HOUSTON (AP) — Everyone agrees that Deshaun Watson took far too many hits last week against the Dallas Cowboys.
That doesn’t mean Houston’s quarterback is going to change the way he plays on Sunday when the Texans (2-3) host the Buffalo Bills (2-3).
Many of those hits against Dallas came on runs when he simply refused to slide, something that he won’t apologize for.
“If you put (me in) that same situation in overtime and it’s fourth-and-1 and we need a touchdown and the ball is in my hands, you’re going to want me to get in that end zone,” Watson said. “It’s a fine line. You’ve got to pick your spots and pick your situations.”
Coach Bill O’Brien doesn’t blame his young quarterback for trying to make plays, but is looking for ways to limit how many blows he takes. Many running quarterbacks have had their production — and careers — curtailed by getting hit too hard too often.
“Two of the plays where he took a hit where he was trying to score touchdowns,” O’Brien said. “So, very competitive guy and does a great job of moving. Sometimes the ball can come out a little bit quicker, sometimes the play can be better, but we’re all working hard to improve every area of the offense.”
The repeated hits from the Cowboys left Watson a bit banged-up this week, but he insisted that he’s fine and won’t be limited against Buffalo. He was asked if this was the sorest he’s ever been after a game.
“I’ve been sore plenty of times,” he said. “It’s part of the game, able to take some shots and just regroup and keep moving forward.”
Buffalo coach Sean McDermott said he spent some time with Watson before he was drafted last year and raved about him as a person and a player. He knows a key for his team Sunday will be finding a way to limit his dynamic plays.
“He’s a headache … the way he plays, he makes plays with his arm, he makes plays with his feet,” McDermott said. “I’ve got a lot of respect for him.”
Some things to know about Buffalo’s trip to Houston on Sunday:
RUNNING GAME FOCUS
As the Bills try to bring rookie quarterback Josh Allen along, McDermott knows that improving his team’s running game will help the process.
“To me, they go hand in hand when you’re trying to be responsible with a young player, a young quarterback in particular, that some form of balance is important,” he said.
The Bills have struggled on offense so far and their 221.2 yards a game rank 31st. They’re averaging 121.8 yards passing a game, the lowest output in the league. Despite those numbers, McDermott is careful not to put too much pressure on Allen to turn things around by himself.
“I’ve been around young quarterbacks before, and to put too much on young quarterbacks’ shoulders… (and say): ‘Hey go out there and win the game.’ That’s a little bit unrealistic,” McDermott said. “So, we’ve got to make sure we put a good plan in place every week that gives us a chance to win and the quarterback a chance to develop, and also keep the quarterback upright as well.”
Houston defensive end J.J. Watt looks to have put the last two injury-filled seasons behind him and is tied for first in the NFL with six sacks this year. Watt is tied with Cincinnati’s Geno Atkins and his young brother, Pittsburgh’s T.J. Watt.
“It’s pretty wild when you go and you look at the sack sheet and you see our names next to each other,” Watt said. “We used to beat up on each other in backyard and now we get to see our names at the top of the NFL sack charts. So, it’s incredible and I’m lucky.”
The Texans have been impressed with the development of rookie WR Keke Coutee, who has played the last two games after sitting out the first three weeks with a hamstring injury. The fourth-round pick has 17 receptions for 160 yards and scored his first touchdown in Sunday’s overtime win against the Dallas Cowboys.
“He has great instincts, great ability to make plays on the ball, strong hands and he’s just a guy with a high football IQ,” Watson said. “So, whenever I see him one on one or in the zone coverage, get the ball in his area just like Hop (DeAndre Hopkins) and all of the other receivers and he’s going to make the play.”