I hate the Chiefs. We still owe them about 45 unanswered points from that playoff game, and while “Avenge Brian Hoyer!” ain’t exactly “Remember the Alamo!” as a rallying cry, I still want to put a boot in their asses in the worst way.
But I don’t think it’s going to happen this weekend.
As we’ve noted here, rookie quarterbacks are a Jekyll-and-Hyde bunch. The main reason is obvious: When all you’ve got on a guy is college game tape, it’s hard to project how he’ll fare against a pro defense. Once you’ve got a few games of pro tape on him, though, he’s just another rookie. Most first-year quarterbacks’ stats are real rollercoasters: Here’s Tom Brady’s first season as a starter. Notice a pattern? Even Tom Terrific was boom-and-bust his first year, especially the first part of his first year. Week Five, for instance, he was amazing: 16-for-20 (80%!), three touchdowns, no picks, no sacks, for a total rating of 148.3 in a blowout win in Indianapolis. Week Six, though… 25-for-38, 2 TDs, 4 picks, 2 sacks, for a total rating of 57.1 in a loss against Denver.
You’ll probably recall that the Patriots went on to win the Super Bowl that year, so there’s certainly hope, but Watson’s current statistical pace is, shall we say, unlikely to continue.
Want more? Peyton Manning, another candidate for “Best Quarterback of All Time,” had a similar rookie season. He posted passer ratings in the 50s and 60s before figuring it out for a game against the 49ers… after which he went right back to interception-hucking mediocrity — 30-of-52 (57%), 2 TD, 2 picks in a loss to the Patriots.
It even works the other way. Here’s JaMarcus Russell’s first year. Graph out those completion percentages and quarterback ratings — it looks like a heart attack EKG. Notice also that Russell looked great his first two starts: 23-for-31 (74%), 224 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, QBR of 91.3 in the last game of the 2007 season against San Diego; 17-of-26 (65%), 2 TDs, no picks, QBR of 111.1 in 2008’s season opener against Denver.
Still not convinced? Here are last year’s bigtime rookie QBs, upon whom the fates of their franchises hang for the next decade: Jared Goff and Carson Wentz. Wentz, in particular, looked great for the first four games… you know, right up until defensive coordinators had a decent body of pro tape on him. Then it didn’t go so well — his stats started dropping like a rock, en route to an Osweilerian overall efficiency: 62% completions, 16 TD, 14 INT, 79.3 rating on the year. Note also that he threw almost half of his season’s total TDs in those first four games — 7, vs. just 9 for the rest of the year.
Kansas City now has three starts’ worth of game tape on Deshaun Watson.
They’re also one of the league’s better defenses. Most importantly, they’ve got Bill O’Brien running our offense — you know, the guy who only has five plays and loves to run them in the same order every time. It’s not going to go well, especially if we’ll have to shoot it out — and we will, because we’ve never been able to cover Travis Kelce or any of KC’s running backs, and, thanks to injuries, O’Brien’s stubbornness, and Rick Smith’s gravity-bending incompetence, Kareem Jackson is still trying to cover NFL receivers. They’ll hang at least 21 on us before halftime.
General prediction: Chiefs 35, Texans 17.
1). Despite having had some success with two new plays –I know, I know, I’m as shocked as you are — Bill O’Brien will continue to run his five other plays in the same order regardless of the game situation, because he’s BOB and that’s what BOB does. He might throw in that QB draw and that Will Fuller end-around thing once or twice, but — see above — KC’s defensive coordinator has a lot of tape on that now. And, of course, he has lots and lots and lots of tape on the Five Canonical Plays:
— the five-wide shotgun set on 1st-and-10 is always a square out to DeAndre Hopkins.
— the single-back shotgun set on 1st-and-10 is a play fake intended to set up a bomb to Will Fuller.
— the single-back shotgun set on 2nd-and-Anything is always a draw.
— a two-TE set is either a run to the worst blocker’s side, or, if one of them is offset, a screen to the offset TE. Even if it’s Ryan Griffin, who is slow and can’t catch, or C.J. Fiedorowicz, who’s really slow and can’t catch. Stephen Anderson, who is reasonably quick and can’t catch, doesn’t get used in this formation for some reason.
— if Hopkins lines up in the slot, it’s a tunnel screen.
2). Will Fuller will drop a sure touchdown, because Will Fuller.
3). Deshaun Watson’s play will be mediocre-to-terrible, at which point everyone currently calling him the savior of the franchise and superimposing his head over old propaganda photographs of murderous dictators will start yelling that they knew it all along, this guy sucks, Ima burn his jersey!
4). JC will tell you he told you so, but won’t get any love for it.