Can the Bills stop Deshaun Watson?


The Buffalo Bills will be facing the Houston Texans Saturday, looking for their first playoff win this millennium. The biggest challenge ahead of them will be Deshaun Watson, Houston’s star quarterback, who’s coming off of another successful season leading the Texans to the AFC south title.

The former Clemson Tiger finished 2019 completing 333 of 495 passes (67.3 completion percentage) for 3,852 yards, 26 touchdowns, and just 12 interceptions. He added 413 yards and seven TDs on the ground, justifying the title of one of the most dangerous dual-threat QBs in the league.

“I think Deshaun, just watching him all the way from his time at Clemson to now he’s a, as I mentioned before, he’s a playmaker. He generates a lot of plays, he’s extremely accurate with the football and he’s a big part of their offense,” said Bills head coach Sean McDermott, aware of the threat posed by the QB. “They’ve got weapons, him being one of them, and I think Bill [O’Brien] has done a really good job of using those weapons and spreading the ball around and using Deshaun. He’s tough to stop, their team, their offense, in this case with Deshaun at the forefront is tough to stop.”

Despite all the respect and admiration shown by McDermott in his interview, it looked like the head coach had the QB’s number in their first meeting a season ago. Despite the Texans’ win, Watson was held to a miserable performance, completing just 15 of 25 passes for 177 yards, one TD, and two INTs. He was sacked seven times, with three fumbles (one lost), and couldn’t generate any offense on the ground either, with just two yards on two carries.

McDermott minimized his successful game plan in 2018. “Yeah, different team, different year. So, this will be a different game, and that’s why we’ve got to prepare with that in mind. I mean what we did last year probably won’t affect this game,” said the head coach. However, it’s impossible to not feel confident about the Bills’ chances when remembering this past meeting.

In the same game, Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins generated five receptions for 63 yards and one TD on a difficult contested catch versus Tre’Davious White. After a strong year, a Pro Bowl selection, and not allowing a single TD in coverage, White looks ready for a rematch against one of the top wide receivers in the NFL.

“DeAndre is a tremendous receiver. He’s an All-Pro player and he’s capable of having one of those explosive gains,” said defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier. “We’re very fortunate to have a guy like Tre’Davious, who can match up with a lot of receivers, I’m not sure we’ll do that this week. But we have a lot of respect for what DeAndre has done in our league and what he’s continued to do, even this season. So, we’ll try to put together a good plan to contain him and then we’ll go from there.”

Despite not committing to utilizing his best corner to shadow the opponent’s best receiver, it should be the plan for Saturday. Last season, White allowed two of Hopkins’ five receptions in the game, for 27 yards and the aforementioned TD. His performance next game should be a major factor in stopping Watson and the Texans’ offense.

“I really hope and pray that we win this game and put together a great performance as a team. And that’s all that really matters to me,” said Frazier. “If we win and move on, that’s the goal. If we win 39-38, we won the game. I’m a happy trooper because I understand, in this league, that it’s about winning. Obviously, you like to have personal success on defense, offense, special teams, but at the end of the day, it’s about winning as a team, and that’s what really matters.”