Deshaun Watson’s dynamic rookie season with the Houston Texans was cut short by a torn ACL. The Giants who knew him well in college say it’s foolish to think he’ll still be showing signs of that injury.
“Deshaun is Deshaun,” Giants linebacker B.J. Goodson, his teammate at Clemson, told Newsday. “I’m not getting sidetracked about none of that. I know Deshaun. I’m not biting the bait on that.”
Watson appears to be fully healed. In his two games this season, he’s thrown three touchdown passes with two interceptions. But more importantly, he’s run for 84 yards on 13 carries. While some quarterbacks are reluctant or unable to resume their running ways so quickly after a serious knee injury — Robert Griffin III is a perfect example —Watson is showing no such hesitation.
“He had the same injury in college so I knew he’d handle it pretty much the same way,” Giants running back Wayne Gallman, another Clemson teammate, said. “As you can see, he’s already playing without a brace.”
Gallman said when he and Watson were freshmen, Watson even came back in a game and played after tearing his ACL.
“Just knowing Deshaun, he’s gonna always do his best to play in any situation whether he’s hurt or not,” Gallman said. “He’s gonna play all out. You have to respect him for that.”
Watson does pose a threat to the Giants, who have been burned a few times in the first two games by quarterbacks taking off on read options the way Watson can. Jacksonville's Blake Bortles broke a 41-yard run in Week 1. Dallas' Dak Prescott had seven rushes for 45 yards, including a long of 15 yards, in Week 2.
Most of Watson’s runs this season have been on scrambles, but the Giants know he is capable of making them pay with designed runs.
“Until we fix the zone read stuff, we will continue to see it, especially from mobile quarterbacks,” coach Pat Shurmur said. “Those are really where the big runs came last week. I thought our guys battled the run pretty well considering the type of runner that we were playing against [in Ezekiel Elliott] and type of offensive line [for the Cowboys]. Sometimes those zone reads pop out on you. That’s always the challenge when you have a quarterback that has legs like they do.”
Shurmur, of course, is familiar with just how effective those plays can be. He was on Chip Kelly’s staff when he brought the concept to the Eagles. That should help the Giants defend it.
“Having seen it now, we’ve got some ideas of how we want to change and how we’re going to play it,” Shurmur said.
And they have some players who can lend insight into Watson’s mindset and abilities.
“Deshaun is a gamer,” Gallman said. “He’s gonna come out and play. I’m pretty sure our defense is already getting ready for him. I’m pretty sure B.J. has already talked to them about what he can. We have a good defense and they’re going to do the best they can.”