Despite starting of the NFL’s better young quarterbacks and having an impressive assortment of talent at the receiving positions, the Houston Texans’ offense has yet to find its groove this season. The unit is ranked as just the 23rd best in the NFL in terms of scoring, averaging 22.2 points over its first nine games this season. Meanwhile, Houston won just two games (both against the equally moribund 1-8 Jacksonville Jaguars).
And yet, Bill Belichick is making sure that the New England Patriots are not taking their upcoming opponent likely ahead of their trip to Houston — especially on the offensive side of the ball. The Patriots’ head coach spoke at great lengths about the unit during a media conference call on Wednesday, praising its speed and playmaking ability.
“This is probably as explosive or more explosive a group than any in the league, certainly anyone that we’ve seen,” Belichick said. “The tight ends are good, the backs are good, the quarterback’s good and they have great depth and quality at receiver, from [Brandin] Cooks, [Will] Fuller, [Kenny] Stills, [Randall] Cobb. It’s a very explosive team. They move the ball. They don’t turn the ball over.
“[Deshaun] Watson’s done a great job of protecting the ball and making good decisions, while at the same time being at the very top of the league in explosive plays and yards per completion and so forth. They have a good complement with their running game and the RPO schemes that they run. It’s very challenging to defend.”
While the results so far have been disappointing for the Texans, they do present a challenge for a Patriots defense that has had its ups and downs this season. New England is ranked 11th in the league in points allowed, and has had some major consistency issues against both the run and the pass this season. If the team wants so leave Houston with a win to improve to 5-5 on the season, those flaws in execution cannot be allowed to return.
Deshaun Watson and his supporting cast, after all, are still plenty talented enough to make the Patriots pay according to Belichick.
“They have a lot of speed at receiver with Cooks and Fuller and Stills and Cobb is kind of sneaky fast. And then you have the tight ends who both run well, and Duke [Johnson] who, when he gets extended, they’ll run him on a wheel route or put him in empty formation and have the opportunity to get the ball to him if the matchup is good and so forth. It’s definitely an explosive group and they’ve got a big offensive line that does a good job protecting,” said Belichick.
“This is a hard team to defend. It’s going to take good team defense. There’s no one guy you can say, ‘We’ll stop this guy and we’ll be okay.’ They just have too many guys and the quarterback is too good. He can extend plays, he can make all the throws, he can get the ball down the field, he has a nice touch and doesn’t turn the ball over. He does an excellent job of making good decisions and not giving the ball away.”
That quarterback is former first-round draft pick Deshaun Watson, who has completed 68.1 percent of his pass attempts so far this season for 2,539 yards, 18 touchdowns and just five interceptions (he also has registered 48 rushing attempts for 233 yards and another score). While not in the MVP debate due to his team’s overall struggles over the first nine games of the season, Watson has played some quality football this season.
All of that has obviously not yet translated into too many wins this year, but just don’t tell Bill Belichick.