So far, it’s a season of repeats for the Texans as they head into Week 2.
Another elite AFC opponent and another dynamic young African-American quarterback for Deshaun Watson to be compared to. Last week it was Patrick Mahomes and the defending Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs.
Now, the Texans are preparing to slow the speeding train otherwise known as Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens. The NFL schedulers have certainly done Watson and the Texans no favors out of the gate.
“At the end of the day that’s what it’s all about. You’re going up against the best,” said Texans coach Bill O’Brien, whose 0-1 team will host the Ravens in an empty NRG Stadium on Sunday. We were a playoff team last year; we played the Super Bowl champs last week and now we’re playing a team that was 14-2 last year.
“I think it’s really, though, when you boil it down in football terms, it’s Deshaun and our offense versus their defense and then it’s Lamar (Jackson) and his offense versus our defense. Obviously when you look at it from a fan perspective and from a league perspective, when you have great quarterbacks going against each other, it’s really good.”
For a second straight season, we are being treated to a showdown between Watson and Jackson. So far, Jackson has the edge, having led the Ravens to a 41-7 rout of Texans in Baltimore last November. And if last week was any indication, the Ravens offense could be even more lethal with Jackson under the controls.
Jackson shredded the Cleveland Browns defense for 275 yards and three touchdowns on an efficient 20 of 25 passing during a 38-6 season-opening win in Baltimore. Jackson has been considered so unstoppable because of the plays he can make with his legs, but last week against Cleveland it was his arm and the ability to hit receivers in stride that was so impressive.
“He’s doing a great job for his team and the offense that they’re doing,” Watson said of Jackson’s season-opening showing. “Making sure they’re putting players and the scheme around him and he’s doing a heck of a job and doing numbers in that offense. He’s doing a good job and he’s going to continue to do that.”
It’s the job of the Texans defense to stop or slow down Jackson, who appears to have expanded his arsenal in his third season.
“Their scheme in the running game is very unique. Very unique. No one else in the league really does what they do.”
“Very difficult. Very difficult,” O’Brien said. “Their scheme in the running game is very unique. Very unique. No one else in the league really does what they do. It’s just the way they use their tight ends, their blocking schemes, their backs and then obviously Lamar. Obviously, he’s an excellent passer, so it’s very unique. We have to have a great week.”
But now the eyes are on Watson, who has lost two-lopsided games to Mahomes in a row and last season suffered a lopsided loss to Jackson and the Ravens. Watson is coming off a disappointing start to the season after completing 20 of 32 passes for 253 yards, one touchdown and one interception in his first action without DeAndre Johnson.
In last season’s Baltimore game, Watson threw for just 169 yards and one interception on 18 of 29 passing in the 34-point loss. One would think he is approaching this game as a chance to prove he belongs in the elite young quarterback conversation with these two.
But of course, that is not how Watson is approaching it – at least not publicly.
“Last year’s game is last year’s game.”
“This is a new year, so we’re not really focused on what happened in that. It got away. They did their job and did what they had to do at home. This year and the talent they got is very, very top notch. One of the best defenses we’re going to see throughout the year.”
Follow Terrance Harris on Twitter @terranceharris.