David Carr 2.0? What The Texans Are Doing To Deshaun Watson Is Terrifying

John P Lopez
September 21, 2020 - 7:32 am

HOUSTON (SportsRadio 610) -- Deshaun Watson knows the score, literally.

He’s been outplayed and outdone by players with whom he is most compared.

While Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson have won MVPs and a Super Bowls, Watson has been lassoed and restrained.

Watson also has seen other players of his caliber flourish – only Sunday, Russell Wilson put on a head-spinning performance while Dak Prescott led a miraculous comeback.

Kyler Murray soared, running circles around Washington and playing pitch-and-catch with Watson’s former teammate, DeAndre Hopkins. Watson even saw Buffalo’s gifted Josh Allen become the early-season NFL passing leader after throwing for more than 400-yards Sunday and leading his team to a 2-0 start.

Watson?

While he may not be afflicted, he’s showing a lot of symptoms of the malady that ruined former Texans No. 1 draft pick David Carr.

It hurts to acknowledge it, knowing Watson’s incredible gifts and knack for the spectacular.

But the cold, hard truth is that in Sunday’s humiliating 33-16 loss to Jackson’s Ravens, Watson did things with which Texans fans are all too familiar.

He ran for his life. He got pummeled. He misfired badly on potential game-changing wide-open throws. He threw high, low, wide.

And worst of all, he seemed indecisive – especially when his incredible mobility put him in position to either tuck-and-run, or fire the ball confidently to a receiver as we’ve seen often.

Watson currently ranks 21st in the NFL in quarterback rating, 18th in touchdowns and 32nd in interceptions. Watson also has just 44 rushing yards, trailing all the above-mentioned quarterbacks, as well as Cam Newton and rookie Joe Burrow.

Bill O’Brien and Tim Kelly are hindering the franchise quarterback. They’re in his head.

Rather than allowing Watson’s abilities to speak for themselves, they’re seemingly making him hear voices. He’s handling pass protection at the line of scrimmage. Play-calling has him dumping off short, safe tosses crossing in front of the defense, or out-routes in front of the chains.

When plays break down, Watson appears torn between using his running ability to move the chains or do what the checks and coaches say he should do, often ultimately getting dumped for a 1- or 2-yards gain. And worst of all, the roster O’Brien has built around the franchise quarterback is, frankly, not good enough.

Receivers consistently are unable to find separation – especially downfield. A year ago with Watson at quarterback, the Texans averaged more than five throws per game of more than 20 yards. This year, they have six. Total.

The remade running game ranks 28th in the NFL. Big-ticket running back acquisition David Johnson ranks 25th in the league.

Even the supposed strength of the team outside of Watson – the offensive line – has been awful. Watson was hit 11 times on Sunday, which ties his career-high. Watson also has been sacked eight times, tied with Philadelphia’s Carson Wentz as the most in the league.

There is time, of course, to make things right. The question is, how?

O’Brien and sidekick Jack Easterby built this team around Deshaun Watson, then through two games promptly refused to unleash Watson’s abilities.

This “game plan offense” is looking more like the “square peg, round hole” offense.

It doesn’t fit. It’s not working. It’s setting Watson back.

And it looks familiar. Somewhere, David Carr is shaking his head, sympathetically.

John P. Lopez is co-host of In The Loop on SportsRadio 610, Monday-Friday from 10 p.m. to 2 p.m. Lopez is a former columnist for The Houston Chronicle, where he covered Houston sports for 17 years.

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