The New England Patriots will be tested right from the get-go in the 2018 NFL campaign.
The Patriots are set to host the Houston Texans in a Week 1 clash Sunday at Gillette Stadium. While New England is set to take on a slew of talented quarterbacks this season like Aaron Rodgers, Kirk Cousins, Ben Roethlisberger and Matt Stafford, none of them present the challenges that Deshaun Watson does.
Watson was a flat-out magician for the Texans last season until going down with a torn ACL. The Patriots received a first-hand look at the QB’s versatility last season in Week 3 when Watson completed 22 of 33 passes for 301 yards with two touchdowns. The second-year pro also scampered for 41 yards on eight carries.
Watson is expected to be healthy and ready to go when he battles the Patriots for the second time (third including preseason) in his NFL career, and New England defensive line coach Brendan Daly is preparing for wizardry from the 22-year-old.
“This guy brings some different issues,” said Daly. “You obviously want to have him contained, you obviously want to have the edge handled but one of the biggest issues that we learned last year is, you can have him, but you don’t have him.”
“Getting this guy on the ground is one of the more difficult things out there,” he added. “You can’t let him have free access around the perimeter obviously. But even when you do a good job there, he’s so elusive in the pocket in terms of making people miss, we had a major issue with that in our game last year and people continued to have an issue with that through last year and into the preseason this year. He’s very elusive.”
The Patriots received a punch to the mouth last season when the Kansas City Chiefs stormed into Foxboro, Mass. and bullied their way to a Week 1 win. To avoid letting history repeat itself, New England will have to go all out to subdue Watson as best it can.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports