The Houston Texans are focusing on getting Ben Roethlisberger on the ground this week. The Pittsburgh Steelers can say the same thing about Deshaun Watson. Watson is among the NFL’s most mobile quarterbacks and his ability to extend the play and throw off-platform make him a special quarterback. Speaking to reporters Friday morning, TJ Watt said keeping #4 in the pocket and getting him on the ground is critical to securing victory.
“I think Deshaun does a great job of his physicality and getting and outside of the pocket,” Watt said via Steelers.com. “He’s a tough guy to get down. He has a really good stiff arm is showing last week and tape a couple of times. He’s just a magician. The pocket I saw last year down in Houston when they played Buffalo in the playoffs. He just keeps plays alive and I’m really looking forward to going up against a competitor like that.”
The play he’s referring to was one of Watson’s best. A would-be sack where Watson bounced and spun off a pair of Bills’ blitzers, rolled right, and hit Taiwan Jones for an eventual 34 yard run. Houston kicked the game-winning field goal the next play.
Watson’s mobility and ability to extend the play mitigates an offensive line that hasn’t done a great job of protecting him. But even Watson isn’t perfect. He’s been sacked eight times this season, tied for the most in football, though that’s partially due to the Texans being behind in both games. Though DeAndre Hopkins was traded away in the offseason, their offense still has weapons. Deep threats in Will Fuller and Brandin Cooks, an emerging tight end threat in Jordan Atkins, and capable receiving backs in David Johnson and Duke Johnson, though the latter is questionable with an ankle injury.
For the season, Watson’s completed nearly two-third of his passes for 528 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions, numbers largely in line with his career average. Pittsburgh’s secondary hasn’t been its best through two weeks, blowing too many coverages, and now they’re facing a quarterback more than capable of making them pay.