Pendergast Classic Rewind: Deshaun Watson Era In Houston Begins With Texans' Blowout Against Titans

Sean Pendergast
May 29, 2020 - 6:29 am

(SportsRadio 610) -- In recent history for the Houston Texans, the part that still might feel the most surreal is Deshaun Watson’s rookie year, specifically the six starts that he garnered before tearing his ACL in a an early November practice, finishing his rookie season after just seven games.

And make no mistake, it’s just the parts involving Watson from that year that feel surreal. The parts involving Tom Savage felt all TOO real.

In Deshaun’s six starts, the Texans went 3-3, but very easily could have been 5-1 had Bill O’Brien exercised a sort of logical aggressiveness or game management acumen in close road losses at New England and at Seattle.

That’s remarkable enough, but even more noteworthy was performance of the offense with Watson at the helm. After scoring just 13 points in a win at Cincinnati, Watson was the starting QB for games in which the Texans scored 33, 57, 30, 33, and 38 points in the next five games.

If you’re looking for some perspective, consider that the Texans’ high water mark for points in a game this past season was just 31 points, which they did twice in Kansas City, once in the regular season and once in the postseason. (In one of those games, they allowed just 24 points — YAY! — in the other, 51 points — BOOOOOO!)

So in rewatching the most prolific game of the Watson Era, it is quite surreal (there’s that word again) to watch the ease with which Watson (and to an extent, O’Brien, who was calling plays) dismantle a divisional foe who would end up making the divisional round of the playoffs that season.

If you want to rewatch yourself, here is the full game:

Here are a few observations from the rewatch:

1. One of the more backwards things of the O’Brien/Watson Era is the fact that they tore the ass out of defenses, a few of them very GOOD defenses, with personnel that can’t hold a candle to what they now have, particularly along the offensive line.

On this particular Week 4 Sunday, the Texans’ offensive line, from left to right, was Chris Clark, Xavier Sua-Filo, Nick Martin, Jeff Allen, and Breno Giacomini.

Four of those players were among the worst (if not THE ABSOLUTE WORST) at their positions, and yet Deshaun marched up and down the field like the Germans marching through the Champs Elysees. The two tight ends on that day were Ryan Griffin and Stephen Anderson!

2. Now, that 2017 team still had DeAndre Hopkins, and this 2020 team will not, so every single one of his 10 catches in this game made me very, very sad.

At least three or four fo them were so good that they had me wondering “Who in the hell is making THAT catch this season?” And seemingly all of them were on third down.

Let’s just move on before I light myself on fire.

3. Another wild thing about the Texans’ offense in this game: They were super creative and fun to watch, with all sorts of misdirection and movement in the backfield.

They were running speed options with Deshaun and wide receivers (BRUCE ELLINGTON, YO!). I would love to know why BIll O’Brien went away from some of this stuff.

It’s like the better the personnel has gotten, the less outside the box he’s been thinking. Weird dynamic.

4. Fun stat for which they showed a graphic early in this game — Titans DC Dick LeBeau, who was older than dirt back then, and may have become actual dirt by now, I’m not sure, had a record of 28-4 against rookie QB’s.

The announcers, the great Kevin Harlan and the not-so-great Rich Gannon. were very impressed by this. Then the Titans fell behind 21-0 and it didn’t come up again.

5. Hey, speaking of Gannon, why am I being so hard on him? Well, at one point in this game, with about 5:30 to go in the third quarter and the Texans leading 37-14, his take was for the Titans to not stray from who they are.

“Keep running the football and chip away at the lead.”

WHAT?!?!?!

6. I got to admit, it was quite strange watching Derrick Henry, in his second season, backing up DeMarco Murray and getting just seven yards on six carries. That dynamic eventually changed.

7. This game took place just a month after Hurricane Harvey, so it was a nice reminder about what an awesome person Deshaun Watson is when we got to relive him giving his first weekly NFL paycheck to the cafeteria workers at NRG Stadium. REMINDER: His weekly paychecks are about to get a whole lot bigger.

Keep an eye out for the poll for next week’s Pendergast Classic Rewind game. Stay safe, y’all!