Right before all the “Let’s trade our Hall of Fame Wide Receiver for some magic beans that lead to a hole in our salary cap” nonsense happened, Super Bowl MVP quarterback Kurt Warner went on Brian Baldinger’s show, “Baldy’s Breakdown,” and discussed the next generation of NFL superstar QBs. He laid out his definition of just what an MVP QB looked like first:
Just winning is different than being a championship quarterback. Being a championship quarterback is the ability to be able to win in different ways.
Specifically, to me, [it’s] being able to win inside the pocket when a team forces you to win inside the pocket, to make decisions, to make reads, to make the layups you’re supposed to make. That, to me, is what separates Patrick Mahomes from the rest.
There’s no lack of homerism going on with former players, even though when they become “journalists” they’re supposed to be unbiased. Let’s be honest, though: The ‘unbiased journalist’ is a myth these days, so we can’t fault former players for letting their love of former teams seep out. That said, it’s no shock that Warner praised DeAndre Hopkins’ new signal-caller, Arizona Cardinal’s Kyler Murray.
I’m kind of waiting like everyone else. I think we’ve got some good, young playmaking quarterbacks… there’s a bunch of them out there.
The question to me is who can grow and develop their game to the point where they’re not just a playmaking quarterback but they’re a complete quarterback.
Kyler Murray had a great year in Arizona statistically and making plays. If you watch him on film, he didn’t even know what he was doing half the time. He was just making plays.
While Warner also discussed the Lamar Jacksons and Dak Prescotts of the world, of interest to us are his comments on DW4.
Deshaun Watson is another guy. He’s impressive, he’s a leader, he’s a playmaker, but hasn’t really learned how to play the game yet.
Not to turn this into yet another BOYCOTT BILL O’BRIEN post, but if BOB really was Wil-E-O’Brien QB-Whispering Super Genius™, wouldn’t Watson be all he could be going into Year #4? Before laying blame at Watson’s feet, a good leader will do a self-diagnostic (i.e., if O’Brien is a good leader, he’s already done this) test. Here’s what that looks like:
- Did Bill O’Brien put Watson in a system he can succeed in?
- Did O’Brien equip Watson with all the training and tools (surround him with good players) necessary to succeed?
- Has O’Brien had success with others in this system/with these tools that Watson is not achieving?
Weeeeelllll...since none of these questions get a definitive “YES”, the conclusion becomes that even Bill O’Brien can’t coach a phenom quarterback to be the best Texan they can be. Once you’ve looked at the first three questions, you need to then look at the person who isn’t achieving the desired results (in this case, being a “complete” QB).
- Is the person trying their hardest?
- Are they intelligent enough to achieve the desired results?
- Are they healthy enough to achieve the desired results?
After meeting Deshaun Watson in person and talking with him for quite a while, it became very clear to me that Watson is highly motivated, very intelligent, and certainly healthy. So that’s a definitive YES to all these. After running this leadership diagnostic, it’s pretty clear that the failure to achieve the desired results lies with the coaching and system.
It’s easy to take this and think, “Not only has O’Brien wasted Watson’s rookie contract, he’s also wasting Watson’s potential”. Tat thought isn’t wrong. A guy who was described as the “Next Michael Jordan” shouldn’t be on the receiving end of losing a 24-point lead in the NFL Playoffs. He shouldn’t be losing his star wideout in a bad trade. Instead, Watson should have even more talent stacked around him to take advantage of in 2020. It will be interesting to see how Hopkins fares in a different system and whether or not Watson takes his show on the road soon.
Either way, Watson, Texans fandom, and football fans in general are the victims of a robbery, and we’re all quickly realizing Watson’s full potential was stolen. We may never get it back.
Despite that, the guy is electric, magical, and able to pull off some of the most exciting plays in the game. Hopefully that continues for many years to come...even if it’s as a New England Patriot or another team not residing in H-Town.