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Wearing a Princess Leia silk-screened T-shirt in an NFL locker room takes a little guts. But Houston Texans tailback Lamar Miller, the proud owner of said shirt, will tell you he has nothing on his rookie quarterback.
“He just has swag,” Miller says appreciatively of Deshaun Watson. Miller happens to be one of the toughest running backs in the NFL, but just like Jadeveon Clowney, Johnathan Joseph, J.J. Watt and all the rest of these wowed Texans, he cannot help but genuflect to the 22-year-old who’s brought offensive fun — and real hope — to Houston’s football franchise.
Texans 57, Flabbergasted Tennessee Titans 14. And in this third NFL start ever, Deshaun Watson goes nuclear. There may be no more fitting way to describe what Watson does on the most explosive offense day the Texans have ever had. He accounts for five touchdowns (tying an all-time NFL rookie record), goes 8-for-8 on third down passing to open the game — and turns the Texans into the NFL’s version of Mike D’Antoni’s Rockets offense on grass.
That’s not just swag. That’s downright brilliance.
Remember when the Dallas Cowboys Dak Prescott looked like the best rookie quarterback we’d ever see last season? Three and half games into his NFL career, Deshaun Watson is already better than Prescott. And if you don’t think that matters in a world where Texas football rules, you’re naive. And no Jerry Jones, who protects the Cowboys’ myth and mystique at all costs.
Watson is certainly much more exciting than Prescott will ever be. And the now 2-2 Texans certainly already depend on Watson more than the Cowboys ever needed to truly lean on Prescott last season. The Cowboys’ offensive line and running game largely carried Prescott last season.
Watson is the engine that propels these Texans. Already.
“We’ve never had this kind of offense before,” Texans owner Bob McNair says, outside the buzzing Texans locker room afterwards. “We’ve had some offenses that were pretty good, but I mean — what was the final? Fifty seven points? We’ve never scored fifty seven points before.
“That sounds more like a basketball game. I just think that was remarkable.”
McNair wore a blue Texans baseball cap, with a giant white bandage completely covering his entire right ear. And he looked as happy as Will Ferrell’s Elf on Christmas. It’s easy to see the Texans players taking some inspiration from their tough owner too. Now, McNair finally sees a quarterback capable of pushing Houston into the Super Bowl in the not-so-distant future.
The 57 points shatter the Texans franchise record for most points in a game. They beat the Titans — most so-called NFL experts’ trendy pick to win the AFC South, those so-called smash-mouth football warriors — by 43.
Yes, it may be time to recalibrate everything you ever known about the Houston Texans.
Houston hasn’t called one of the most exciting players in the NFL its own since Arian Foster’s somewhat-wasted prime. They certainly have never had a star (and yes, he’s already a star as an age 22 NFL rookie) like Deshaun Watson.
“He has a lot of confidence,” Texans receiver Bruce Ellington says. “And we believe in him too.”
Some of us saw this in the very first few days of training camp in the West Virginia mountains. Almost everyone else has caught up by now.
Deshaun Watson’s Beautiful Mind
Someone owes Dabo Swinney an apology. Or I should say, a lot of someones. The Cleveland Browns’ entire organization, which never even considered taking Watson No. 1 in the draft, might as well start sending sorry cards in mass.
For Watson humiliates the Titans with his mind as much as his arm on this beautiful sunny Sunday in Houston.
“He’s a very smart guy,” says Texans coach Bill O’Brien, who deserves credit for never looking back after he rightly pulled Tom Savage after one horrific half against Jacksonville. “These guys, they believe in him. He works very hard. He’s got a fantastic way about him. He’s a humble kid, was raised the right way and he works very hard. He’s got great questions. He’s got great suggestions.
“He’s got a good mind for a lot of different things, not just football.”
Watson and his prime targets — DeAndre Hopkins (10 catches for 107 yards and a touchdown) and newly activated second-year wideout Will Fuller (four catches, two touchdowns) — leave the Titans secondary looking as befuddled and clueless as someone who tried to follow a Phil Sims game broadcast. They’re playing games with them.
Watson drops passes into receivers arms. He completes tricky sideline throws (one to Fuller looks like an unremarkable 6-yarder, but it’s a drive saver). He takes shots downfield.
The Texans put up some points with Matt Schaub and Gary Kubiak. But they’ve never had a difference maker like this at quarterback.
Remember, this is Deshaun Watson’s third career NFL start. You can bet Swinney, the Clemson coach mocked for comparing Watson to Michael Jordan, is smiling today. The Texans don’t just suddenly have a future. They have one of the most exciting offenses in the NFL.
“If they’re not,” Ellington says when asked if he thinks other NFL teams are taking notice of the Texans’ rookie QB, “they better take notice.”
Deshaun Watson isn’t going anywhere. He’s just getting better. That’s more than swag. That’s a new era.