QB Deshaun Watson (9.21.23)

Deshaun, you were kind of a teammate with Mike Vrabel. You played him five times as a head coach. What do you think of what he runs there defensively a challenge? 

“Yeah, I mean, he’s going to have a tough, disciplined, physical defense that’s going to try to make you earn everything. He’s going to disguise and do things that is kind of out of the ordinary. He’s going to make you think on the run, and he’s going to test you throughout the whole game. So the time I played with him, he was a coach at the time, my first year in Houston was awesome to be able to learn and see what he did. And then playing against him while he was at Tennessee, when I was in Houston, it was actually some good battles, so it’ll be fun to go against his defense again.”


Deshaun, you said after the game that you got to play better. I know you wanted some passes back or whatever. What have you identified as maybe the biggest issue for you the two games?

“For myself it’s being on the same page with everybody else. And that’s just going with protection wise through the coverage wise to what we’re thinking about with Kevin (Stefanski), if it’s going to be a four down situation, if it’s a third down situation, if I need to take the shots, if I don’t need to take the shots, and things like that. So just being able to just continue to grow and learn, and that’s the biggest thing for me. And that’s the part of this game. It’s the NFL. Every week is different. Every week is a new challenge, and you have to continue to grow and continue to get better.”


As you’ve gone on your career, have you gotten better at putting those games behind you? Or do you try to process them all during the week as you get ready for the next? 

“Not always. Once that next day is up, after the 24 hours rule, after the off day, I think it’s Tuesdays. Then it’s on to the next opponent. We can’t dwell on the focus of the match, especially early on in the season. It’s a long year, 15 more games to go, and you just take the bullets that come with it and you grow from it and you just move forward.”


Why is getting on the same page such an issue? 

“Well, you got to think we had some injuries, so we had a rookie tackle that came in, so we got to change up a little bit of the protection wise. Nick went out early on, some young running backs that got to come in protection wise, and then some of the receivers. (Amari Cooper) Coop, he was a guy that came on, came along during camp. He didn’t get too much, too many reps. Elijah (Moore) is new to the system with live bullets, so we didn’t get too many live bullets in real games. You can’t sit here and say practice is going to be exactly the games. It’s two different speeds and two different things that’s adjustable. Practice is usually, this is what we’re working on, this is what we’re trying to get better. But in the game, you got to be able to adjust on the fly. So all those things match up together, but we’re coming along, and sooner or later it’s going to click.”


Mechanically, how do you think you’re playing mechanically? 

“From what me and Kevin (Stefanski) and AVP (Alex Van Pelt) been talking about, it’s been pretty solid. From what the grades that really matter is from the coaches and what they want me to do in the system, and that’s what I’ve been doing so.”


So your footwork and everything is what you want it to be? 

“Yeah, it’s what I want it to be. It’s what Kevin, AVP wanted me to do. And like I said, it’s not always perfect, but from what they see on the film game tape and what their notes and their grades, from what happened the first two games, it’s been pretty good.”


Are you usually able to block out the noise outside and all the stuff going on social media and all the criticism that you’re taking? Or do you get yourself sort of Involved in that? If so, does it impact you in any way? 

“No. It doesn’t impact me. I don’t get into any of the social media stuff. So my main job is here to play football and to be the best teammate and do what I can do to help this team win.”


Yeah, I was just going to say so are you kind of oblivious to just some of the criticism out there that’s kind of swirling? 

“I mean, I see it, I hear it, it’s impossible not to see it unless I just turn off my phone completely or turn off the TV completely, but it comes with the territory, it comes with the status and the standard that people hold me to. So I don’t look at it as anything bad. I don’t look at it as anything personal. It’s part of the game, it’s part of my level, and I look at it as, hey, people hold me to the standard. So I have to make sure I play to that standard. And if I’m not, then I have to continue to find ways to get better. So I don’t take it personal. I don’t get in my feelings about it. It’s just continue to just keep growing and keep learning and keep working each and every day.”


During the broadcast of the game, they showed you in three games sitting on the bench next to a person they identified as a visualization coach. Can you explain what’s going on there? 

“Yeah, man. Doc, am I allowed to say his name? Dr. Mayur Pandya, we’ve been talking since I got traded here last year. He’s a visual coach, a player coach, a therapist for just the mind, the mental state of just not just the game but life in general, just being able to try to focus, narrow your focus as much as possible. So we’ve been working and trying different things to make sure that I’m staying locked in on blocking out the good, the bad, just staying focused on my tasks and my job. And it’s been helping. And he’s been a great help for, not just me but everyone in this organization, in this locker room. So he’s been good to be able to have that. I’ve never had that before, so I’m still learning and growing from him.”


Is that a pregame ritual now for you? 

“This is our second or third time actually doing it. You know, we’re seeing how it goes and seeing how it flows, and we’re taking our time. You know there’s things that we got to adjust to, but it’s definitely something,  if it’s going to help me, I definitely want to continue doing.”


Deshaun your completion percentage in Houston wasso high and it hasn’t been on your eight starts. Why do you think that is? 

