Last night the Texans and the Panthers squared off in the first official preseason action for both teams. The goal of this article is to cover the performance of one Deshaun Watson, rookie signal-caller out of Clemson and the 12th overall pick.
To start, recall that Houston traded away 2 first round picks in order to move up to #12. The investment in Watson is very high.
Here is what pundits had to say:
Deshaun Watson has the maturity, poise and big-stage clutchness to do for Texans what Dak did for the Cowboys. DON'T PROTECT HIM. PLAY HIM.— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) August 10, 2017
Watson looks very smooth tonight. Footwork, poise & decision making— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) August 10, 2017
Skip Bayless is a fake sensationalist. You can expect palaver from him.
Steve Mariucci is regarded as a QB expert former coach. Hot takes are his game now and praising rookie QBs while avoiding negativity is his typical fare.
Daniel Jeremiah is a hot take machine, but this take seems disingenuous to me.
Let's get a quick overview. Watson played with the second-stringers and finished 15 of 25 (60%), 179 yards (11.93 avg), and 1 rushing TD. Looking at the numbers on paper, that is not bad for a first showing. See all of his plays in the video below:
Watching every play in hindsight, it was clear that Houston has tailored an offense to fit Watson rather than the other way around. They ran the shotgun spread 22 times and he took a snap under center just 7 times, 4 of those were bootleg rollouts. The positives included extending plays with elusiveness, tucking and running, and throwing on the run. Additionally, he didn't turn the ball over. On the negative side, the inaccuracy was apparent with multiple overthrows and a few underthrows. He rarely hit his receivers in stride, to give them an opportunity to create more yards. The ball was caught in every conceivable way, high, low, behind the receiver, and just a couple in stride. It was also clear that he was still scanning just half of the field, like he did at Clemson.
We basically saw Houston running the Clemson offense. That creates a strange juxtaposition as the Tom Savage led starting offense does not run that style. I think Houston recognizes that Watson is not ready, but rolled out an offense that gave him the best chance to succeed. The press has been kind to Watson and the Texans would like to keep it that way.
Keep all of this in mind when a team coming off of a 3-13 record enters preseason with a QB they drafted 2nd overall. The press will be savage with any perceived mistake made by Trubisky. I also don't suspect the Bears will afford him the benefit of running North Carolina's offense. Chances are, Trubisky will get to play just the fourth quarter at a maximum, being that he is third string. He is also likely to hand the ball off quite a bit. What matters is how the next decade shakes out, not a few preseason games.