and Patriots respectively) should help the win total. But even the odds makers in Vegas know the power of Watson.

Raheel Ramzanali pointed it out on the John and Raheel Show yesterday that when you see reasons for the Texans’ successes or failures next season, Watson is universally listed as the main cog in either wheel of the debate. “The Texans will lose eight plus games this year because Watson won’t be able to perform like he did last year.” “The Texans will win 10-plus games this year because Watson is going to start the season and be healthy.”

This year will prove to be pivotal in Waton’s career arc. There’s always a stigma of the sophomore jinx when it comes to NFL players, especially quarterbacks. Dak Prescott took a step back, but that could be contributed to declining offensive line play and missing Ezekiel Elliott for six games. Carson Wentz actually got better and was a league MVP candidate until he got hurt.

The second year for a quarterback can go either way. Watson will have a full offseason as “the guy.” Bill O’Brien has recently come out to say he will be ready to play by the time training camp starts because he’s ahead of rehab schedule. Fans of the team, and some media members, are putting a ton of faith in the youngster. I see no reason why they shouldn’t as I fully expect him to continue trending upward and improve upon what he did last season by leading the team to a .500 or better record this season.


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Keep an eye on Tank Dell this Sunday. Photo by Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images.

I remember thinking how in the world can these little frail guys survive at the NFL level? I mean, I saw Joe Theismann and Ed McCaffrey's legs snap. Drew Bledsoe got his chest caved in. Seeing 300-plus pound men cry when injured is humbling. So when a guy like Tank Dell comes along, I'm always a bit apprehensive. Especially when they come with a ton of hype.

For every eight to ten big strong players that get hurt, there's one or two little fellas that have relatively healthy careers. The comp that came to mind when looking at Tank was DeSean Jackson. Listed at 5'10 and weighing a heavy 175 pounds, Jackson was arguably the best “small guy” in NFL history. Dell being about two inches shorter and about ten pounds lighter, while also playing a similar role, is in line to be a similarly electrifying type of player. I put my assessment on the line and doubled down with my predictions on what his, and others' season totals will look like last week:

Tank Dell: 68 catches, 1,105 yards and 6 touchdowns- Dell will be a really good slot, but has some outside skills. Namely, his speed. He's more slippery than if Mick had greased that chicken before Rocky tried catching it. I could see his production going up as the season gets longer because Stroud will begin to look for him more and more as they build chemistry. Yes, I know I only have him with six scores. Keep in mind this is a run first offense. At least that's what we can deduce from looking at where it came from in San Francisco.

In his debut game last week vs the Ravens, he notched three catches for 34 yards on four targets. He was tied for third on the team in targets with Noah Brown and Mike Boone. While Robert Woods and Nico Collins were one and two in targets last week, I think Dell will ascend that list starting this week. Word came down that Noah Brown is headed to IR, meaning he'll miss at least the next four weeks. The chemistry he and fellow rookie C.J. Stroud have developed is palpable. From working out together, to attending UH games together, these two seem to have a nice bond already.

Woods is a solid vet two years removed from an ACL injury. Collins was a third rounder with size who hasn't done a whole lot. Dell is easily the most exciting option at receiver this team has. John Metchie III was expected to be the next guy up. Unfortunately, cancer had him take a backseat, until now. Metchie is back at practice this week, so a debut is imminent. He could potentially challenge for more playing time, but it may take him some time to get used to things and get going again.

As far as my statistical prediction for his season, he only needs to average four catches for 67 yards per game, and get a touchdown every two to three games for the remainder of the season. Given Brown being out the next few games, Metchie not quite being up to speed, Woods being an older player on a short-term deal, and Collins not really being what everyone thought he could be, it leaves things wide open for Dell to step up.

Playmakers come in all shapes and sizes. Levon Kirkland was a 300-pound middle linebacker in a 3-4. Doug Flutie led teams to playoff wins as a 5'9 quarterback. In football, size matters. The bigger, stronger guys normally win out. When it comes to receiving and returns, you want speed, quickness, and agility. Dell has that in spades. Add his competitive nature and chemistry with his quarterback and you have a recipe for a star in the making. I know I'm not the only one hoping the Texans continue Tank-ing.

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