Warren Moon may live a couple thousand miles from Houston, but the former Oilers legend keeps an eye on Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson.
Maybe it’s the natural commonality of both of them being African-American quarterbacks in Houston, or the connection the Hall of Famer still feels for the city and its football franchise. But whatever it is, Moon has paid close attention to Watson and he likes the progress he has seen during the three years since the Texans took him No.12 overall in the 2017 NFL Draft.
“I think he has been exceptional, except for the fallback he had with the knee injury that kind of hampered a year of his career, he has been really, really good and hasn’t had a whole lot around him, especially line-wise, where he has taken quite a beating in his first years in the league,” Moon said of Watson in a recent conversation with The Defender Network.
“But he continues to play fearlessly and he doesn’t show any hesitation. A lot of guys who get beat up like that early in their careers will be little frazzled in the pocket and have happy feet and things like that, but he hasn’t shown that. He stands in there and takes the hits.”
Aside from his game-breaking playmaking ability, Watson has displayed a toughness that has impressed Moon. Against the Oakland Raiders last month, Watson was kicked in the eye but still had the wherewithal to complete a critical touchdown pass during the same play. Watson boarded a flight to London a few days later with the eye still injured and led the Texans to a big win over Jacksonville.
Moon believes that with the way Watson is playing and rising to the occasion in key situations, big things could be ahead for the Texans this season.
“To get kicked in the eye last week and still throw a touchdown pass …,” Moon said. “He seems to play his best football at the biggest times of a football game, which is something he did at Clemson and that is what he is continuing to do in Houston.
“He is a guy who is always going to keep them in football games because of how dynamic he is.”
As Watson continues to evolve as a quarterback and as the Texans places more pieces around him, Moon said championships won’t be far behind.
“I think he has scratched the surface but there is definitely a lot of room for him to get better,” Moon said “He really only has one legitimate receiver in DeAndre Hopkins and he gets double teamed a lot. (Will) Fuller is in and out of the lineup a bunch since he has been in the league and Kenny Stills has just got there so he doesn’t have that rapport with him yet. He doesn’t have a great tight end and then the running back position has been kind of hit and miss and there have been injuries there, as well. The kid (Carlos Hyde) they have there now is doing a good job and it’s taken a little while for him to get going.
“But I think once you get all of those pieces together and (Watson) has a chance to really create some continuity with the same guys, that is when you are going to see him really take off because he will have that comfort and familiarity with everybody. That’s what a quarterback needs, he needs the same guys out there every week that he has that chemistry with. That’s when you really start to see him take off.”
Follow Terrance Harris on Twitter @terranceharris.