CINCINNATI (SPORTSRADIO 610) – After rolling with Tom Savage for just a half in the Texans season opener, Bill O’Brien put the keys of Houston’s offense into the hands of rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson.
And the kid didn’t disappoint. Despite a multitude of injuries on offense and a still shaky offensive line, Watson helped the Texans squeak out a 13 – 9 road victory over the Bengals Thursday night.
“It wasn’t perfect,” said O’Brien of Watson’s first career start. “But he did some good things. There will be a lot to learn from. We’ll watch the tape.”
It wasn’t perfect. Watson nearly threw a couple of interceptions, and finished with a modest but efficient stat line: 15-24 for 125 yards. He was sacked just 3 times, a clear step forward from the Texans’ 10 sack debacle against the Jaguars Sunday.
But the 2016 National Champion’s legs proved to be the difference. Watson’s 49 yard touchdown scramble before halftime was easily the highlight of the game..
“That was a good play,” said O’Brien. “He didn’t see anything open down the field . . . and he took off. And He can run. He’s a very instinctive runner. So he did a nice job on that play.”
The play impressed Texans defensive end J.J. Watt as well.
“Yeah it was great,” said Watt of Watson’s scramble. “It’s going to be up and down. It’s a rookie quarterback. It’s not going to be perfect. But when he can come into a situation like that and put a big play on the board, a touchdown right before the half, that’s huge. And that’s what he brings. That’s what he’s able to do. So that was a huge momentum swing in our favor obviously.
“That’s one of the things that you’ve seen throughout his career at Clemson obviously and what we’ve seen in the preseason here,” continued O’Brien on Watson’s ability to improvise. “He’s just got that ability. He’s got that knack. Sometimes he’s got to do a better job with it. Sometimes the journey’s over and he wants to keep it going. But I thought overall he did a nice job. He was smart with the ball.”
O’Brien was pressed as to if the win meant that Watson will be the Texans’ starting quarterback for the rest of the season. He didn’t really give an answer.
“It’s just trying to make decisions in the best interest of the team,” said O’Brien. “I care about what the guys in that locker room think. I talk to a couple of my assistants and see what they think. Romeo and a couple other guys. And then I make a decision. I try to make decisions in the best interest of the team.”
At the end of his press conference, O’Brien finally weighed in on linebacker Brian Cushing’s 10 game suspension for performance enhancing drugs.
“I think Brian’s statement speaks for itself,” said O’Brien. “I love Brian Cushing. He’s meant a lot to me and my family since I’ve been here. I feel bad for what happened. I think he’s owned up to it in his statement. He’ll serve the suspension and he’ll be back at some point.”
Paul Gallant hosts “Gallant at Night” – Tuesday 9-11 PM CT, Wednesdays and Fridays 8-11 PM CT – on SportsRadio 610. He also hosts SportsZone Unfiltered – Fridays at 10 PM – on The Kube: Channel 57. Get in touch with Paul via email or his facebook page.