It’s a weird feeling when you feel sorry for someone who is earning nearly $40million a year. Someone who had the honour of playing at one of the best college football programmes of the last decade and is now living the dream, playing in the NFL week-in week-out. But that’s how a lot of us are feeling towards Deshaun Watson this season.
Drafted in the first round in 2017, Watson is still only 25-years-old, and yet he is in serious danger of having his career wasted by the lacklustre Houston Texans organisation.
It’s something we’ve seen all too often. Outrageously talented quarterbacks get stuck in an unfavourable situation and spend their careers fighting for a team that really isn’t giving them any help.
Watson has really taken a step up this year. For the first three years of his career, the Clemson product proved to be insanely gifted, but inconsistent. There was always something bringing him back from being considered an ‘elite’ player. This year, though, he has been able to string a run of form together and has cemented himself in the top tier of quarterbacks in the NFL. In 2020, only Patrick Mahomes, Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers have played better than the Houston signal caller. Yet, going into week 13, the Texans sit at 4-7 and are pretty much out of the playoff race already.
So how do they change it? How do the Texans turn this around?
Well, it starts with the coach. All respect to Bill O’Brien, but his last couple of years as the head coach were marred by his actions as general manager. The Texans need a clean slate. There are plenty of good potential head coaches out there, Eric Bienemy the most notable. While he will be highly sought after this offseason, Houston may be able to land him. The prospect of coaching Watson makes the Texans quite an appealing job.
Once that is sorted, the roster needs a big boost in talent. Pretty much every area of the field could do with an upgrade, but skill positions should be the first port of call. After trading away DeAndre Hopkins in the offseason, the wide receiver room at NRG Stadium is average at best. Chicago Bears receiver, Allen Robinson could become a free agent this offseason, and Texans fans should get excited about the prospect of having him for Watson to throw to.
Next comes the offensive line. A few seasons ago this was the main cause for concern in Houston. However, giving up a king’s ransom for Laremy Tunsil at the start of last season has paid off, and they now have a franchise left tackle to build around. The 2021 offensive line free agent class is full of talent. Joe Thuney, Brandon Scherff and Corey Linsley are all on the list, among others. Admittedly, most of the top players will be resigned by their current team, but not all. If the Texans can find at least one starting lineman this offseason, they will make life a lot easier for their young quarterback.
“Look, in the NFL, there are no half measures when you’re trying to win a Super Bowl. Say what you want about their off-season, but the @HoustonTexans got better this weekend. Tunsil is a top 5 tackle and Bill O’Brien is protecting the most sacked QB in the league.” – @PSchrags pic.twitter.com/qXZRmYgs1q— GMFB (@gmfb) September 2, 2019
Finally, we come to the defence. Only the Seattle Seahawks and the Jacksonville Jaguars have given up more yards this season than the Texans. This is something that needs to be fixed through both free agency and the draft. Cornerback, safety, linebacker and defensive line will all be positions of need in Houston this offseason. The front office should take plenty of swings at all four of these positions in order to find decent starters.
Overall, if they do it right, the Houston Texans could turn this ship around within the next couple of years. Of course, the Superbowl is the final goal, and they’re a long way off that yet, but everything is made easier when you have an elite player under centre like Deshaun Watson.
Read last week’s column by clicking here.