Deshaun Watson Not Caught Up In Matchup With Lamar Jackson

Brandon Scott
November 06, 2019 - 2:09 pm

HOUSTON (SportsRadio 610) — It won’t be the first time Deshaun Watson and Lamar Jackson headlined a football game.

The two quarterbacks played against each other twice as ACC opponents, with Watson’s No. 5 Clemson team edging out Jackson’s No. 3 Louisville squad in a shootout just three years ago.

Now, both of them are legitimate MVP candidates in the NFL, and lead AFC teams atop their respective divisions. 

When the Texans and Ravens play in Baltimore on Nov. 17, the Watson-Jackson matchup will carry even more hype than the October 2016 showdown at Death Valley, which lived up to the hype.

The Ravens have a running scheme centered around Jackson that’s unlike anything else in the league. 

The Texans are having success with a run-pass option scheme centered around Watson’s uncanny feel for the game.

These could very well be the future faces of the league, along with last year’s MVP Patrick Mahomes.

But Watson said he won’t be caught up in the quarterback conversation leading up to the game.

“That’s more for the media to hype up,” Watson said Tuesday. “My job is to make sure I have the best execution and preparation for that game and getting ready for that defense and that environment and that everyone on this team is healthy and ready to go, not so much of me and Lamar.

“You know, I have so much respect for him. Ever since college, we’ve been boys since then. We’ve been going against each other each and every year. So, of course it’s going to be hyped up, talked about. But it’s nothing that I’ll be focused on. My focus is the Houston Texans and what we can do to go in there and try to win.”

Jackson ‘playing at a different speed’

The Texans have not allowed a 100-yard rusher in 25 straight regular season games dating back to Week 1 of 2018. They held the Jaguars to just 74 rushing yards on 15 carries and a long of 11 yards. 

But the Ravens are leading the NFL in total rushing by almost 300 yards. 

They run for an astonishing 204.9 yards a game, led by their quarterback Jackson, who sits just outside the league’s top 10 in rushing with 637 yards on 99 carries.

The next productive running quarterback is Arizona rookie Kyler Murray, who ranks 36th with 313 yards on 56 carries. 

Simply put: Jackson is playing a different game at a different speed.

Texans defensive line coach Anthony Weaver joked it might take nitrous oxide buttons to try to catch Jackson.

“He looks like he’s playing at a different speed than everybody,” Weaver said. “Anytime you play an offense like that, it definitely comes down to team defense and guys just doing the simple things with elite discipline. And I think as long as you can do that as a defense, you always give yourself a chance.”

In the Ravens’ win against the Patriots on Sunday Night Football, Jackson had almost as many carries (16) as pass completions (17). He also had two rushing touchdowns, more than anyone else rushing or passing in the game.

“The speed is always a huge challenge,” defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel said. “If you can match speed, then you’ve got a chance. If you cannot match the speed, then you’re outnumbered. So we’re going to have to try to match the speed because everybody doesn’t run 4.3 (seconds in 40-yard dash). So we’re going to have to put some stones in the way and hopefully he can trip over a stone or something like that. 

“But it’ll be a good challenge for us. We’re looking forward to it.”

Great job with scheme

Bill O’Brien spoke highly of Jackson’s skillset - his poise, throwing ability and obviously the speed. 

It’s not just Jackson, though. Mark Ingram is right behind him rushing. 

Their blocking has been tremendous. Football Outsiders ranked the Ravens offensive line as the seventh-best in the NFL. 

“They’re doing a great job with their scheme. Lamar Jackson is an excellent player,” O’Brien said. “They’re scheme is very difficult. They take advantage of the players that they have, led by Lamar, (Mark) Ingram, using their tight ends. Their offensive line is big and physical.”

Texans defensive backs coach Anthony Midget played with Michael Vick at Virginia Tech. 

He’s seen speed kill at the quarterback position. 

It’s not like Jackson is the first mobile quarterback. 

“He’s probably the closest thing to Vick as far as from an explosive standpoint and what he can do with his legs and from the pocket,” Midget said.

What’s different is how the Ravens are using him.

Running quarterbacks usually are not runners, but like Watson, use their legs to extend plays. Jackson does that, but he is also used intentionally and specifically in the run game. 

“That’s a double-whammy on you,” Crennel said. “You have to be able to defend him as a runner and you have to be able to defend him as a quarterback who can run. All of those dynamics together make him tough to defend.”