Texans' Deshaun Watson 'light years' ahead of rookie season

HOUSTON -- Houston Texans coach Bill O'Brien has long said a key for a young player is the jump between the first and second year, and for his star pupil -- quarterback Deshaun Watson -- that step forward will be especially important.
A year ago, Watson was learning the playbook and hearing his coach say time and time again Tom Savage was the Texans starter. Although Watson was improving through the offseason program and training camp, O'Brien said -- at least publicly -- that the rookie quarterback was competing for a backup spot. Now, though Watson is rehabbing from a torn right ACL, the Texans are building their offense around him.
"I'm light years away from where I was last year, coming in as a rookie," Watson said. "Everything was going so fast, a lot of information at that time. But having a full season and offseason with coach OB [O'Brien] and coach Sean Ryan, being able to advance my game and take my game to another level, it's been great."
Perhaps the most important step Watson has taken from Year 1 to Year 2 is his knowledge of opposing defenses: different techniques from defensive backs or what each defensive look means. That knowledge will help him know what is coming when the ball is snapped, leading to quicker decisions. O'Brien and Ryan, the quarterbacks coach, have worked on it with Watson in the classroom with film, tests, communication and board work.
"I don't think you can really be as successful as you want to be at that position unless you have a real good understanding of defensive football," O'Brien said. "I think that you have to obviously know your playbook, you have to know your offense, you have to know everything from the cadence to formations, to motions, to the plays, to protections, to everything. But at the end of the day, you have to know how the defense is going to line up against your offense.