The Houston Texans’ Thanksgiving menu featured turnovers and touchdowns. The timely play from their defense paired with another week of strong execution from quarterback Deshaun Watson turned an unseasoned matchup into an early appetizer brimming with flavor.
Once J.J. Watt’s pick-six put the Texans on the board, it was all Watson the rest of the way—well, all Watson and fifth-year wide receiver Will Fuller. The two-time Pro Bowl quarterback has been on a streak over the past six weeks with calls to “Free Watson” getting louder as Houston, overall, has clawed its way to only four wins. The same sentiment, to get Watson with a team that doesn’t trade its star receiver for breadcrumbs, was echoed again Thursday after he finished 17-of-25 passing for 318 yards and four touchdowns in the 41-25 statement win; albeit, it was against the Detroit Lions’ bad defense.
For as good as Watson was, he could have been better—and that was the most encouraging for Houston.
“It was definitely good, but I missed two touchdowns,” Watson told NFL media following the game.
Nonetheless, Watson has been red-hot, completing 68% of his passes and averaging 12.7 yards per attempt. In his last six games, Watson has completed 70.5% of his passes for 1,750 yards, 15 touchdowns and zero turnovers. He’s averaged 8.75 yards per attempt and has one rushing touchdown to boot.
“We’re just getting started,” Fuller said. He finished the win with 171 yards and two touchdowns on six catches. “Deshaun is playing great. He’s our leader, and we’re going to keep making it happen.”
For a team with just a handful of wins, it’s tough to imagine anything going well. But Watson has done more than most with a heck of a lot less. He’s kept a team that has done little to provide him with a proper support system relevant, and his recent surge continues to show us he’s still one of the best quarterbacks in the league.
The biggest storyline following the Texans into Thursday’s game was: Can Watson continue to play great? If this was a winning team, it wouldn’t have been a different question. The Texans’ management woes have muddied Watson’s career year. He’s projected to finish the season with 4,656 yards and 35 touchdowns. Watson currently leads the NFL in yards (3,201) and adjusted yards gained per attempt (9.5) while playing in a middling offense. Houston has taken steps to attempt to right its wrongs, but firing head coach/general manager Bill O’Brien a quarter of the way into the season does little to help Watson now.
Fortunately, Houston started to heat up after upsetting the New England Patriots in Week 11; prior to that, the Texans had lost three of their four matchups, which was a good reminder that wins are not a quarterback stat. While injuries have damaged Houston’s skill positions, leaving Watson without wide receivers Randall Cobb (toe) and Kenny Stills (quad) plus running back David Johnson (concussion), he continues to remind us of his star power and the connection he can build with healthy pass-catchers. He’s responsible for the Texans having the seventh-best passing offense (with little to no help from the backfield, which is the second-worst rushing unit in the league).
Everything points to Houston finishing strong, but with matchups against a few of the top overall defenses in the coming weeks, the Texans will need more than spectacular play from Watson. The complete performance we saw Thursday will help morale and set up a contending 2021 season.
It might be too late for the Texans this year, but Watson is still giving us a show worth viewing.
- Aug 22, 2022
- Aug 22, 2022