HOUSTON — Former Clemson star Deshaun Watson helped the Houston Texans to a win in his first NFL start.
Now the Texans are looking to see how he can improve before they face New England on Sept. 24.
Watson was 15 of 24 for 125 yards passing and added 67 yards rushing, highlighted by a 49-yard touchdown run in Houston’s 13-9 victory over the Bengals. He got the start after taking over at halftime of Houston’s season-opening loss to Jacksonville when Tom Savage was benched.
Coach Bill O’Brien was impressed with the way Watson handled the game considering the team had such a quick turnaround before playing on Thursday night.
“He’s got good poise,” O’Brien said. “He’s a smart guy. He rarely makes the same mistake twice, he kind of learns right away. He’s a quick learner. He just did a nice job.”
O’Brien has no doubt that Watson, who was the 12th overall pick in this year’s draft out of Clemson, will grow as he gets more playing time and becomes more comfortable with the offense. He said the player, who turned 22 on Thursday, was already on his iPad on the flight back home after the game, dissecting his play.
“This kid’s going to get better and better and better the more he plays,” O’Brien said. “He’s played a lot for us from OTAs to training camp to the preseason to where he is now, and he’ll learn … he’s going to make his share of mistakes. He’s going to see things that he’s never seen before, seeing them for the first time, and he’ll learn from it. I thought last night he really learned during the game, and that was pretty good to see.”
Watson was happy to get the victory in his first start, but knows that he has much more work to do.
“You try to learn as much as you can with each rep,” he said. “I’m young in this league. I’ve only seen so much and have so much more to see and experience to be able to get to the top, where I want to be. That’s going to take time, but just take it one step at a time and try to build my confidence.”
Watson played behind a line which was much better than it was against the Jaguars when the group allowed 10 sacks. The Texans allowed just three sacks on Thursday night.
The Texans relied heavily on their running game against the Bengals because of numerous injuries to their tight ends and receivers.
Lamar Miller finished with 18 carries for 61 yards and rookie D’Onta Foreman added 12 carries for 40 yards. O’Brien made getting Foreman more carries this week a priority after last year’s Doak Walker Award winner had just one carry in the opener.
“He’s a downhill guy,” O’Brien said. “He’s got good vision. He’s a big guy and he ran hard. I thought for … the first time he’s had that much action, he did a good job.”
Since the Texans have a few extra days to prepare for the Patriots, O’Brien said he’ll take some time to evaluate his team and what needs to be done before looking ahead to the Patriots. Houston is 1-8 all-time against the Patriots and has been outscored 88-22 in three meetings since O’Brien took over, including a 34-16 loss in the playoffs last season.