There was a point leading up to the NFL Draft where the Chicago Bears were all-in on Deshaun Watson – and why wouldn’t they be?
Watson was a two-time Heisman Trophy finalist and a runner-up in 2016. He led Clemson to the national title game in his sophomore and junior seasons, and was at the hart of the team’s come-from-behind win to dethrone Alabama in January. Watson’s college stats were staggering, as he threw for more than 10,000 yards, 90 touchdowns, and just 32 interceptions. Clearly, he impressed the Bears, because the team sent quite the traveling party to his pro day – where he put on quite the show.
Alas, the Bears went in a different direction on draft day, when GM Ryan Pace moved up in the draft to take Mitch Trubisky. Ever since selecting Trubisky with the second overall pick, the team has stressed its plan to slow-play his development under center. It’s safe to say that isn’t exactly the case with Watson in Texans camp.
In fact, Watson is making a push to be the team’s Week 1 starter.
Watson has left one heck of an impression on head coach Bill O’Brien, showing the head coach everything he would want to see out of a developing quarterback. John McClain of the Houston Chronicle writes that O’Brien is excited about the offense’s direction, with the head coach saying that his rookie quarterback is “really ahead of any rookie quarterback I’ve ever been around.”
This doesn’t mean Watson will start the season opener, but it’s evident that his head coach hasn’t closed that door the way the Bears brass has with Trubisky.
While Trubisky’s development will be one of our main areas of focus this year and the years to come, we simply can’t ignore what is going on with other rookie quarterbacks from this draft class – especially the other first-rounders. Watson, in particular, is of high interest because he seems to be on the fast track to starting and because his development path seems to be in stark contrast to Trubisky’s.
It will be understandable if Bears fans become frustrated if they see Watson play early while Trubisky is relegated to snaps with the second or third string. But in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t mean much if Watson is starting right away and Trubisky isn’t.
Because of the team’s top-flight defense and skill position players on the offensive side of the ball, Houston is in a better position to push the envelope in developing a quarterback like Watson. Save for having a star running back, the Bears don’t have any of the luxuries the Texans have, which makes it more difficult for them to throw Trubisky into the deep end and start him right away.