Rookie quarterbacks are supposed to play like Mitchell Trubisky or DeShone Kizer. Make a few plays to remind everyone why they’re starting, make many more mistakes and generally get a rough NFL indoctrination. Almost all rookies struggle. The hope is for better days ahead.
Deshaun Watson’s good days are already here. It seems like greater days are ahead. The list of the best rookie quarterbacks ever includes, in some order: Dan Marino, Russell Wilson, Ben Roethlisberger, Robert Griffin III, Cam Newton and Dak Prescott. Watson is already on that list.
The most amazing part of Watson’s rookie season might be that the Texans thought Tom Savage was a better option in Week 1. Or it could be that 11 teams passed on Watson and the Cleveland Browns traded the 12th pick that the Texans used on Watson (poor Browns). Watson won’t have the crazy touchdown-to-interception ratio of Prescott, lead his team to a great record like Roethlisberger or have some of the other historic numbers Griffin put up, but he might end up having the best rookie season of them all.
If you watched Sunday’s classic Seattle Seahawks-Texans game, you saw one of the best regular-season games in recent memory. You also saw Watson go blow-for-blow with Wilson, a Super Bowl champion who has been among the best quarterbacks in the NFL for years. Wilson dragged Seattle to a 41-38 win, but that’s no slight on Watson, who looked nothing like a rookie and he didn’t give an inch to Wilson or the Seahawks. He became the first player in NFL history with 400 passing yards, four touchdowns and 50 rushing yards in a game. He’s also the second rookie to have three games with four passing touchdowns, joining Fran Tarkenton in 1961.
Watson was given a tough assignment in his first start early this season, on the road with only three days to prepare for a Thursday night game against the Cincinnati Bengals. He mostly struggled in that game, but had one electric touchdown run that led to a win. In the five games since then he has been prolific. Over his last five games, Watson has 1,472 passing yards, 18 passing touchdowns to seven interceptions, with 186 rushing yards and a score on the ground. That’s 294.4 passing yards and 3.6 touchdowns per game since that challenging start at Cincinnati. Many veteran quarterbacks go their entire career without a stretch like that.
Theoretically, Watson could crater the rest of the season, and instead of celebrating his rookie season for years to come we’ll look back at the first half of it with curiosity. That doesn’t seem likely. If there were any questions about Watson before Sunday, he answered them. Seattle has an intimidating crowd and an already-legendary secondary. The Texans were a team dealing with off-field turmoil. It would have surprised nobody if Watson struggled and the Texans lost. Instead, Watson made history.
How did so many people in the NFL miss on Watson? Looking back, perhaps too much was made about his arm strength (which looks fine so far with the Texans) and not enough was made about how great he was at Clemson. Watson’s biggest knock was that he doesn’t have a huge arm. His throws were clocked at 49 miles per hour at the scouting combine. Very few quarterbacks <a href="https://twitter.com/MontelNFL/status/840338967392342018" rel="nofollow noopener"…