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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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Correa knows it's time for his payday. Composite image by Jack Brame.

The Rangers made a big splash over the weekend when they agreed to terms on a 7-year $175 million contract with infielder Marcus Semien. Apparently, that was just the tip of the iceberg. According to multiple reports, the Rangers have also added arguably the most coveted player in free agency, Corey Seager. Seager and the Rangers have agreed to a massive 10-year $325 million contract.

Before the Seager news broke, many were starting to wonder if teams would be willing to hand out 10-year deals for over 300 million dollars with the lockout just around the corner. Now we have our answer, and Carlos Correa has to be a very happy man to see how the market is shifting. The Rangers not only added two incredible players, but they also made it pretty much a certainty that Correa will either leave Houston, or the Astros will have to sign him to a long-term $300 million deal, which is not likely based on their stance on multi-year big money contracts.

The Rangers aren't the only team in the AL West making blockbuster moves. The Mariners agreed to terms with 2021 AL Cy Young Award winner Robbie Ray on Monday. Ray and Seattle agreed to a 5-year, $115 million contract.

The Angels joined in on the action a couple of weeks ago when they signed Noah Syndergard to a 1-year 21 million dollar deal.

Clearly, the AL West is on notice that they're going to have to make big changes if they want to compete with the Houston Astros who have dominated the AL recently with 5 straight ALCS appearances and 3 trips to the World Series. With Correa likely out the door in Houston, these teams might believe this is a perfect time to make a run at the division and finally knock off the Astros. Only time will tell if these deals will work, and the Astros look to have a terrific team this season whether Correa returns or not.

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