Houston Texans: The steps team must take to protect Deshaun Watson

Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson once again is the league’s most-sacked QB. What can be done to mitigate this? Let’s take a look at some options.

The Houston Texans were able to get their first win of the season this past Sunday.  I wouldn’t categorize the win as one of the prettiest but it was one nonetheless.  It was a usual day at the office for the Houston Texans, Deshaun Watson running for his life while taking some punishment, some boring, yet predictable offensive schemes and some flashing of key defensive Houston Texans‘ players out on the field.

Despite all of the new additions to the offense this season, are we truly going to see the same shoddy product that we’ve continued to experience in the Bill O’Brien era?  At the rate things are going, despite O’Brien promoting Tim Kelly to offensive coordinator, it appears that things are on track for that.

Even with that notion possibly on the horizon, the Houston Texans still have an excellent chance of not only winning the division but could possibly win one playoff game.  I think the expectation is that there should be at least two playoff wins but with either of those opponents being likely either the New England Patriots or the Kansas City Chiefs, that may be a tough act for this team to follow.

It’s a long season so we’ll see but the outlook is still positive for 2019 as this team remains relatively healthy out of the gate.

But I truly worry about the rate at which Watson is getting sacked.  He’s already been taken down for a loss of yards 10 times this season — six against the New Orleans Saints and four against the Jacksonville Jaguars — to which I’m not sure how long he’s going to be able to keep this up.

He amazingly finds a way to do that and he was able to start all 16 games last season after his 2017 rookie campaign being cut short with an ACL injury.

Watson has proven that he’s the real deal but it’s just a situation where the must be a way to keep him healthy and upright.

With an inexperienced offensive line along with Watson holding onto the football too long as well as always trying to make the big play, he could be taxing the group of five that have been tasked to protect him.

Robert Mays of The Ringer echoes this notion and feels that O’Brien should focus more on heavy sets and max-protection looks that feature two or three receivers running routes.

Mays also mentions that a lot of times, the Houston Texans have three receivers running deep routes along with just a single tight end to which he thinks puts the line at a disadvantage.  I’ve certainly seen that before as it creates an opportunity for a pass rusher to get to Watson even quicker.

According to Pro Football Focus, Watson was 4th among NFL quarterbacks in time to attempt back in 2018, averaging 2.84 seconds.

Where is he at now?  Watson is currently ranked 12th-worst at this metric, currently averaging 2.69 seconds to throw.  This is an improvement yet it’s not necessarily reducing the number of sacks that he’s taking on a per-game basis.

We all know that Watson is extremely thirsty on making the big play and will do whatever it takes to make it happen.  It’s a tough balance sometimes for O’Brien because he wants to give him the flexibility yet wants to have him execute the game plan that they practice week after week.

The problem is that the game plan executed seems to be for maximum protection and not what he’s getting now.

This cycle can’t continue and Laremy Tunsil, Tytus Howard, Senio Kelemete, Zach Fulton, Nick Martin, Roderick Johnson and Seantrel Henderson can’t magically be the Great Wall in just a couple of games of rapport together.

It will take patience and diction but unfortunately, the attention span of an NFL fan is measured in

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nanoseconds.  You’ve got to shape up quickly or else interest will be lost.  Ultimately, it’s likely going to take Mike Devlin being sacrificial lamb in order for this initiative to be carried out.

O’Brien is giving him a chance because this is the first season since Devlin joined the team in 2015, that the franchise has made significant investments in the offensive line.  So he’s going to get his shot to get it right this season; but if not, it’s time to cut ties with the veteran assistant.

It’s that simple.

But that’s not necessarily going to fix the problem that is at hand.  All we can do is to urge Watson to get rid of the football and to try not to compromise his body to help his team win.

It’s beautiful to watch but I want to see this for the next 10 years, not just two so this has to get right or the 2019 season will be viewed as one where the team shoulda, coulda, woulda and will have nothing to show for it.

Let’s go Houston Texans!

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Watson has passed 427 yards while passing for three touchdowns to one interception along with two rushing TDs this season through his first two games.  He’s throwing at a 61 percent completion rate and has a 77.8 QBR so far.

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