Woodson: Watson has been unbelievable
Darren Woodson praises rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson and picks the Texans over the Browns.
BEREA, Ohio -- Hue Jackson would not even test the waters of the Deshaun Watson queries Wednesday.
When Watson's name came up in relation to last year's draft, in which the Cleveland Browns traded the pick that Houston used to take the quarterback, Jackson was pointed about not getting into it.
"It doesn't matter for this reason," Jackson said. "Because whether we did or didn't, that's not the point. The point is we are going to play the Houston Texans in Houston. Here's our football team. We're 0-5 and we're trying to get a football victory, and it doesn't matter.
An NFL.com report shortly after the draft said that Jackson felt Watson was the quarterback in the draft with the best chance to play right away. Jackson, though, preferred safety Malik Hooker, a guy he felt could be another Ed Reed, per NFL.com.
The Browns wound up trading down, giving the Texans the pick they turned into Watson in exchange for Houston's first-round picks in 2017 and '18.
Jackson understood why he was being questioned about Watson. With the Browns winless following a 1-15 season, Jackson has made it known he understands any and all questions about his team will be asked.
"I totally get it," he said. "What did I tell you guys earlier in the week? You guys can say whatever you like. I get it. I get the second-guessing, the questions, all of that. You guys are entitled to do all of that.
"DeShone Kizer is on our team; Deshaun Watson is on their team. We can't all of a sudden flip them. So why are we even having this discussion?"
The key reason, of course, is that the Browns benched their quarterback this week while Watson is playing great for the Texans. He leads the NFL in total touchdowns (14) and is second in passing touchdowns (12). No other rookie quarterback has ever had 10 in his first give games. In four starts, Watson has completed 62.1 percent of his passes for 1,072 yards, with the 12 touchdowns and four interceptions. His rating: 100.7. In its last three games, Houston is averaging 41.6 points.
"He's balling," said Kizer, a good friend of Watson. "He's been balling since we've been 15, since I ever met him. With the targets he has around him, he's going out there and he's making big plays. He's getting all the respect that he deserves.
"That shock and that game that he's brought in these first few weeks of him starting is exactly what I was attempting to do myself. I believe that I was headed in that direction. But in his situation he's been able to make the best of it."
Watson is throwing to DeAndre Hopkins, who is second in the league with 35 catches. The Browns receivers have struggled. But a 41-point average over three games speaks loudly.
There were concerns about Watson in the draft, especially about whether he could adjust quickly from the read-option system at Clemson to the pros. But the Texans have tailored their offense to Watson.
"I'm not shocked at all," rookie safety Jabrill Peppers said. "I kind of expected this from him. We talked a little bit when we [were] at the Heisman. He's doing exactly what I thought he was going to do."
In his final two seasons, Watson had Clemson in the College Football Playoff. They reached the semifinals after the 2015 season and won the title after the 2016 season.
"I think [teams] were trying to over -- what's the word these guys use? -- yeah, they were trying to over-analyze him," Peppers said. "He's a winner."
In a scenario that seems to happen too frequently to the Browns, they now get to face Watson in the same week that they put Kizer on the bench.
"To go down that road and talk about this, that, what could have been or what should have been, that doesn't do anything for anybody," Jackson said.