Culture / Sporting Life

Who Needs Tony Romo?

DeShaun Watson Makes Jerry Jones’ Nightmare Come True After All

BY // 04.28.17

It turns out Tony Romo didn’t just do Jerry Jones a solid when he retired, he also inadvertently blessed the Houston Texans by pushing them to do something better. And against all odds, and every bit of franchise history, the Texans somehow pulled it off on the first night of the NFL Draft.

Bill O’Brien and Rick Smith turned the Romo disappointment into Deshaun Watson.

Instead of having a fragile old quarterback trying to hold on long enough for one title shot, they get the most exciting player in college football, a proven big game quarterback with true crossover star potential. In Deshaun Watson, the Texans finally have their own homegrown version of Tony Romo — one of the most intriguing offensive forces in the game, a quarterback who will dominate national headlines for many a season.

It turns out Jerry Jones’ worst nightmare is coming true anyways. The Texans will be relevant (and dare I say… cool) in ways they’ve never been nationally with Watson at quarterback.

Jerry clearly loathed (and feared) the idea of Romo joining the Texans and making Houston’s team a huge NFL story. Now, the Texans have a marquee quarterback who could be as big a star — and talking point — as Romo for a decade. Too bad, Jerry.

On an unexpectedly brilliant Houston draft night, the Texans pulled off their most shocking trade since… well, since forever. For the entire 15 year existence of this franchise, things have been run as conservatively as they are at IBM. A staid, risk-adverse, corporate culture largely defined Bob McNair’s operations. But on this Draft Night, the Texans finally went bold. They reached for a star — and grabbed him.

All it took were two first round picks (the Texans’ original No. 25 selection in this year’s draft and their first pick in next year’s draft) to move up to No. 12 for Watson. Well that and the second and sixth round picks it took to hoist Brock Osweiler onto the Cleveland Browns (the Texans also got a fourth round selection back in that trade). That is a lot for anything but a real quarterback.

And that’s what the Texans finally have with Deshaun Watson — a star to believe in at the one position in football that overrules everything else.

Sure, there are risks with any draft pick (or signing). But Deshaun Watson is the most educated risk an NFL team can take. It is borderline absurd that the one college football player who drove Alabama’s NFL pro-filled defense crazy the last two years even fell to the No. 12 pick in the draft.

There’s a reason Bill Simmons, the New England Patriots’ most crazed media backer, tweeted out, “I’m scared of the 2017 Texans” in the immediate aftermath of the Watson move.

Yes, Watson threw a few too many interceptions in Clemson’s smaller games. But what he did on the big stage is absolutely breathtaking. Watson pulled off the most electrifying national championship game performance since Vince Young. But Watson did not rely on his legs and sheer athleticism anywhere close to as much as Young did. He beat Nick Saban with his arm and his mind, completing 64 percent of his passes against the most feared monster in college football. This is no college football-limited Tim Tebow quarterback either.

Watson’s career fourth quarter statistics? Sixteen touchdowns and only two interceptions.

This man is as clutch as Brock Osweiler is porcelain dolled. “The guy came through when the chips were down,” O’Brien says of the quarterback who will now determine the talented coach’s Houston legacy.

Watson is only 21, but he already knows just what to say. Like all the truly uber successful quarterbacks in the NFL seem to know. Minutes after he’s drafted, Watson tells ESPN, “It’s amazing. I’m telling myself not to cry, but I can’t hold it back.” Of course, that’s not as important as what Watson told O’Brien in their last face-to-face pre-draft meeting. The 21-year-old noted to his coach-to-be that he knows the most important piece to a championship team is the head coach-quarterback relationship.

You can be sure that Watson will never accuse O’Brien of holding him “hostage” because of a heated locker room meeting. Watson had a super close relationship with Clemson coach Dabo Swinney and he’ll embrace the more fiery and temperamental O’Brien too.

Yes, O’Brien is already insisting that Tom Savage will still start. But everyone (Savage included) knows that is only temporary. The only question is at what point during the season will Watson take over. You can be sure it will be well before the Watt brothers’ heartwarming Christmas reunion.

The Texans finally have a shooting star at the most important position in football. Watson’s college exploits do not guarantee him pro success, but they do mean he’ll walk into Houston’s locker room with an immediate respect factor that most rookies can only dream of.

You can be sure Watson will take over well before the Watt brothers’ heartwarming Christmas reunion.

You don’t have to be a fellow Clemson product (like overjoyed and soon-to-be revitalized Texans receiving star DeAndre Hopkins) to know that Deshaun Watson is not just another rookie quarterback. Every one in football understands what he did to Alabama.

The Texans won the draft and stole the headlines on day one (with apologies to the San Francisco 49ers who absolutely fleeced this clueless Chicago Bears’ regime). They reached for a star. Finally.

“I had conviction on this young man,” Smith, the often discounted general manager, says of Watson.

Just like that, the Texans are one of the NFL’s most compelling stories. For this season — and many more to come.

Sorry Jerry. Sometimes, you can’t stave off the nightmare. No matter what you try.

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