HOUSTON -- Deshaun Watson has set rookie and NFL records left and right through the first six games of his NFL career, and although the quarterback has impressed people all around the NFL, wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins said he “expected” this from the rookie all along.
“From training camp when he came in and the way he handled himself in the film room, even when in training camp he wasn’t getting reps with the ones, he was still learning,” Hopkins said. “He was still going over things, talking about it to us when he got the opportunity, and it’s presented itself.
“Nobody in this locker room is honestly surprised with the way he’s developed so far.”
Watson threw three touchdown passes in the Texans’ 33-17 victory over the Cleveland Browns and now holds the rookie record for passing touchdowns by a rookie through six games since the NFL-AFL merger.
The Texans have set a franchise record with four straight games scoring 30 or more points, a far cry from the offense that did not score 30 points in a single game last season. It’s a change from the Texans teams in the past that relied on a powerful defense. Now head coach Bill O’Brien is telling his players that they “should never be shocked when we put up those type of points.”
O’Brien, who took over playcalling this season, said he has been able to open up the offense with Watson under center.
“He’s a really good ball handler,” O’Brien said. “I think that’s one of the things we noticed about his skill set right away coming out of college was how good he was at simple, little things that really add up to a successful play. Just the ability to hand the ball off and make it look like you’re handing off to somebody else or carrying out a fake or whatever he does.
“He really tries to perfect every single play. That’s the mentality he has, which is almost impossible to do. He’s a very, very good ball handler, and I think that’s something that we’ve tried to take advantage of, and we have to continue to change that up.”
It isn't only Watson’s teammates who have noticed. Browns cornerback Jason McCourty, who intercepted Watson early in the fourth quarter and returned it for a touchdown, said he talked to Hopkins during the game and told him, “Watson has made a huge difference in the offense.” McCourty was used to seeing the Texans' offense when he played for the division rival Tennessee Titans.
“They look like a totally different offense with him,” McCourty said. “He has a lot of ability. His ability to extend plays. He can throw the ball from the pocket. You can tell he’s a really good young quarterback. He doesn’t look like a rookie.”
This new-look Texans' offense has a new mindset.
“Every time we step on the field, we want to score,” Hopkins said. “If we don’t, then we’re disappointed. We don’t settle for three.
“We know with the ball in No. 4’s [Watson] hands, anything is possible.”