Lamar Jackson has burst onto the NFL scene as a franchise quarterback this season, but underestimating what Deshaun Watson can do is a massive mistake.
When the Ravens host the Texans on Sunday it’s very likely the game will boil down to which quarterback plays the best.
Lamar Jackson is the hot, new name on everyone’s lips.
Deshaun Watson is the more valuable signal-caller heading into this weekend.
Jackson’s emergence as a legitimate star at quarterback has been nothing short of remarkable. He’s the main reason why the Ravens head into their Week 11 game with a sparkling record of 7-2. His ability to threaten opposing defenses through the air and on the ground has revolutionized what Baltimore has done on offense this season.
Ironically, Jackson’s stellar play has allowed Watson’s season to fly quietly under the radar. The former Clemson star might be happy to avoid the spotlight until the playoffs arrive, but that doesn’t mean it’s fair. Watson is actually enjoying his best season as a professional.
Some of the credit for his 2019 success certainly goes to the Texans’ improved offensive line, but it’s not as if he’s playing behind a group of five perennial Pro Bowlers. Houston have simply upgraded their front line from historically bad to somewhere in the realm of decent. It still takes a special quarterback to make this offense go.
Watson is definitely that guy.
Plenty of NFL fans think of him as a runner, but he’s completing over 70% of his passes on the season. He’s also cut his interception rate to a career low 1.7%. That’s allowed him to throw 18 touchdowns against just five interceptions coming into Sunday’s crucial game against the Ravens.
All of those passing statistics put him slightly ahead of what Jackson has accomplished to date. The Baltimore quarterback does win the battle between the two when it comes to rushing statistics, but that’s also a product of opportunity alongside natural ability. We’ve seen what Watson can do when he’s unleashed on the edges. The Texans offense just isn’t set up to put their Pro Bowl quarterback at risk nearly as often as the Ravens do with Jackson.
In fairness, neither of these teams would be where they are without the unique skill sets of their respective quarterbacks. The Ravens defense isn’t what it used to be and they’ve built their offense almost entirely around Jackson’s unique skill set.
No one should forget that the Texans defense isn’t playing as well as it has in recent years either. The franchise traded Jadeveon Clowney this offseason and J.J. Watt has gone out with another season-ending injury. The secondary doesn’t have Tyrann Mathieu to clean things up anymore either. The only reason Houston is in the playoff hunt is because of the spectacular play of Watson under center.
Critics of the Texans’ star might try to explain his success away by highlighting the talent he has at wide receiver. DeAndre Hopkins is certainly one of the most dynamic wide receivers in the NFL. The talent for Houston at the skill positions after him leaves a lot to be desired, though.
Will Fuller is a constant injury risk at the other wide receiver position. No opposing defense coordinators are staying up at night trying to figure out how to slow down the running back duo of Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson. Watson is the first name on the opposing scouting report by a wide margin on a weekly basis.
All of the headlines going into Sunday’s game will detail the special season Jackson is enjoying, but don’t let it overshadow the brilliant performances Watson is putting on every Sunday. He deserves to be every bit the MVP candidate that Jackson is.
A win at Baltimore on Sunday may change the national narrative on quarterback play very quickly.