Deshaun Watson is upset. Everyone knows why he is upset. The Texans promised to let him weigh in on the general manager and head coach search, but until requesting an interview with Eric Bienemy (who they can’t interview until after the Kansas City Chiefs season ends) yesterday, the Texans failed to fulfill that promise. This, plus the ongoing cult of Jack Easterby dominating the direction of the franchise, has Watson angry and frustrated over his career and the direction of the franchise.
Since then, Andre Johnson and other former Texans have weighed in, telling the young franchise quarterback so stand his ground and not give into whatever cultural nonsense or dysfunction the team is continuing to hurdle. This saga is neverending. With that being said, ESPN’s “NFL experts” have shared their thoughts about what Houston should do to improve their relationship with Deshaun Watson. Here are their answers:
Matt Bowen, NFL analyst: Improve the lines of communication with Watson. From an organizational standpoint, the Texans can be more transparent in terms of their top targets at the head-coaching position, with a goal of maximizing the Texans during Watson’s prime playing years.
Jeremy Fowler, national NFL writer: Stop making promises you don’t keep. If the central issue is Watson was told he’d be involved in the hiring process of a general manager and head coach, then wasn’t consulted at all, maybe stop doing that. Make him a part of the interview process with your top head-coaching candidate — get them on a whiteboard together, drawing up possibilities on the field — to get positive vibes reestablished. Then get the man some playmakers on offense via free agency. There are a dozen marquee pass-catchers who would instantly improve the attack.
Dan Graziano, national NFL writer: Re-sign WR Will Fuller V. Look, this is an accumulation of stuff with Watson and the organization, right? They traded DeAndre Hopkins last season, and Watson still managed to make the offense work with Fuller, Brandin Cooks and Randall Cobb. If you aren’t going to bring in the coach he wants, signing free-agent Fuller (who might even come at a slight discount given his injury history and still-current drug suspension) is an olive branch that tells Watson you won’t keep making it tougher on him.
Jason Reid, The Undefeated senior NFL writer: Give Watson significant input in the head-coaching search. Regardless of whether there’s simply a good-faith misunderstanding between team CEO Cal McNair and Watson or McNair badly erred in misleading the organization’s franchise QB, this much is clear: The Texans are in an awful place and need to get out of it. Quickly. Mending fences with Watson should top the Texans’ to-do list — even ahead of hiring a new HC. Watson just completed his age-25 season. In terms of passers in the league in Watson’s age bracket who possess similar talent, one can count them on one hand. In terms of the future of their franchise, the Texans must get back to being on the same page with Watson. Or something as close to it as possible.
Seth Walder, sports analytics writer: Don’t just interview Eric Bieniemy. Hire him. He’s a great coaching candidate, first off. But also there’s this: Projecting head-coaching performance is a process filled with uncertainty. Even if Bieniemy isn’t Houston’s first choice, the difference between what the Texans would expect from him and what the Texans would expect from their first choice — whoever that might be — surely is smaller than the difference between Watson and, well, not having Watson.
Field Yates, NFL analyst: They just did it, by requesting to interview Bieniemy. Maybe it’s too little, too late. Maybe an interview with Bienemy would not amount to an offer. That’s fine. The Texans need to take any and all steps to work to appease their quarterback, and it’s not a mystery that Watson respects the work Bienemy has done in Kansas City. This doesn’t solve everything — far from it — but it’s just one of several steps the team can take to work to smooth things over.
They also list teams like the Dolphins, Washington Football Team, 49ers, Patriots, and Jets as potential landing spots in a Watson trade. That doesn’t matter. The only thing that does is keeping Deshaun Watson in Houston.