We always hear the same names when it comes to who’s the best quarterback in the NFL. For years, we’ve heard about Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Russell Wilson, Tom Brady and, as of last season, Patrick Mahomes. It’s now time to add a new name to the conversation. His name is Deshaun Watson.
Watson’s college head coach Dabo Swinney made a bold claim leading up to the 2017 NFL Draft. He claimed that passing on Deshaun Watson was like “passing on Michael Jordan”. Though Watson did help Clemson slay the almighty Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2017 National Championship Game, nobody at that time understood the merits of Swinney’s claim. Watson came out of Clemson as one of the more overlooked QBs in the draft. Other prospects like Mitch Trubisky and Patrick Mahomes were seen as more talented and better for the long run. Though Watson had accomplished many things at Clemson, few thought he would ever have a chance to be a top QB on the next level.
The skeptics couldn’t have been more wrong.
Watson has that “IT” factor. I like to refer to him as “Big Game Deshaun” because he always shows up no matter the situation. His run in the NFL has been nothing but spectacular. He has shown time after time his big game ability against the best teams and best quarterbacks in the NFL. We’ve seen it against Tom Brady and the Patriots, Russell Wilson and the Seahawks, Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints, and the then-defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles.
We all remember DW4’s welcome to the NFL moment, that first duel against Brady. Watching Watson walk into Gillette Stadium and go toe-to-toe with that Patriots made Texans fans realize that we had something special. Watson was on pace to have one of the greatest QB seasons in NFL history until he went down with an ACL injury.
As the Texans’ starter, Watson’s record is 18-10, with a record of 0-1 in the NFL Playoffs. In the regular season, Watson has not lost a game by more than eight points. That means Watson gave Houston a chance to win in every game he’s played. He’s also shown undeniable leadership as the Texans’ starting QB. The best example game came in the 2018 NFL season when Houston started the year 0-3, only to finish the year 11-5 and atop the AFC South.
I believe Watson’s greatest performance came in a close loss against the Philadelphia Eagles. Philly was a desperate team fighting for a playoff spot, and Watson was coming into their house looking to secure possible home field advantage and a first round bye in the playoffs. Watson rose to the occasion once again, delivering 388 total yards, four total touchdowns, and a potential game-winning touchdown pass to then-Texan Vyncint Smith. If only the defense had stopped the Eagles one time to seal the win, it would’ve been Watson’s biggest win up to date.
Each season, Watson gets better and more comfortable in the NFL. His poise in the pocket now is light years ahead of where it was when he first came into the league. He is more patient. As a rookie, he was always looking to make the splash plays, which resulted in so many hits and interceptions (eight in his first seven games). Now, he takes the checkdown option. He reads defenses like a pro. He’s a better decision maker in the pocket. There is nothing he can’t do as a QB, and there is no glaring weakness to his game.
What makes Watson even more special is his mental toughness. We remember the beating he was taking during the first half of last season. He suffered a punctured lung and cracked ribs and had to catch a bus to Jacksonville to play the Jaguars instead of taking a plane. He arrived to Jacksonville and defeated one of the best defenses in the NFL. He is never rattled, no matter the situation.
Watson showed that same grit earlier this season against the New Orleans Saints. Down by six points with less than a minute to go in one of the loudest NFL venues, on Monday Night Football, Watson threw for a TD in two plays, stunning the entire world. He is simply one of the more complete quarterbacks in the NFL, and this in only his third professional season.
Now we move to last Sunday. The Texans traveled to Arrowhead Stadium to face the Super Bowl contending Kansas City Chiefs. This is the first time two young gun NFL stars Mahomes and Watson have met. I’m sure Watson had heard all the chatter. Everyone thought Mahomes was the better QB. They came out in the same draft in 2017, with Mahomes being selected two picks higher than Watson. Watson came into this game as an underdog, but what did he do? He did his best Michael Jordan impression and gave us yet another amazing performance. He was dominant throughout the game, finishing with a total of 322 yards and three TDs. He outplayed Mahomes, placing the Texans second in the AFC with a 4-2 record. He showed why Swinney compared him to Michael Jordan. Watson has shown why you can no longer take him lightly. You can no longer have a conversation about who the best QB conversation is without Watson’s name in it.
I believe that Deshaun Watson is already the best QB in the NFL.
Think about it. Is there another QB you would currently trade for Watson? Do you want anyone else more than Watson on your team? Is there anyone else who could do more with what Watson has been given since entering the NFL?
My answer to all of these questions is no. I truly believe that Watson will bring a Lombardi Trophy to Houston one day. When? I am not sure. Just like Jordan, Watson may have to take his bumps and bruises until he learns what it takes to win a championship. Eventually, he will learn, and eventually, he will bring a Lombardi to Houston.