Deshaun Watson presents a serious problem for the Chiefs

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 01: Deshaun Watson
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 01: Deshaun Watson /

Deshaun Watson’s ability to run well has the potential to be a serious issue for a Chiefs team giving up rushing yards to opposing quarterbacks.

The Kansas City Chiefs already have plenty of prep for as they look ahead to facing the Houston Texans in Week 5. From a celebrated pass rush that features household NFL names to a plethora of skill position players who each deserve serious consideration in the defensive game plan, the Texans have good reason for postseason hopes. Now with the addition of rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson, the Texans are primed for not only January hopes but of a deeper run of success in the coming seasons.

For the Chiefs in particular, Watson as a quarterback presents another issue beyond being the best signal caller that Houston has had in years. Watson can also run very well. This is going to be a major concern (or at least a defensive focus) for the Chiefs on Sunday night.

It was only a few days ago that Kirk Cousins frustrated the Chiefs defense on multiple occasions in the fourth quarter. What looked like a defensive stop that would finish the series (and maybe even the game) was kept alive by Cousins ability to beat the defense and create the first down himself, rushing just enough past the first down marker to keep a drive alive. Instead of taking a sack, the pocket would collapse in just the right way for Cousins athleticism to let him out and even pick up significant yardage. It’s the dagger in the heart of a disciplined defense.

More from Arrowhead Addict

Through four games this season, the Chiefs have faced two quarterbacks who never run and two who are younger and are more willing to take the hit for the first down. The latter two, Carson Wentz and Kirk Cousins, yet neither of those are considered a serious threat to run at any moment. Wentz is young and athletic, but he’s also built like a linebacker, a la Ben Roethlisberger. His 4 carries for 55 yards against the Chiefs was the highest of his career by a very wide margin (33 yards was his next highest rushing total ever).

Cousins also set a career mark rushing against the Chiefs on Sunday, rushing 7 times for 38 total yards. That doesn’t like much at all, but when you’re battling in the fourth quarter and the opposing quarterback keeps a drive alive by rushing for that extra 7 to 10 yards a few times in a row, it becomes a headache that won’t go away.

If both Carson Wentz and Kirk Cousins set career-high rushing marks against this year’s Chiefs defense, what will Deshaun Watson do? The Chiefs, of course, will be keyed in on Watson’s running ability in the game plan, since his rushing prowess is such a significant part of what he brings on the field. So far this year, Watson has rushed 19 times for 148 yards and 2 touchdowns, good for a 7.8 yards/carry average. Watson is currently on pace for 676 rushing yards if he keeps up what he’s averaged since he took over the starting role for the Texans. The Chiefs have yet to face a quarterback of this rushing caliber in 2017.

It’s also important to remember that this is part of the expected package that Watson brought into the NFL with him from his championship days leading Clemson. Watson actually rushed for over 1,100 yards as a sophomore in 2015. In 2016, he rushed for another 629 yards. He also had a total of 26 rushing touchdowns in his career (to go with 90 career passing touchdowns).

There’s no doubt that Bob Sutton will keep someone locked on Watson as a spy of sorts, but even that need to cover the threat will leave someone else open, a danger on a team that boasts wideouts as talented as DeAndre Hopkins, Braxton Miller and Will Fuller. For all of their successes in 2017, the Chiefs haven’t yet faced a team with this offensive make-up. It will be interesting to see Bob Sutton’s plan to handle it on Sunday night.