“Well, actually it was, going back at it early on in the season. If you look at 19 and 20 and 18, it wasn’t as high until early on. The first two or three games, it was definitely low. We were still finding our rhythm and then that’s where we picked it up. Especially in 2018, we started 0-4 won 10 straight. ’19, I think went 1-1. Week one, I think it was New Orleans. That was a decent game. We lost that one, went to Jacksonville, wasn’t a good game. And then that’s when it kind of started rolling. And then ’20 was very similar. I think we started 0-4 also and then we started picking up things like that too. But yeah, I mean, it’s just getting comfortable with this system. It’s a totally different system. Just finding ways to get back on track when things are not going our way. Learning Kevin (Stefanski), okay, this is what we’re going to do. We’re going to run the ball. We’re going to be quick game. Are we going to get it empty? Are we going to do a little bit zone read keepers? What are we going to do to get back on track? And things like that. So just being able to do that. The other night, the first play was tip ball and pick six. And then I think the next five plays were completions and then it just kind of trickled there. And then it was like a little low in the middle of the game where we kind of went, I think six straight or something like that with incompletions. They did a good job on defense of covering the spots and then we picked back up those completions. So, yeah, it’s part of the game. You just pick up the pieces and watch the tape and see which ways where you can keep getting those completions but that’s pretty much it.”


Deshaun, you only played like five series in the preseason. How much when you talk about the early struggles, completion, and getting on the same page, how much is it that you guys don’t have a lot of reps at game speed that you’re getting adjusted to? 

“I can sit here and say that it’s a lot, but I’m not going to sit up here and tell you guys that’s the reason why. It’s just part of the game and how the game flows. So I’m not going to use preseason as an excuse to sit up here and say we got to continue to find our rhythm and things like that. I’m not going to make no excuses for myself or anybody. We got to make sure we start fast and play better and get those completions and that timing and rhythm. We got to be able to adjust. So that’s the biggest thing. Keep going and keep grinding and keep working hard for it.”


Deshaun, I know obviously, you can’t replace Nick Chubb, but what have you seen from Jerome (Ford) and just your confidence in him that he can add to this run game? 

“I think Jerome is very confident. I think he’s very smart. He’s picked up the system and the protection wise, especially on third down very well, and he knows exactly what we want for that running back position. And then bringing back Kareem (Hunt) is going to be helpful. He was there last year with him. But Jerome has been a guy that he’s been watching Nick not from a distance, but right behind him. I mean everything Nick do, he try to simulate and do it in his own way, and I think that’s been very helpful for him, and he’s going to be a big part of this offense.”


What do you think that Kareem (Hunt) is going to bring to you guys, not only in terms of just, like, another weapon for you out of the backfield, but from a morale boost and just he’s, like, energetic on the sidelines and kind of helping you keep guys up? 

“Yeah, I think you hit it right on the spot. The energy, the aura, he just oozes out for this team and this organization, and I think he’s excited to be back on the field. He’s excited to be back in this locker room. He’s excited to be in front of his home crowd. So I think he’s looking forward to that. I think the biggest thing for him is just to come in and just be Kareem, and that’s all we asked him to do. Nothing special, nothing trying to make up space for Chubb or anything like that, because that’s a big void to try to make up. Just be you and let everything flow together.”


Deshaun, you’ve played this team a lot over your career. That defensive line, what makes it special? 

“Just the movement, starting up front with (Jeffrey) Simmons. He’s an All-Pro player. Then you got (Arden) Key and got (Denico) Autry and all those other guys. Howard, I’m not saying it right, excuse me. (Harold) Landry, 58, he’s another guy. I mean, all those guys are just disruptive and very fast, very active, understands what (Mike) Vrabel is asking to do and you got to respect them and it’s definitely going to be a good challenge for us and we’re excited to compete with them and you got to give them credit for what they’ve been doing.”


Tough week with losing to the Steelers and then obviously losing (Nick) Chubb for the year. As a captain of this team, how do you kind of boost the guys up? How do you recover from something like this? 

“I mean, you can’t recover from an injury like that with Nick. I mean, that’s tough. All we can do is just continue to just try to move forward and that next person got to step up. But that’s always going to be in back of our heads and our minds. The things that if Chubb was here and the things that he would say and the work ethic that he would put in. So you can’t replace that. But at the same time, this is the NFL. You got to continue to move forward and the next person with the opportunity, got to step up and I think we’re going to bounce back from that.”


You said those bounce backs from earlier in your career, does that help you maintain your confidence and give you optimism for the rest of the season? 

“I’ll always have confidence. That’s just the person I am. And having the teammates in this locker room just telling me every day, the player I am and just boosting my confidence, too, as I boost theirs and we are just in it together. Me losing confidence is not something that I’m going to do. I’m going to continue to work and continue to compete and just try to get better as best as I can.”


Deshaun, Minkah Fitzpatrick is taking a lot of heat for that hit on Nick Chubb. If you saw it, what can you say about that hit? Did you think it was okay?

“I was live there. I didn’t want to watch it. Even when we watched the tape, we didn’t even watch the play. So I can’t speak on what happened exactly. I was on the opposite side and I didn’t even know Nick was hurt until I jogged back over and I saw him on the ground. I’m not even sure about that, honestly.”


Did everybody turn their heads when they showed it? 

“Oh, yeah, for sure. And like I said, as quarterbacks, when we watched the tape, we knew the play and we just skipped it. We didn’t even want to watch it.”