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When Will Deshaun Watson Start? A Hypothesis

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Deshaun Watson will probably start sometime this season. The question is when.

NFL: Houston Texans-OTA Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

In 2013, the Texans needed a quarterback.

In 2014, the Texans needed a quarterback.

In 2015, the Texans needed a quarterback.

In 2016, the Texans needed a quarterback.

And in 2017, for the second year in a row, it seems like the Texans have found themselves a quarterback. As training camp approaches, the biggest story is the Texans’ first round pick Deshaun Watson. How quickly will he master the playbook? Will his pocket presence, anticipation, and mobility make up for his lack of arm strength? Most importantly, when will he start?

We haven’t seen anything that points to to Tom Savage being a NFL-caliber starting quarterback. He’s been in the same offensive system for three years, yet he still holds onto the ball and makes decisions slowly. There were multiple times he could have gotten the chance to start, yet it took thirteen weeks of Brock Osweiler being rank and putrid for Savage to finally get a chance to play. Additionally, in the three games Savage played, he completed 46 of his 73 passes (60.9%) for 461 yards, averaging an underwhelming 6.32 yards an attempt. When the Texans traded up in the first round and selected Deshaun Watson, they did so with the intention of him playing sooner rather than later.

I don’t think anyone knows right now when Watson is going to start. Not Bill O’Brien. Not Rick Smith. It looks like the Texans are going to say all the same things this training camp. Things like, “Savage is our starter” and “Watson is a terrific young kid. But the NFL is a different beast, and rookie quarterbacks are never really ready to start.” But because of Savage’s past performance, coupled with when Watson was selected, it seems like the rookie is going to get a chance to start this season.

I have an idea when Watson may start. My guess is that he starts Week Nine. The first eight weeks of the Texans’ schedule are brutal.

Jacksonville is probably going to have a top ten defense. New England, Kansas City, and Seattle are preseason Super Bowl contenders, Cincinnati and Tennessee are preseason playoff contenders. Cleveland will be better, with a young and talented defense. No matter who the quarterback is, it’s going to be a rough road to start the year for Houston. With Savage starting, I don’t see the Texans being much better than 3-4 at that point in the season.

The Texans’ defense will be great. The division will be tougher. The offense will probably be stagnant. The grumblings will come, and Houston will want to make a change. Even though Bill O’Brien has quickly pulled quarterbacks in the past, I don’t think he will do the same with Savage because of the schedule, especially in light of O’Brien’s repeated statements about the difficulty of the league. Watson is probably going to play this year, and my best guess is that it will come after the Seattle game, when the Texans host Indianapolis at NRG Stadium.