The Texans have a lot of holes that anger all of us, but they are absolutely rich in one area: Receivers.
Except one of them is not being used correctly. Will Fuller should be the best WR2 in the league. He has all the capabilities. Teams thrive when they have a dynamic quarterback and an over-the-top burner at the wideout position.
Example A: Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill (although everyone seems to be a threat with Mahomes under center).
Example B: Carson Wentz and DeSean Jackson. A new dimension was added to the Eagles’ offense when they brought Jackson back. We saw it against Washington.
Example C: Lamar Jackson and Marquise Brown. It has been a small sample size, but I call it like I see it.
Example D: Deshaun Watson and Will Fuller. We need more consistency, though.
Let’s take a look.
Here the Saints come out in man coverage with Eli Apple playing deep. As soon as Kenny Stills comes over the middle and DeAndre Hopkins goes into his break, the play would be over as Fuller had Apple beat. Had he been hit in stride, it is an easy touchdown. The ball traveled over fifty yards in the air and still needed more mustard on it.
Fuller’s athleticism and technique allows him to adjust to the ball before Apple has a chance to react. The one-handed catch shows the gift he has as a wideout. With a lot of receivers, this play is an incompletion, a pass interference, or an interception with a better defensive back covering Fuller.
This play is from Thursday Night Football last year. The Dolphins play man coverage here. Fuller beats his man basically right from the snap. Safety help is Miami’s only hope. The safety comes down to help on Hopkins as he comes across the middle. As soon as that happens, Fuller is set free and there is nothing the Dolphins can do about it. Deshaun sees it. Easy money.
Bill Belichick is usually a wizard at taking away the deep threat. I have questioned his overall defensive schemes over the years, but his secondaries have always been top notch. Here we see Fuller matched up against Malcolm Butler in the Divisional Round playoff game from January 2017. It’s man coverage once again. Fuller runs 3⁄4 speed up the field as Butler looks like he anticipates a break, but Fuller darts for the end zone. It’s a foot race at this point. Once Fuller turns on the jets, it’s over. [NAME REDACTED] hits him over the top for a score.
Chris Herndon actually does not play this coverage that poorly. He was just on an island with Fuller and the safety was coming over from the opposite side of the field.
Here, the pressure gets to Deshaun before Fuller is able to break completely free. This should have been a completed pass, though. It would have been a touchdown, or at least a huge play, had it been caught.
The crossers here split the Kansas City defense in a Sunday Night Football game from October 2017. DeAndre Hopkins, the best wide receiver in the NFL, was actually covered well. Fuller, once again, won with his blazing over-the-top speed. His man kept up well, but not well enough. The Chiefs played this nearly perfectly. But when you have a burner like Fuller, sometimes you just toss it up and let him go get it.
Enough clips. You get the point.
Fuller is devastating for any defense coordinator to deal with. It is a luxury when you KNOW a play is over in the snap of a finger. These things are hard to pick up watching on television, but a quarterback’s mouth oozes with saliva when a player like Fuller has a defensive back one-on-one. It would add another dimension to the Texans’ offense if they integrated Fuller more into their game plan. Six catches through two games is not going to cut it.
When Fuller is not putting pressure on the secondary, the middle-of-the-field routes become difficult and plays take too long to develop. With their shaky offensive line, the Texans cannot afford extra time for guys to get open. That is why Fuller is key to Houston’s offense. He literally gets the other receivers open.
I understand he is coming off a season-ending injury and is somewhat banged up, but this should not be hard.