FRED FAOUR

Watson turns in elite performance as Texans roll over Dolphins 42-23

Deshaun Watson was terrific on Thursday. Bob Levey/Getty Images

Deshaun Watson has had mixed results all season. He has dealt with a subpar offensive line, bad play calling and several injuries.

In Thursday night’s game, we saw what he can be at his best.

Watson was 16 of 20, threw for 239 yards, 5 TDs and for the second straight game did not turn the ball over as the Texans had their best offensive game of the season in an 42-23 win over Miami.

As a result, the Texans sit at 5-3 after the halfway point of the season. They lead the AFC South and are looking very much like a playoff team. Their last two games have been their best of the season.

Watson was a game manager last week and led the Texans over Jacksonville. Thursday night, he was the playmaker we saw last season.

Watson eluded the pass rush and made big plays. He hit long passes. He was efficient and effective. And if this Watson shows up the rest of the season? The Texans have a chance to be very good.

He threw darts against his body. He hit deep passes. He made smart decisions. In short, he looked like an elite quarterback.

The running game certainly helped, as Lamar Miller had his best game as a Texan with 133 rushing yards. The offensive line kept Watson clean - he was not sacked once.

Watson made the most of it. He was accurate, poised. When he plays like that, the Texans can beat anyone. He looked healthy for the first time in weeks, and the results showed.

Yes, the Dolphins are garbage. The Texans were supposed to beat them handily. But Watson was beyond excellent and looked like the player we all fell in love with last season.

Is he a franchise quarterback? Absolutely. Can he be elite? Maybe.

Thursday night, he certainly was.


 

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF O'BRIEN'S COACHING

Not my job: Texans no match for the Ravens

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

The Texans fell to the Ravens 33-16 in a game they had a shot at winning. Most of you reading this will probably think I'm crazy for saying that. I assure you, I meant what I said. One of the reasons they didn't was because Bill O'Brien made a few questionable decisions that cost this team.

The first was the 4th & 1 decision. Deciding to go for it was bad enough. They were down 3-0 near the end of the first quarter with the ball on their own 34-yard line. This is not a situation that calls for a gamble or statement play. The play call itself was okay I guess: a play action bootleg with two short options. It was read and played perfectly by the Ravens defense. Deshaun Watson had nowhere to go with the ball and had to throw it at Darren Fells' back before getting sacked. That led to a quick Ravens touchdown and an early 10-0 deficit. I seriously think he has PTSD after that playoff loss to the Chiefs when it comes to fourth down calls. Bumbling Bill strikes again!

When they got the ball back, they scored a touchdown thanks to more play action passes and pre-snap motion. It was as if Bumbling Bill realized his offensive line was outmatched by the front seven they're opposing. Sure Watson is mobile and looks like a magician escaping sacks, but misdirection helps throw the defense off and keeps Watson from breaking into 177,000,000 pieces. Oh, and the quick reads were a good idea as well. Too bad Bumbling Bill went away from that and opted for longer developing routes. Or will he blame it on Timid Tim Kelly? Or was Waiting Watson holding onto the ball too long? I blame all three.

Also, can we stop starting drives with the predictable run, run, pass combo please? First down should be play action rollout with Watson having the ability to choose to run if it's there. More run/pass/option plays need to be called as well. Incorporate more things that we saw when Watson was on his way to winning rookie of the year before his knee was sacrificed for the Astros.

Credit where it's due: the end of the first half to get a field goal with a minute and change left was good to see. Typically, these situations tend to make Bumbling Bill come out. I liked the quick slant to Cobb with no timeouts. They were able to spike the ball and get the field goal up.

The game was still within reach at 23-13 in the beginning of the fourth quarter. On a 4th & 1, they gave up a 30 yard touchdown run on a direct snap to Mark Ingram. I saw gaps on both sides of the defensive line pre-snap. Sure enough, Ingram got a lead block from the Ravens human plough of a fullback and that effectively put the nail in the coffin at 30-13. I know the tendency is to quarterback sneak or run up the middle, but don't leave gaps along the defensive line trying to stack the middle. First time defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver will take the L on this one.

Overall, I'll give O'Brien and his coaching staff a C- this game. Mistakes were made that could've cost them a legit shot at winning, but the Keke Coutee fumble return for a touchdown wasn't their fault. The play calling menu was brought to us this week by Craft Pita via the "What's Eric Eating" podcast. Tune in next week for another "Not my job!"

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