Of all the problems Deshaun Watson might face as a franchise QB hopeful for the Houston Texans, patience won’t be among them.
At his introductory press conference on Friday at NRG Stadium, Watson, who was drafted No. 12 overall after a trade with the Cleveland Browns, said he’d embrace sitting on the bench if need be.
“I think that’s the best way,” Watson said. “Learn from the veteran guys. Play whatever role I have.”
Finding a Super Bowl-caliber quarterback is far from a science, but there does seem to be a benefit to holding a young QB back for a bit.
Tyrod Taylor sat for four years before getting his chance to start with the Buffalo Bills, who didn’t even draft him. (The Baltimore Ravens did).
Aaron Rodgers and Tony Romo each waited three years.
Phillip Rivers, two.
Kirk Cousins had a few spot starts sprinkled into his first two years in the NFL, but didn’t get extended playing time until 2014, his third season.
The list goes on, and includes all kinds of names. Carson Palmer and Chad Pennington. Drew Brees and Dante Culpepper. Tom Brady and Joe Montana. Jimmy Garoppolo and Steve Young. And so on.
Of course, there’s no perfect formula.
Dak Prescott and Derek Carr, two of the best young QBs in the game today, played right away. So did Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota. Same for Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson and Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan and Matt Stafford. On the other hand, Brock Osweiler, Colin Kaepernick, Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett and countless others waited for their chance, and underwhelmed when they finally got it.
Patience is a rare virtue in today’s NFL. Not so much from players, but from owners, general managers and coaches, who want immediate impact.
Each of the last 14 quarterbacks drafted in the first round eventually started a game their rookie season. The last one who didn’t: Jake Locker, who rode pine for the entire 2011 season for the Tennessee Titans.
Why do young quarterbacks play so early?
Depends on the player, and the situation.
Jared Goff, Carson Wentz and Paxton Lynch, last year’s first round quarterbacks, were all supposed to sit their rookie seasons.
But the Los Angeles Rams grew impatient, and caved, starting Goff for the last seven games of the season. The Philadelphia Eagles turned to Wentz the minute the Sam Bradford trade became reality. The Denver Broncos tapped Lynch for two starts when Trevor Siemian, then the starter, was injured.
You could do the same thing with plenty others, including Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater, every first round QB in 2014.
In the end, it takes a lot for an NFL team to get it right at quarterback. Drafting a good one. Developing him well. Surrounding him with talent, and with stability and structure.
But for Watson, if part of the plan includes leaving him on the bench for awhile, he’s totally fine with that.
“My main focus is to get in here, learn about the city, learn about this organization, learn the system and just be the best teammate I can be,” Watson said. “Whatever role that is. And just enjoying that.”