Why Doesn’t Deshaun Watson Get More Respect?

Deshaun Watson has a shot to be the very best quarterback in the NFL. He may not be right now, but he possesses the talent to do it. In spite of this, Watson doesn’t get the same respect as some of his peers. So why is that?

How is it that a quarterback as gifted as Watson can somehow remain overlooked? Let’s take a closer look at the Houston Texans’ QB’s strengths and why he doesn’t get the credit he’s obviously due. 

Deshaun Watson’s career so far

Deshaun Watson drops back for a pass during a Texans game
Deshaun Watson dropping back for a pass | Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Texans selected Watson with the 12th overall pick in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. He’s appeared in 39 games in his career with a record of 24-14. He has a completion percentage of 66.7% and 72 career touchdowns. Watson is entering his fourth season as a starter and has already made two Pro Bowls. He has a playoff record of 1-2, with four touchdowns and an interception. 

Watson’s rookie season was looking phenomenal until it was cut short due to injury; he threw 19 touchdown passes in seven games. He’s rebounded well in his subsequent two seasons, throwing for 26 touchdowns each year. 

Watson’s career is still in its early stages, but he’s off to a tremendous start. But what specific attributes does he bring to the table that make him so good? 

Analyzing Deshaun Watson’s strengths

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Watson’s been nearly a household name since his dominant run with the Clemson Tigers at the collegiate level. Watson has a great arm, solid accuracy, and is a threat to run as well. But what separates Watson from many quarterbacks is his leadership ability.

On the field, he sets a great example for his teammates, holding himself and themselves accountable. He’s also not one to shy away from speaking out about social issues that matter to him, such as the racial injustice and police brutality plaguing the country.

In an ESPN story on Watson, he summarized his stance on being outspoken: 

“I’ve always appreciated and really loved the people that loved me and helped me get to where I am…But I think for me to be able to speak about topics I never really talked about — politics, social justice, religion — I think I kind of broke through that barrier. It took me a while to break through that, for sure.”

Watson has serious game on the field and serious leadership qualities off of it. So why doesn’t he get more respect? 

Why doesn’t he get more respect? 

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Watson clearly has a ton of talent, a high ceiling, and has proven results on the field in his brief career. But he doesn’t get mentioned in the same breath as quarterbacks like Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady. Lamar Jackson, who had a breakout season last year, also gets mentioned above Watson. So why is that exactly? 

The easy answer is a lack of playoff success. Watson doesn’t have the playoff results of Mahomes or Brady to justify moving him into the upper echelon. Even though Jackson struggled in last year’s postseason, his regular season was so immaculate that most observers are willing to give him a mulligan. Right now, Watson’s failure to make a deep playoff run is being held against him. 

That’s not to say it’s all Watson’s fault. He plays for a coach in Bill O’Brien who doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence as a creative offensive mind. It’s also going to get a bit tougher for Watson this year with DeAndre Hopkins no longer one of his receiving threats.

The young quarterback has plenty of time and will likely get more opportunities to prove himself, however. All it takes is one Super Bowl appearance, and he’ll be listed alongside the greats in no time. 

All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference