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BRB Group Think: How Valuable Is Deshaun Watson?

Let’s ask a question. Toss some rocks. See how everyone feels.

New England Patriots v Houston Texans Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

BFD and I were in the midst of the hour long conversation that we have once a week, and Deshaun Watson’s value came up. BFD said the Texans would be, like, a zero win team without him. I said they’d have closer to five wins. Bill O’Brien can get the least amount of talent out of a talented roster, he knows how to run an offense around a hideous quarterback, and Romeo Crennel is a witch doctor. So I asked the following question to the BRB staff:

Deshaun Watson is a slam dunk MVP candidate. He won’t win this year because of what Russell Wilson and Lamar Jackson have done this season, but he’s probably the third best candidate out there. Throughout this season, the Texans have been carried by his play—the accuracy, downfield touchdown throws, mobility, the effect he has on the run game. So as a way to review Watson’s MVP candidacy, my question for you is how many games do you think this roster would win over 16 games with AJ McCarron at quarterback instead of Watson?

Here are their responses:


I don’t think there’s a single player in the NFL that transforms his team like Deshaun Watson. If Russell Wilson was kidnapped by aliens, the Seahawks would still be a solid team. If Lamar Jackson finally moved to WR as so many said he should, the Ravens would remain an above average team.

That isn’t the case with Watson. Without him, Bill O’Brien is no longer the coach of the Texans. In fact, Watson finally forced O’Brien to radically change his play-calling and design in order to fit Watson’s skills. I believe BOB’s new found aggressiveness is also based upon Watson’s ability to be a kittening wizard at will. Without Watson, BOB is nothing. Without Watson, so are the Texans.

With AJ McCarron at QB, the Texans would be a two win team, and it’d be the worst football imaginable. Think second half of 2017 horrible.


I don’t think the Texans would be that bad of a team. They’ll be a mediocre team no doubt, but they wouldn’t be as bad as the Redskins, Dolphins, Jets, Lions, Giants, and Jaguars.

I agree that Watson is more valuable to his team than Lamar Jackson is to the Ravens. The Ravens would still be a playoff team without Jackson, while the Texans would be a 5-11 ish team.


I can only get to five max with McCarron at QB. I do not think there is a single game that we lost with Watson that we would have won with McCarron, so I’ll have to pick from the eight games we’ve won so far. I’ve got Jacksonville x 2, Falcons, Raiders, and the Colts game as we get ready for the Broncos.


This is hard to answer, as I’ve always thought McCarron could shine in the right system. But imagining him in B’OB’s system just gives me Tom Savage flashbacks. There’s certainly no way the Texans would have 8 wins at this stage and I highly doubt they would have beaten the Chiefs or Patriots without Deshaun Watson. That right there puts them at 6 wins. Knowing McCarron isn’t nearly as mobile also means the sack numbers would be higher, which translates to more stalled drives, less points and less wins.

I’d say without Watson this is a 6-8 win team at best. With him, it’s a 10-12 win team this year and hopefully a 12-14 win team next year.


This is a tough one. With Watson at the helm, almost no game is out of reach. O’Brien has a very average record each year with pedestrian quarterbacks and can win 7-9 games in any given season; I think he’d likely do the same with McCarron. Houston has enough offensive weapons to help a backup quarterback pull through O’Brien’s game plans, and the defense for 2019 has actually pulled together quite well for a rag-tag collection in the secondary masterfully led by RAC.

I’ll say they win 7 games with McCarron.


I personally believe without Deshaun Watson this team would be a bottom of the league type of squad. I would guess they could win somewhere between 3-5 games. The problem is Deshaun is so special that he covers up a number of deficiencies. For instance, we all know that D-Hop is the best or second-best wide receiver in the league, so he could play with almost any QB and put up great numbers. The other guys we have, though...Will Fuller and Kenny Stills in particular would be much less of a factor with a lesser QB in the game.

I think Houston’s roster overall has a lack of depth. Some of this has been addressed through the flurry of trades BOB made at the beginning of the season, but we still need some players in key spots. If this team lost Deshaun, they simply don’t have enough to be competitive most weeks.


Deshaun Watson is a truly transformative talent. I think the Texans would be a maximum of a 6-7 win team with McCarron at the helm. This may have more to do with the defense playing a bit better than I think we expected due to all the injuries and trashing of top-tier talent.

I just can’t shake my thoughts of Houston’s short-term future. Let’s call it the next 5-8 years. With Deshaun Watson, the sky is the limit - but with Bill O’Brien as the coach, it’s harder than it needs to be. Truth be told, the Texans could still legitimately go deep in the NFL Playoffs depending on the match-ups, but I just feel like a better coach (specifically a better offensive coach and coaching staff) could make Houston an elite team year to year.

But you see the problem. O’Brien is the Devil You Know - a guy who can ride Deshaun’s coattails deep into the playoffs, but isn’t likely to lead you to the ultimate championship goal. Can you really fire that guy? I just don’t think you can, unless the Texans were to have a dominant regular season that is cut short by an abrupt playoff loss. Andy Reid has never won a Super Bowl and has had miserable playoff failures, but with such regular season success, how can you fire him? Bill O’Brien is Andy Reid Light, without the offensive genius. Okay, horrible analogy - but you catch my meaning. This is not a Bill O’Brien post - but I truly believe without Watson at QB this team would only be competitive due to the defense keeping the team in games juuust enough week to week.

Loyal reader, what do you think? How many games would the 2019 Houston Texans win if Deshaun Watson wasn’t their starting quarterback?