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