Every game, teams want to see players improve. In a play-by-play analysis of his second preseason game, we’ll see if Deshaun Watson of the Houston Texans evolved from last week.
As always, the stats never tell the full story. The first drive of the game offered a great example. The box score said 3 of 10 for 102 yards for Watson. On the second play of the drive, Watson threw a slant to the right side. It was complete for six yards. The play could have gone for much more had the ball been placed in front of the receiver, not behind. The receiver had to stop his momentum, causing him to go to the ground and eliminating any yards-after-catch opportunity.
The very next play Watson threw an out route to one of the H-backs. The ball was where it needed to be. The receiver turned upfield before securing the pass. It was initially ruled a fumble, but he never had possession so it was incomplete.
Watson’s first throw on the next possession was batted down at the line of scrimmage. This was on him. He had two receivers open underneath. There was pressure, but he drifted in the pocket and didn’t use his eyes well. The defender got in the throwing lane and batted the throw down.
Watson then showed his mobility. On 3rd and 5, the New England Patriots were in man coverage. Nobody was open so Watson scrambled left. A defensive back had him dead to rights two yards before the first-down marker and pinned to the sideline. It looked like Watson might go out, but he jumped back inside and half-dived for the first down. This was a good play to keep the drive alive.
The following play, through good play design, got the receiver open underneath. It was a 33-yard gain but an easy pitch and catch. Watson did a good job of standing tall in the pocket and letting the play develop.
The next throw was a timing throw. The route combination had the slot receiver running an out route. The outside receiver ran deep. The ball was on the 13-yard line, 3rd and 3. The slot receiver couldn’t get off the jam so he was out of the question. The receiver to the outside executed an effective stutter release and was able to get a half step on the corner.
This is what separates the best of the best from the quarterbacks not yet ready to perform at the highest level. Watson was a tick late with his throw and the ball flew out of bounds. There is such a thing as a good miss. If you’re going to miss on these throws, miss out of bounds. The thought process is if my guy can’t catch it, nobody can. However, Watson does have to keep his pass inbounds, throwing it sooner while the defender is still recovering. That’s how the rookie can take the next step as a professional.
We were able to see Watson in a two-minute drill. The first throw was a miscommunication. The receiver sat down in coverage and Watson thought he would sit down in the zone. This receiver had just recently signed with the Texans, so that’s no surprise. After a gain of five, Houston faced 3rd and 5. The slot receiver ran a curl route to the sticks and got open. It was a good route. The throw was errant and to the right. Should the receiver have caught this? The best of the best do, yes, but the throw wasn’t where it needed to be. This was on Watson.
I don’t think Watson will feel great about this performance. His timing was off. That happens with receivers a quarterback isn’t familiar with. We’ll see after another week of practice if Watson will improve.