TEXANS QB HAS MADE ESCAPING TROUBLE ELEMENTARY AS HE CONTINUES TO MAKE MAGIC HAPPEN.

Watson: Houdini with a helmet on

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Deshaun Watson has matured right before our eyes as he continues to get better and better. He has continually overcome injury, survived his early years with the Bill O' Brien offense and the bad o-line that came with it and learned from each mistake he has made along the way. He knows when to stay in the pocket and go through his progressions and when to tuck it and run. His passing skills have always been good but they seemingly improve with every snap and the fact that he faces the music and the media when he plays poorly and then goes back to the lab to get better means his dedication to his craft lives up to the growing hype train that is rolling down the tracks. Houston and fans of the Texans everywhere need to appreciate what they get to witness every week when No. 4 gets behind center for their team and be thankful that after all those lean QB years with a revolving door of misfits and journeymen, you finally have your franchise quarterback.

Texans Rick Smith Bill O'Brien, Tytus Howard, Brian Gaine Composite photo by Brandon Strange

I know it's hard to fathom, but in an indirect way, you have to thank Brock Osweiler for getting Watson to H-town. If Osweiler had remotely worked out after the team signed him to a huge free-agent deal, you would never have Watson in red, white and blue. Be thankful Rick Smith tried to right his wrong and no matter the price and how many draft picks were lost in the process, the moves he made to make drafting the Clemson QB a reality were worth every penny. The Chicago Bears surely have to be kicking themselves as they did what Smith and the Texans did, giving up a future first-round pick to get their franchise quarterback, but Mitch Trubisky is no Deshaun Watson or Patrick Mahomes for that matter. Both MVP candidate quarterbacks went later in the same draft and were passed over by the Bears who felt "Maseratii Mitch" was better. Thank goodness they did as Chiefs fans and Texans fans will always look back on those draft day dealings and feel thankful.

The early returns on the 2017 QB class gave all the accolades and the top billing to Mahomes and rightfully so. After sitting out his first year to learn the ropes, system and coaching staff, he took the league by storm and became a human highlight reel every Sunday. The season culminated with a tough loss to the Patriots in the AFC Championship game, but also with Mahomes winning the NFL MVP Award. Could you imagine if Watson had an innovative offensive mind like Andy Reid from the start? What if he had the Chiefs o-line? Can you imagine Watson operating with all the weapons Mahomes had and has at most every skill position? I say that to make the point that the media and most experts thought it was a no-brainer that Mahomes was the cream of the 2017 crop of QB's and forgot the fact that Houston was still putting pieces around their QB1 and once they did, he would continue to get better and better.

He also had to overcome the after-effects of an injury suffered in the midst of a season that almost surely was headed for rookie of the year as well as MVP consideration. As we look at the two quarterbacks now, it's more of a dead heat and toss-up than it was just a year ago and the future may very well dictate that Deshaun will be king of the hill when all is said and done. Regardless of how it all ends, be thankful you will be along for the ride, every step of the way, as he leads your team into battle for each and every game. As much as people scoffed at Dabo Sweeney when he proclaimed the whichever team drafted Watson, his college QB, was getting the Michael Jordan of football, he doesn't look too far off as we watch Watson's meteoric rise.

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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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