HOUSTON -- When Bill O’Brien was asked yet another question about the historic start Deshaun Watson has had to his NFL career, he hesitated.
The Houston Texans head coach knows he has a special quarterback under center, but he was quick to note that despite the success Watson has had, the rookie is still only 22 and has a long way to go.
“I always get concerned about answering these questions, because I agree with you. He’s done a really good job for a 22-year-old guy, but I mean, it gets harder and harder,” O’Brien said. “The more you put things on film, the more you have to adjust.”
Through 4½ games, Watson already sits seventh on the franchise’s all-time passing touchdown list with 12 and trails only Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers by one touchdown for the NFL season lead in that department.
But although it’s only going to get tougher for the rookie, O’Brien said, “if anybody can adjust and anybody can adapt, it’s him.”
“Being around him for the time that I’ve been around him, like I’ve always said, he’s very smart, very poised and he’s got a good instinct for the game,” O’Brien said. “So we just got to keep working day by day to get better.”
O’Brien has seen Watson not only adjust and improve week to week, but over the course of a game as well.
“He’s able to take the correction and learn from it, whether it’s a coverage tip that we can learn from, whether it’s some Mike point that we need to correct,” O’Brien said. “Whatever it is, he looks at you, he nods his head and he rarely makes the same mistake twice.”
Quarterbacks coach Sean Ryan not only reminds Watson that his success will get more difficult the more film teams get on him, but that he also tries to focus on the defensive coordinators Watson will be facing.
“I talk to him more about the ... schemes that they’re going to bring to the table and in our minds how we see them attacking our offense and what challenges that’ll create for him,” Ryan said. “And that changes a little bit week to week. Some guys [are] more aggressive, some guys [are] kind of sitting back and just watching him and reacting that way.
“But certainly I think that there’s always an emphasis by our offensive coaching staff to let him know that the hay’s never in the barn and every week you have to be ready for the challenges that are going to come. And he’s aware of that. He does a good job of understanding that, so it helps that he’s a level-headed guy about it.”
Regardless of how much more challenging it gets, Watson said his goal is to simply “try to get 1 percent better each and every day” regardless of how much film teams have on him.
“At the end of the day, the film’s going to be out there and you just try to build on your strengths and your weaknesses,” Watson said. “You just have to go out there and execute. At the end of the day, it’s a one-on-one matchup, and who is going to win that matchup?”