If you want some measure of Deshaun Watson’s value, all you had to do was watch the Houston Texans without him on Sunday.
Last week, against a fantastic Seattle Seahawks defense, Watson helped the Houston Texans score 38 points and they almost pulled out a road win. Watson blew out his ACL in practice on Thursday. Then on Sunday, Tom Savage led the Texans to one offensive touchdown, and that came after Houston trailed by 13 points, against a bad Indianapolis Colts defense at home. The Texans’ defense scored one touchdown. So did Houston’s offense. The Texans lost 20-14.
It’s hard to calculate the exact value for any football player, but the results of Houston’s last two games give us a good idea of how much Watson brought to the team. He was the AFC offensive player of the month for a reason.
Savage looked awful most of Sunday, though he rallied Houston late in the fourth quarter. He looked bad in his Week 1 start too. (Here’s where we need to point out again that the Texans watched and evaluated Watson and Savage for four months after the draft and decided Savage was better than Watson for Week 1. They made the change after only one week because Savage was so bad in the opener. That decision is so inexcusably weird it reflects on the entire Texans staff, and especially coach Bill O’Brien, regarding their ability to make any decision.)
Savage finally threw a nice touchdown to DeAndre Hopkins with a little more than six minutes left, which cut the Colts’ lead to 20-14. He later drove the Texans deep into Colts territory in the final minute and almost connected on a touchdown to Hopkins, but Hopkins was out of bounds. Then with the Texans facing a goal-to-go situation in the final seconds, Savage threw wildly incomplete on first and second downs; a third-down pass was batted away and on the final play of the game Savage was hit and fumbled.
It’s fair to believe Watson would have given the Texans a better chance to make a game-winning play at the end, or Houston would have not needed last-minute heroics because the offense with Watson would have scored more than one offensive touchdown.
It’s not just Savage’s poor play, it’s that Watson was incredible in the first half of the season. Nobody knew at the beginning of this season that a Watson-Savage swap would be such a huge drop-off. But it looks as steep as any in the NFL.
The Texans were in trouble before Watson’s injury because they’d lost a couple stars on defense in J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus. But Watson could at least keep them competitive in any game, as we saw last week in Seattle. That’s out the window now. The Texans turned to Savage, and they lost at home against the lowly Colts. Even if the Texans made it interesting at the end, if they can’t beat the Colts at home then there aren’t many favorable matchups left.
Every week from here on out will be a brutal reminder to Texans fans of their star quarterback who is done for the season.
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