Forget what Patrick Mahomes is doing in Kansas City. Forget Drew Brees and his continued excellence after all these years. Forget what both Jared Goff and Todd Gurley are doing for the undefeated Rams.
Okay. Don’t actually forget them. They are incredible and deserve praise.
With that being said, the dinner table for this season’s most valuable player candidates just got a new guest. His name is Deshaun Watson. He is here now, and I expect him to be seated at this table for the majority of the next decade.
Thursday night’s win at home against the Miami Dolphins was must-see television. The second-year quarterback made big play after big play. He finished 16-20 with 239 yards, 5 touchdowns, and a 156.0 passer rating. He was a man amongst children as he led the Texans to their fifth consecutive victory. He extended several plays with his legs, including a fourth-and-goal touchdown to Jordan Thomas that was a thing of beauty. The way this man maneuvers around with his legs, shrugs off defenders, and finds the open receiver is reminiscent of Madden ‘04 Michael Vick.
Alright. Maybe that is an exaggeration.
Deshaun Watson is like a cross between Cam Newton and Russell Wilson. What more can you say? He is athletic, strong, mobile, and quick. It’s unfair.
Watson is the reason the Texans have recovered from an 0-3 start to win five in a row. He’s the reason they’re leading their division and emerging as a real contender in the AFC. Watson has been gutsy. He has been clutch. He is the leader of this team. The guys go to war for him and whenever #4 is on the field, the rest of the Texans know and believe they can win.
This is a 23-year old quarterback coming off an ACL tear. Right now, he is playing with a cracked rib and a bruised lung, injuries so dangerous that the Texans made him take a bus to Jacksonville two weeks ago because they were concerned he would not be able to handle the air pressure from flying with the team. Watson cannot even laugh without feeling a sharp pain, but instead of taking the time off to recover, he goes out onto the field behind a makeshift offensive line and rallies the troops.
Watson is on pace for over 4,000 yards passing, 30 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions. The turnovers are a little high, but he is a gunslinger. He is a big play quarterback. That style of play is how he finished runner-up in the Heisman Award voting twice. It’s what beat Alabama in the National Championship Game, and it is why the Texans moved up to select him with the twelfth pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. It is why a Thursday Night Football game with Brock Osweiler playing for the other team was one of the most entertaining games of the 2018 season so far.
To place a title such as Most Valuable Player on a player after one game is an overreaction. But it was not just this game that makes Watson’s case. It was just this game that displayed on national television how special of a player he is, and it should make fans question how ten other teams passed up on a pot of gold (the eleventh team being the Kansas City Chiefs, who may well have gotten their own superstar quarterback in Patrick Mahomes).
Houston fans were treated to an incredible six-and-a-half game stretch last season when Watson was taking the league by storm before he tore his ACL n practice. He had people mentioning his name for MVP then, as a rookie. Right now, we are seeing Watson’s growth. We are seeing maturity, leadership, smart decision-making, and an assassin under center. Most importantly, we’re seeing a man who continues to be the savior of an organization that has never had a true franchise quarterback... sorry, Matt Schaub.
Most teams that start 0-3 would be dead in the water. Not this team. They are tough, resilient, and have the pedigree to challenge other worthy foes in the AFC. It’s no coincidence that the Texans have never found themselves in this position until they got Deshaun Watson.
The other candidates for MVP have been incredible, and they deserve respect. Patrick Mahomes, Drew Brees, Jared Goff, Todd Gurley, and Philip Rivers have all been excellent. It will be difficult for Watson to jump over them, but he is working on improving his vertical right before our very eyes.
It is starting to look like this league is Deshaun’s dinner table, and the other guys are just eating at it.