Preparedness has yielded the spectacular.
Throughout his first three NFL seasons, Deshaun Watson has made plays that boggle the mind. He's escaped from hair-raising situations that doomed most other quarterbacks. Like the overtime pass against Buffalo. The eye-kick touchdown against the Raiders. The Jordan Akins touchdown at Los Angeles. The Akins completion at Philly. The list goes on. And on.
But according to his teammates, none of that would've happened were it not for what Watson did in the months from March through July. In non-pandemic years, Watson and his teammates were together as a complete group for a fraction of that time. But he still put in a lot of work with them. Through technology, he's done that this offseason as well.
"Yeah, it's very huge," Akins said. "It's not just on the field it's off the field as well. The stronger your relationship is, the stronger your connection is going to be on the field. Sometimes if I want to break the route or keep the route on, he'll know. And I know what he wants to do."
This offseason, Watson was vigilant about working with the Texans offense on Zoom. Teammates described those sessions like graduate level football work. In years past he took advantage of the down time by organizing workouts with chunks of teammates locally, as well as in spots like Arizona, California, Georgia and elsewhere. That combination of the mental and physical in times outside of training camp and organized team activities (OTAs) has paid dividends in the autumn. Quarterbacks like Watson are unique.
"They don't come by just waking up and coming out playing football," right tackle Tytus Howard said. "He practices this, he puts in the work every day. He works out to strengthen his lower body to be able to do that. And what he does in off season shows up during the season. So, you know he's working to become the quarterback he is today."
That work ethic, and what he's been able to do on Sundays as a pro, made a huge impression on new Texans receiver Brandin Cooks. Right after he signed as a free agent, Cooks described his excitement in getting to work with Watson and pointed to how he's tried to build chemistry twith the quarterback in a virtual environment.
"We're doing Zoom meetings, asking Deshaun what he's looking for, what does he like to see from his receivers, what is he seeing in this defense and the way that he likes to throw things," Cooks said.
The thirst for a Super Bowl title is strong, and Howard said Watson has everyone pointed in the right direction.
"He's just been showing his leadership by what he expects from us," Howard said. I've been watching him working out each and every day. I know one of his mottos is "the work comes first", and you don't hear that from a lot of people that the work comes first."
Watson and the Texans begin the regular season on September 10 at Kansas City.