HOUSTON — One of Deshaun Watson‘s best traits is his ability to keep plays alive, turning broken plays into big gains, either with his arm or legs. He’s done it throughout his career and many times already this season.
In the season opener against the Saints, Watson found Kenny Stills deep down the middle of the field for 37 yards for the go-ahead touchdown with less than a minute left in the game. Earlier in that game, he found Will Fuller in the middle of the field for a 54-yard catch. And in Week 3 against the Chargers, Watson evaded a sack attempt and found tight end Jordan Akins for a short pass that turned into a 53-yard touchdown.
But in the Texans’ 16-10 loss to the Panthers on Sunday, Watson’s longest pass completion was 14 yards, although he missed on two deep attempts down the field — one to Fuller and one to DeAndre Hopkins — that Watson said he put on himself for inaccuracy. Watson said he overthrew Fuller, and with the pass to Hopkins, the ball “just kind of sailed.”
“I’ve just got to hit those,” Watson said. “Those are two important plays that could have changed the ballgame. I just put that on myself. Can’t blame the receivers. I’m the one that’s throwing the ball and directing it.
“Next time I’ll make sure I hit them.”
Watson completed 21 of 33 passes for 160 yards, along with three carries for 12 yards and a touchdown. He finished the game with just one completion of more than 10 air yards, and it came on his final completion of the game, according to ESPN Stats & Information. He hadn’t had a game with just one completion of more than 10 air yards since his first career game.
Texans receiver Keke Coutee said the lack of big plays was indicative of how the game was going, and “you’re not going to get big plays every game,” so the Texans just need to take what the defense is giving them.
“It’s not going to be a home run play every play,” Coutee said. “Just take the short and easy [plays and] take it one step at a time.”
Watson said part of the reason for the lack of the big plays on Sunday was because of the coverage the Panthers were playing.
“I’ve got to check the ball down, take what they give us,” Watson said. “They play a lot of zone coverage and making us earn it. Keep everything short. Like I said, the deep balls, when he had the opportunity, I’ve got to hit those.”
For Watson, the bigger problem with the offense on Sunday was that the Texans couldn’t capitalize, especially in the red zone.
“We have to finish drives,” Watson said. “We put drives together. We got in the red zone and didn’t finish them. I didn’t see the stats, but however many times we got in there, we scored once, got a field goal and we have to capitalize and score more touchdowns. That’s the biggest thing.
“We were moving the ball, we were doing this but when we got behind the chips, the penalties, the false starts, the illegal formation, things like that, that put us behind the sticks. That’s where we get in trouble. It’s not so much of them containing us. We were moving the ball down the field. It’s just we got to continue to finish that and not mess up the drives ourselves.”