Watson to Fuller too much for Falcons

Deshaun Watson torched the Falcons’ secondary for 426 yards and 5 touchdown passes on Sunday. Wide receiver Will Fuller had a record-setting afternoon, hauling in 14 receptions for 217 yards and 3 touchdowns.

The Texans were able to effectively targeted Atlanta’s staple coverages all day with some great play design. This touchdown pass to Will Fuller was a perfect example.

Watson TD broadcast angle

Below you can see the route design. This was a scissors concept.

Screen Shot Courtesy of NFL.com Gamepass

The Falcons were playing cover-3. They also dropped 8 into coverage. How does a receiver get that wide open with 8 men in coverage? That’s a great question – one of many that Dan Quinn and the Falcons Defense will need to find an answer to soon before their season spirals out of control.

But back to the play. You can see that each of the circled defenders were responsible for a deep 3rd of the field.

Screen Shot Courtesy of NFL.com Gamepass

The cornerback at the top of the screen, Isaiah Oliver, only saw DeAndre Hopkins threatening his deep third. He did not see Fuller coming from the other side.

Screen Shot Courtesy of NFL.com Gamepass

Oliver locked onto Hopkins and followed him across the field. The cornerback to the other side of the field, Desmond Trufant, recognized the route combination. He saw Hopkins coming his way from the opposite side of the formation and stayed in his zone. Both Atlanta cornerbacks not seeing the field the same way left Fuller wide open for the touchdown.

Screen Shot Courtesy of NFL.com Gamepass

Watson TD pass with cover 3 shown

Another element to consider here is the boot-stop action by quarterback Deshaun Watson. His initial movement looked to be a boot away from Isaiah Oliver’s side of the field. Since the Falcons were playing zone coverage, Oliver was watching the route concepts through to the quarterback. He very well might have seen Watson start to roll out and assumed this was going to be a boot to the other side of the field. This likely made Oliver lock onto Hopkins.

Watson boot stop

Add in the 7-man protection to give the routes time to develop downfield, and you’ve got a great play design from start to finish. Great things can happen when you let your stud quarterback throw the ball instead of DeAndre Hopkins, huh?

The Texans utilized a fair amount of play-action all afternoon. With the time this gave to Watson, he was able to pick apart Atlanta’s secondary for some big plays downfield. The Texans have struggled to protect Watson so far this season, a continuation of the same problems they faced in 2018. However, they kept him clean on Sunday, preventing Atlanta from getting any sacks. As you can see below, Watson can be special when he has time:

Watson Seed offsides

Watson 32 yds touch

Watson to Hopkins

Watson TD pass 3rd down

Watson doesn’t get quite enough attention for how good of a quarterback he is. He’s off to a great start this season, completing nearly 70% of his passes for 1,364 yards, 11 touchdowns and just 1 interception. If his O-line can keep him clean, the Texans have a great chance of repeating as AFC South division champs and making some noise in the AFC.

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