Houston Texans: What led to Deshaun Watson’s success against Chiefs

Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)
Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images) /

Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson was absolutely instrumental in the team’s success in besting the Chiefs. What led to it? Let’s take a look.

The Houston Texans were victorious over the Kansas City Chiefs this past Sunday, proving that they can get a quality win over some of the better competition in the NFL.  That’s what it will take to prove in eyes of the onlookers outside of Houston that this team legitimately has what it takes to be successful.

Now how I deem that meaning behind the latter part of that previous graph that I wrote is the fact that just winning the division and getting the playoffs is not enough for the Houston Texans.  They need to win a playoff series — at least two — to show that they’ve progressed from year’s past.  Beating the Chiefs, which are heavily-favored along with New England Patriots in the AFC, is the type of statement-win you need to prove your viability in this competitive conference.

Especially after this week’s win, one can make a case that this team is the second-best in the conference as it stands now.  There are a lot of holes that will likely have to be addressed in the offseason but this team has the essential ingredients — a dominant quarterback, highly-talented offensive weapons, stronger pass protection, and a sound defensive line.  That’s enough to take a team many places although I wish the secondary was a bit stronger than it currently is.

Romeo Crennel must scheme to make up for their weaknesses and it’s currently involving more zone-type defensive formations as they’ve proven they can’t compete effectively one-on-one with teams like the Chiefs.  Crennel went to that in the second half and yielded more positive results in the game.  Although not perfect, it’s still safer to have these guys play off the ball in their zone so they don’t continuously get burnt.

But anyway, that’s for next week’s discussion, let’s talk more about what made Deshaun Watson — as well as the rest of the team — over the Chiefs last week.

NFL Network’s Cynthia Frelund did a great graphic presentation, breaking down what factored into the Houston Texans‘ success using the Next Gen Stats, the wave of the future in terms of metrically analyzing opponents.

Let’s take a look at it here:


In the quite informative video clip that’s slightly over about a minute, she explains that it was Watson’s efficient passing and short-term yardage that led to his success.

I agree with that but it’s also important to know that he got rid of the ball on time — part of the efficiency — that led to the offensive line being able to pass-protect him, going the second straight week without giving up a sack.

Here’s what Frelund said along with my notes to counter:

  • Watson was efficient with checkdown passes, with 239 of his 280 yards comprising of short yardage, which explains his 6.7 per attempt.  I’d like to note that his one passing touchdown was technically an 11-yard pass to Duke Johnson but because of it still being such a short pass, it should be counted among his strategy for this past game.
  • All of DeAndre Hopkins 55 yards receiving came from short passes where caught nine out of 10 targets.  It’s important for me to note that the lone drop he had was a four-yard attempt from Watson to end zone but he was decently covered by Tyrann Mathieu.
  • The Houston Texans effectively kept Mahomes off the field by controlling the clock with the Houston Texans (39:48) holding the ball almost a full 20 minutes longer than the Chiefs (20:12) last week.  That’s a great stat to point out and it certainly rung true to one of the keys of winning the game.
  • Patrick Mahomes was not good when the Houston Texans put him under pressure as he was only 1-for-8 (12.5 percent) when passing under pressure which gives credit to the defensive line.
  • Mahomes deep-ball throwing capabilities were severely diminished this game, being 1-for-5

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    going deep for 46 yards and one touchdown which was the opening 46-yard pass to Tyreek Hill for the score.  The Houston Texans did not let that happen again and this was certainly the way they were able to climb themselves back into the game and ultimately win it all.

    Frelund also points out that Mahomes was 61.1 percent from deep in Week 1-3 but has just been 26.1 in his last three weeks of play.

    Is this the blueprint to beat the Chiefs?  It’s a heck of a start but there’s no question they’re going to innovate to buck this disturbing trend of theirs.  What’s most effective?  Agitating Mahomes and keeping him off the field to which the Houston Texans did both.  I imagine they’ll have to think of something different by the time they face the Chiefs again, likely in the playoffs if they keep their current trend upward.

    Next. Texans' rushing attack is as strongest is it has ever been. dark

    Watson feasted on this opportunity and not only allowed him to overcome the two picks he threw but to be right on top when the dust settled in final minutes of what would be a Houston Texans‘ win.

    Let’s hope these new-look Houston Texans keep this going — let’s go!