For this week’s GroupThink, I asked the masthead where they would rank Deshaun Watson. These are their answers.
This is a difficult question. Are we talking from a talent perspective, or are we talking about from a results perspective? Because Deshaun Watson has had to play in Bill O’Brien’s “run-heavy, tight-end read option into the flat, force-feed DeAndre Hopkins to convert on third downs, and use play-action to take manufactured deep crossing deep shots” offense.
From a talent perspective, I would have Watson fifth. I’d place him behind Patrick Mahomes, Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers, Lamar Jackson. If we’re talking about production, Deshaun falls to around tenth. Yes, last season, Watson was less efficient than Ryan Tannehill, Jimmy Garoppolo, and even Kirk Cousins.
Hopefully, Houston’s 2020 offense meets these summer dreams and all that offseason speed comes to fruition. For two seasons now, Bill O’Brien should have based his offense around Watson’s vertical passing ability instead of Carlos Hyde’s ability to get three yards a carry.
I think I’d keep Watson where he is.
Patrick Mahomes is an easy #1. He’s literally the half-billion dollar man. He’s a Super Bowl MVP. All of this before the age of 25. He does things that other quarterbacks just don’t do. He deserves to be the highest ranked quarterback. Mahomes, Deshaun Watson, and Lamar Jackson are the future of the NFL. The kids seem to be alright. That being said, the adults are still in the room.
Russell Wilson is a threat any time he steps on the turf. He’s still has elite athleticism and comes with plenty of big game experience. When it comes to being clutch, Wilson is one of the last opposing quarterbacks you’d want to see (except at the goal line during the Super Bowl).
Aaron Rodgers has the weakest grip on his lead over Watson. He’s fully leaned into the wily veteran role, much to his dismay. He’s got ice in his veins, but it seems that Father Time is starting to catch up to him. Mentally, he’s still one of the top guys around. Physically, we’ll just have to see.
Watson is solid at #4. He doesn’t have the playoff success of his elders, but he has so much untapped potential. He’s the future of the franchise and the pillar to build this team around. Deshaun keeps the Texans competitive in any game. Lamar Jackson is hot on his tail for this spot, but I think Watson does more in a worse situation.
Watson is certainly elite. His game-changing abilities are unquestionable and his accuracy is much better than expected. We are all waiting for the day where he is truly unleashed and goes off on a team. However just like his demeanor, he is more smooth than excitable.
Watson has to begin to build his resume in the postseason. The other three quarterbacks on this list ahead of Watson have already won a Super Bowl. Watson has yet to make it to the AFC Championship Game.
The top of ESPN’s list leaves off Lamar Jackson. I think he will return to Earth this season and be simply elite, but for now, he’s still above Watson.
I’ll also throw in Drew Brees in there above Watson. His arm talent still is among the best ever to play the game. Michael Thomas was key to Brees’s 2019 season, but the Saints did move away from Brees to manage his workload. I think I “trust” Brees to win a game right now more than Watson. I also think that Watson has a much higher chance of being injured, which is a major factor in his abilities.
Here’s my ranking:
1. Patrick Mahomes
2. Aaron Rodgers
3. Russel Wilson
4. Lamar Jackson
5. Drew Brees
6. Deshaun Watson
7. Carson Wentz
8. Tom Brady
9. Jameis Winston (KIDDING) Jimmy Garoppolo
10. Jared Goff
People were throwing shade at Deshaun Watson leading up to the draft, with some campaigning to undermine his potential with pitch speed stats and other stuff that’s been a non-factor to date. Those same haters are the ones dogging him now for playing too much yard ball and not reading a defense the way Peyton Manning could.
But ya know what? That same cacophony of crap rose up around another all-time great quarterback with a lot of the same skills, abilities, and X-factor traits Watson has: Brett Favre. The very same skills people trashed in Favre are what made him so exciting to watch.
We can grind out metrics, debate stats, finger through the minutia of measurables and all that, but at the end of the day, the NFL is entertainment. The quarterback is the captain of the ship, and watching Deshaun play is one of the most entertaining things happening in NFL circles these days.
With all that in mind, I’d place Watson firmly in third place. Patrick Mahomes is the undeniable king of the hill right now, and Lamar Jackson is seriously super-human. Sure, the old guard is still hanging in there, with Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers doing great things, not to mention what may come of Tom Brady in Tampa Bay. But that generation of passers has had their day in the sun. It’s time for Mahomes, Jackson, and Watson to rule the league and I for one, can’t wait to see more of it.
I think the fourth spot is pretty spot-on for Watson. With more experience, better coaching, and additional weapons, I could easily see him climb to the top. Pat Mahomes for sure is all that he’s proven to be, but he was also fortunate to land in a spot that immediately maximized his potential, surrounded him with elite weaponry, etc.
Deshaun Watson’s situation is decidedly different. Though the Texans do have some dangerous talent around him, Watson’s best weapon was traded, his offensive line has been in flux every year (which I understand is not uncommon), and the supposed offensive guru/GM/head coach has proven to be anything but. In fact, the only visible glimmer that O’Brien is the brilliant offensive tactician he was advertised to be only appeared once Deshaun Watson came into his life.
Oh, right, this post is about Deshaun Watson. Yes, fourth I think is pretty much a perfect spot for him. He will continue to improve, and he may very well drag his coach along with him.
What about you? Where would you rank the Texans’ franchise quarterback?