Texans coach Bill O’Brien wasted no time in benching quarterback Tom Savage after a couple of quarters of football. O’Brien made it clear that rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson is his “guy” until further notice. While Savage had a couple seasons and training camp to prepare for this season, Watson only had two walk-throughs before he was thrown in as the starting QB against the Cincinnati Bengals.
On his 22nd birthday Watson made his very first NFL start and ushered the Texans into a 13-9 victory. While the numbers might not be that impressive independent of the context, when you add in the context of how everything is slowly coming together for the team, it makes the effort admirable and this was a solid and necessary win. While the number of sacks were significantly less in comparison to game one’s whopping 10, there are still significant protection problems. With less than two minutes to go in the 2nd quarter Watson was mercilessly mowed down by Pro Bowl defensive tackle Geno Atkins with a nasty blow to the chest.
Watson went down, but he wasn’t out. He finished the night completing 15 of 24 passes for 125 yards, ran five times for 67 yards (setting a Texans franchise record), and managed to avoid any interceptions. Instead, behind a struggling offensive line that was missing a few key players, Watson was sacked three times and had the play of the night scrambling 49 yards for a touchdown. Watson’s mobility will be the difference maker considering pass protection is not the Texans’ strong suit right now. He will have to find the chemistry that is necessary with his receivers on the fly as the season progresses.
Watson will have a little more time to prepare as the Texans get ready to take on the New England Patriots. When asked of Watson’s ability to adapt to the playbook, O’Brien said, “I don’t feel any limitations. He’s a different quarterback, so I think that it’s relative to what each guy can do, and with Deshaun (Watson), he can do some different things. So, relative to what his skill set is and what he knows and what he can do, I don’t think there’s any limitations.”