If you were to take a poll today, my guess is that Houston’s Deshaun Watson would be the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year, and it wouldn’t be close.
But the poll isn’t taken today. It’s not conducted for another two months, with the NFL completing a schedule that is halfway underway. So here’s the question: Could there by a “Terrell Davis Effect” with the 50 Associated Press voters as there was earlier this year with the Pro Football Hall-of-Fame’s selectors?
Those 48 voters decided that Davis, the former star running back, deserved a place in Canton despite a career cut short by injuries … and a career where he excelled for no more than three-and-a-half seasons. Nevertheless, in those three-and-a-half years, he was incomparable — especially in the playoffs — and so voters made him one of five modern-era inductees for the Hall’s Class of 2017.
So, what about Watson?
Even though his season was cut short after only seven starts, is it reasonable is it to assume he could gain Rookie-of-the-Year votes? More than that, is it possible that — like Davis — flashed so brightly while he played … that voters were so captivated by him … that he could gain enough to win the award?
I know, it’s a long shot, but so was Davis. And he overcame the longest of odds. Watson would have to, too. Nevertheless, this is a guy whom Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman last weekend called one of the best at his position … not this season … but ever … after the Seahawks survived Watson and the Texans.
“You played the best game any quarterback has ever played against us, and we’ve played all the legends,” Sherman told Peter King of MMQB after the game. “By next year he’s going to be a top-five quarterback in this league, and that includes the two big dogs (Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers).”
Clearly, Sherman was bowled over. Now, how about voters?
Granted, there are more hurdles for Watson than longevity, and they’re named Kareem Hunt and Leonard Fournette, both of whom would’ve challenged Watson had he not been hurt. But let’s say either … or both … tails off. Or, let’s say, either … or both … is hurt. Then what?
In seven games, Watson did what no one … no one … in the history of the NFL has by throwing 19 touchdown passes in his first seven games. The previous record of 18 was set in 1999 by Kurt Warner, and it not only took him to a Super Bowl victory that season but helped escort him to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
But Watson did more than break a record. He threw more touchdown passes than every quarterback out there except Philadelphia’s Carson Wentz, who’s tied with Watson for the league lead at 19 and is a leading MVP candidate. Like Wentz, Watson was voted his conference’s Offensive Player of the Month. Unlike, Wentz, he was AFC Rookie of the Month, too.
But there’s more. Watson’s 103.2 passer rating is better than all but three quarterbacks with 50 or more throws. Better than Aaron Rodgers. Better than Drew Brees. Better than Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger and Russell Wilson. And his average of 8.3 yards per completion is better than everyone but Alex Smith (8.4).
In short, Deshaun Watson was a load.
“Deshaun Watson was killing it this year,” tweeted Minnesota cornerback Xavier Rhodes.
Agreed. But will voters remember in two months? Stay tuned.