Deshaun Watson: The Case for MVP 2020

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Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Deshaun Watson must be considered for the NFL MVP award in 2020.

Despite a state of chaos surrounding the Houston Texans franchise, Deshaun Watson is playing the best football of his career, and should be in consideration as the Most Valuable Player of the NFL.

The Houston Texans are 4-7 overall, so to consider that any player on the team is worthy of an award like the MVP is laughable. Laugh all you want, but Deshaun Watson is just as or even more valuable to his team than quarterbacks like Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers or Russell Wilson.

Part of the case for Watson’s chance at this year’s MVP award is looking at the performance of the team around him. The Houston Texans defense ranks 30th in total yards, 31st in rushing yards allowed and last in rushing yards per attempt (4.9) according to Pro Football Reference.

The defense allows the longest average drive in terms of time of possession, which keeps Deshaun Watson and the offense on the sideline. The defense has also forced the least amount of turnovers thus far in 2020. Those two stats combined contribute to the fact that opposing offenses have been able to run 113 more plays than the Texans.

On that same note, the offense has produced the second worst yards on the ground and averages just 3.8 yards per rush, which ranks 28th overall. Watson is the team’s most effective runner, averaging 4.7 yards per carry.

You can browse social media and see the general thought that Deshaun Watson is only putting up numbers because the Texans are often down and he has to throw for them to have a chance. Part of that is true, Watson is heavily relied upon to carry this team to give them any chance of winning.

Watson throws the ball on 54.5 percent of the snaps he takes. For reference, this is similar to Russell Wilson (54.19), Aaron Rodgers (53.1) and Patrick Mahomes (57.4). These percentages are based on games prior to the Seattle Seahawks game against Philadelphia and stats provided by Pro Football Reference.

Looking at the percentage of throws that come in the fourth quarter, Deshaun Watson is again similar to his counterparts with 28.10 percent of his throws coming in the final quarter. You see that Wilson (29.8), Rodgers (20.7) and Mahomes (23.1) have a similar portion of their throws coming at the end of games.

This dismisses the idea that Watson is putting up gaudy numbers due to the fact that he is throwing at a higher rate or into the closing moments of games. The biggest difference between Watson and this trio of throwers is how many of his throws come when his team is trailing.

The Houston Texans have obviously trailed often in games with a 4-7 record, and Watson has thrown 55.3 percent of his passes when the team is trailing. All of his previously mentioned counterparts come in under 40 percent in terms of attempts when their team is behind on the scoreboard.

Houston Texans News: Deshaun Watson has performed at a high level

Even with the pressure of playing from behind, Deshaun Watson has performed. Completing 140 of 201 passes for 1855 yards, along with 16 touchdowns and only two interceptions. The Clemson product also accounts for 87.9 percent of the Texans total offense, which is a higher percentage than any of the other three mentioned quarterbacks.

Watson is third in passing yards despite not ranking in the Top 10 in passes completed or attempted in 2020. That is due to him leading the league in yards per attempt. So even though Watson ranks 15th in pass attempts in the NFL, he is making the most of his opportunities.

As mentioned, the Houston Texans rushing attack is among the worst in the league. This should allow defenses to really focus on stopping Watson and the passing game, but that has clearly not slowed down the young quarterback.

Watson’s counterparts have the luxury of a running attack to make their jobs easier. Each of their team’s ground games are in the Top 20 in rushing yards and all three are in the Top 11 in yards per carry. To reiterate, the Texans are 31st in rushing yards and 28th in yards per rush.

Every game the team relies on Deshaun Watson to be as perfect as football allows. He has not turned the ball over in the last six games and is on pace for the lowest interception rate of his career. He is also on pace for the lowest sack rate, which is in part due to improved offensive line play, but also something that Watson was personally criticized for in the past.

It’s obvious that a player on a team with a losing record does not have a shot at the MVP, but the Houston Texans are 4-3 since dumping their head coach and they have Deshaun Watson to thank. The fact that Watson is thriving despite the team’s struggle in nearly every other facet of the game and after the team sent away DeAndre Hopkins is remarkable.

With the recent loss of Will Fuller the remainder of the season, Watson may have to find a way to elevate his play even more.

Deshaun Watson likely won’t garner any real consideration for MVP, but what he is doing should not be ignored. In a rough year at least Watson is giving fans something to smile about every week, showing he is a MVP caliber of player in 2020.