Commentary: Has Deshaun Watson declined from last year?


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Commentary: Has Deshaun Watson declined from last year?

CLEMSON -- This past weekend I spoke with my uncle about the state of the undefeated Clemson football program. Like any die-hard Clemson fan, all his friends have blood that runs orange too, and he shared with me their concerns. He wanted to know if the statistics backed up what he saw with his eyes: Has Deshaun Watson declined from last year?

I quickly persuaded him by explaining that while Watson may not be off to the hottest of starts, the magical ride of 2015 may not start all that differently. Watson’s rushing numbers are almost identical. The latter half of the 2015 season is when he began to take a larger role in the ground game. Saving his legs will ultimately allow him to peak later and avoid any unwarranted injury. While his completion percentage is down relative to last season, his touchdown-to-interception ratio has climbed, likely due to the robust group of receivers flanking him.

The numbers from 2016 are not super sexy, but they have been good enough to defeat each opponent on the schedule thus far. As a Heisman candidate, and top of many draft boards, Watson came into the season with otherworldly expectations. Franchise NFL quarterbacks, from Andrew Luck to Aaron Rodgers, maintained a high completion percentage, not just on first and second down, but particularly on the critical third down throws. NFL scouts, when analyzing a QB, look heavily to see if there is that drop off in a draftee’s completion percentage on third down. While Clemson has been one of the most efficient third-down teams in the country the past two years (#13 in 2015 and #28 in 2016), Watson’s third down efficiency is not at the caliber of the NFL’s elite.

Through six games in 2016, Watson is 69% on first down, 58% on second, and just 50% on third down. There is a steady drop as he reaches crucial third down plays, but he also has had a similar drop off from his 2015 numbers. In 2015, Watson also failed to maintain his high completion percentage when defenses tightened up, and he attempted to get the ball past the sticks.

Not having any understanding of the team success Clemson has had, one might be concerned by these numbers. However, my uncle and all like-minded Clemson fans can take a sigh of relief for several reasons. When you factor out the first two games, against Auburn and Troy, in which the Clemson offense was a little tight and inconsistent, Watson improves to 56% on third down -- still a drop from first and second down, but less steep of one. Secondly, Watson has only thrown 54 third down passes so far. After more games, it will be easier to evaluate exactly where he stands.

Lastly, while the numbers never lie, we have to understand context and causation. Deshaun Watson’s greatest strength may not be his accuracy but his game management. He has proven when he has to put together a successful drive, think late fourth quarter against Louisville; he can rally the troops to get the job done. Yes, #4 has some places he can improve, but his performance is set to peak at the right time -- and that time is early January.

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Subject (Replies: 39) Author
spacer New Story: Commentary: Has Deshaun Watson declined from last year?
TigerNet News
spacer Do you think Joe Bama fan wants DW4 in CFP?
dchinners
spacer Re: Do you think Joe Bama fan wants DW4 in CFP?
Dugatiger®
spacer No question his accuracy on deep ball is different***
tigrrfan
spacer Re: No question his accuracy on deep ball is different***
iron4044®
spacer Re: No question his accuracy on deep ball is different***
powellae
spacer Re: No question his accuracy on deep ball is different***
lfatboy®
spacer Obviously he needs to stay for his senior season...
Memphis Tiger®
spacer totally. his performance is unacceptable
eltigre3
spacer Re: Obviously he needs to stay for his senior season...
Biggone01
spacer Nobody plays the same every year. Watson is no different.
argonaut1992®
spacer Re: New Story: Commentary: Has Deshaun Watson declined from last year?
rjohn19
spacer I differ from you, but only slightly
7173TIGER®
spacer Re: I differ from you, but only slightly
TigerByWife
spacer Re: New Story: Commentary: Has Deshaun Watson declined from last year?
schusts
spacer I assume Att and Comp are swapped in the table...
deleted
spacer He can never make another completion and he will still be the best QB ever in orange
clemson7024
spacer Re: New Story: Commentary: Has Deshaun Watson declined from last year?
CU_Kobe_24®
spacer Sure do wish he could have the additional yardage and # of
CU1966
spacer Re: Sure do wish he could have the additional yardage and # of
powellae
spacer I cannot take seriously a writer who posts a chart that
Spud®
spacer In addition, we had more dropped balls in the first game
Spud®
spacer I cannot take seriously a commenter who
phonograf®
spacer Re: New Story: Commentary: Has Deshaun Watson declined from last year?
Yoshimuf
spacer Catchable dropped balls
mrderrik
spacer Re: Catchable dropped balls
powellae
spacer Re: Catchable dropped balls
mrderrik
spacer Looks like he's doing better in 2016.***
Clemson81to85
spacer Re: New Story: Commentary: Has Deshaun Watson declined from last year?
Jcouch
spacer Re: New Story: Commentary: Has Deshaun Watson declined from last year?
Jcouch
spacer Out of the 5 listed to start this yr, 4 have face-planted
Tickled Orange
spacer I'm really tired of the chicklet journalism
silvavocati
spacer Re: New Story: Commentary: Has Deshaun Watson declined from last year?
DirtyTiger2000
spacer Re: New Story: Commentary: Has Deshaun Watson declined from last year?
Anonymous08®
spacer You don't think we "put it all together" in the BC gane?
cutigerbob®
spacer Re: You don't think we "put it all together" in the BC gane?
Anonymous08®
spacer So what else did we need to do to "put it all together" in
cutigerbob®
spacer Re: So what else did we need to do to "put it all together" in
Anonymous08®
spacer Re: You don't think we "put it all together" in the BC gane?
tigerinaiken®
spacer It's the eyes....
wesdg007
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