Offseason workouts are over. Done. That’s it. Now the players head home to do whatever they want until training camp starts up next month. After spending time with rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson, Bill O’Brien had some kind words to say about the young man.
“He had to learn a pretty sophisticated offense at Clemson. He had to do a lot of things at the line of scrimmage. I think he was trained really well. That's a credit to the Clemson staff.
He'd already been in some big games when he got here. When he came here, he put his head down and came to work every day.
He's a very poised guy. I like the way he carries himself. I like the way he operates. He's a rookie, and he's not nearly where he needs to be to be a full-time starter in this league, but you can tell he's got a lot of qualities you like.
For being a rookie, he's wise beyond his years. He asks great questions in the morning meeting, and you can tell he's studied the night before. Every practice isn't perfect. He knows he needs to get a lot better. And he did get better every day during the spring. It's no pads, of course. It's not real football, but he did improve in his knowledge of the offense.
We put a lot on his plate during the spring, and he handled it very well. He made mistakes, and he corrected them. You don't see him make the same mistake twice.
He can do a lot of things. He can operate our running game and in our passing game. He's got a lot of athleticism. I don't think we'll have to limit him. Training camp and preseason games will be a big test.”
Those are the types of things coaches say and fans read during this time of year. [Name Redacted] has been outstanding in Cleveland. Mitch Trubisky had a great mini-camp. Andy Reid has been impressed by Pat Mahomes’ work ethic. DeShone Kizer is going to be Ben Roethlisberger. It’s the usual July optimism that warps brains until mean, cold reality seeps on in.
That being said, there are two things I find interesting. First is what O’Brie said regarding Watson being a rookie. After watching Watson, I found him to be the best quarterback in this class right now. He had the best grasp of the position out of all of the draftees. Despite this, and the comments O’Brien made regarding poise and work ethic, the coach made it a point to bring up inexperience and how difficult it is to be a starting NFL quarterback. Tom Savage hasn’t shown anything to make the case to be a starting quarterback either, but O’Brien is already looking to roll with him barring disaster or a Russell Wilson-esque preseason from Watson.
This isn’t a bad thing. It’s better to have a quarterback sit, watch, wait, and learn until he’s ready. If Watson isn’t there, he’s better off hanging around until then. The real issue comes when teams throw quarterbacks out there in desperation. See Blaine Gabbert, Blake Bortles, and Jared Goff as examples of many QBs that started before they were ready because of a hot coaching seat and a poor start to the season. Something similar could happen to Houston this year, with the first seven games being against Jacksonville, Cincinnati, New England, Tennessee, Kansas City, Cleveland, and Seattle. if the Texans start off 2-5, I just hope O’Brien sticks with Savage until Watson is completely ready to play instead of tossing him into a situation he isn’t fully ready for.
The second thing O’Brien said is a reassurance of what made Watson a top pick to begin with. The intangibles, like the work ethic, the winning mentality, the poise, the athleticism. All the things that made Watson such a special player in Clemson are still here during the beginning of his professional career with the Texans.
These words don’t hold weight about whatever happens in the future. They are just snippets of the preseason press puzzle. Whatever happens, let’s just hope Watson is very good, Savage plays well, the Texans start off strong, and the rookie doesn’t play until whenever he’s ready.