NFL preseason games are often frowned upon as unnecessary, and there are many arguments to support this. However, if the shortened preseason and absence of games this year have shown anything, it is that the lack of preparations together can really hurt a team during the regular season.
The Houston Texans' offense has been a prime example.
"I think this whole offseason with this pandemic has been crazy for everyone," said Texans legend Andre Johnson.
"Guys didn't really get a chance to spend time with each other, do routes and things like that,'' Johnson continued in his visit with TexansDaily.com. "I just think now you can see that there's a confidence, they seem confident and comfortable with each other. You really had no chemistry with Randall (Cobb) or Brandin Cooks because they weren't able to spend any time together in the offseason.
"I think now you're just starting to see they're becoming comfortable with each other and understand what each others looking for and you can just see it when they play."
That comfort level would help on Sunday when the Texans take on the Indianapolis Colts in a noon start at NRG Stadium.
Quarterback Deshaun Watson has been playing some of the best football of his career in 2020. This cannot be denied. Maybe the Clemson alum doesn't get the credit he deserves, primarily because he is playing for a 4-7 team. But his consistency and production isn't being overlooked by everyone.
"I really think Deshaun's been doing a great job," said Johnson, his conversation with us part of his work with Crown Royal to promote their water breaks. "I tell people all the time, he's only going to continue to get better. He seems very confident in what he's doing."
Watson is currently fourth in the league in passing yards (3,201), fifth in passing touchdowns (24), and third in average quarterback rating (112.5). On the path for a career year, Watson has been playing both efficient and smart football, taking fewer unnecessary sacks and cutting his interceptions.
When considering that he is doing this after losing DeAndre Hopkins in a trade with the Arizona Cardinals earlier this year, his year suddenly looks ever more impressive. Then of course there has been the COVID-19 pandemic which, as previously mentioned, threw off not only the preseason as a whole but Watson's ability to prepare with his new receiving and rushing weapons in this new-look Texans offense.
And this lack of reps has affected not only their passing game, but Houston's ever-maligned run game as well, which has amassed just 923 rushing yards to date - 31st in the NFL.
Houston added Duke Johnson last season and David Johnson, a formidable duo if their combined $13.8 million base salaries this year anything to go off of. And yet, offensive coordinator Tim Kelly has yet to find an effective way to utilize them consistently, while the offensive line has also struggled to block sufficiently with David particularly struggling prior to his concussion.
"Of course, the O-line's more comfortable with Duke than they are with David," said Johnson. "You kind of know how guys run and the kind of cuts and things they're gonna make."
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With the Texans' offense having lost receiver Will Fuller to suspension earlier this week,, they will need Watson to pull off more magic than ever in the weeks to come.
Fingers crossed that Andre Johnson is correct, and the best of Watson is yet to come. ... and that the rhythm works against the Colts.