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Who Will Have A Better 2018 Season: Deshaun Watson Or Carson Wentz?

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Deshaun Watson and Carson Wentz are both coming off season-ending injuries. Who will have the most success in 2018?

Although under different circumstances, both Deshaun Watson and Carson Wentz experienced success under center during the 2017 season.

Wentz, the second overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft, silenced the doubters from his sub-par rookie campaign, throwing for 3,296 yards and 33 touchdowns (leading the NFL in touchdown passes at the time) through 13 games. 

Watson on the other hand, also didn’t disappoint and showed why the Texans took a chance on him with the 12th overall selection in the 2017 draft. The now second-year man out of Clemson passed for 1,699 yards and a whopping 19 touchdowns through the air, while adding an additional 269 yards and two touchdowns on the ground in just seven games.

Unfortunately for both phenoms, their campaigns were cut short to a pair of ACL tears (Watson following Week 8 in practice, and Wentz in Week 14 against the Rams). Now that both are back presumably healthy, let’s take a look at who will have a better 2018 season.

Case For Both Quarterbacks

Deshaun Watson
Prior to his injury, a non-contact one suffered during a drill in practice, Watson was on an unreal pace in terms of passing yards and touchdowns. Should he have maintained his stellar level of play over the course of a full, 16-game season, Watson would have concluded the year with just under 4,000 passing yards and 49 touchdown—ridiculous numbers for a rookie, who was projected by a few 2017 mock drafts to fall out of the first round.

2017 was just a preview. #TBT@DeAndreHopkins @deshaunwatson pic.twitter.com/GmyOLHqIFn

— Houston Texans (@HoustonTexans) May 24, 2018

Moreover, Watson was also lethal with his legs. His 49-yard touchdown run in his first career NFL start (Week 2 against the Bengals) demonstrated this and what was to be expected from him for years to come. In the six games he started, Watson averaged 42.2 rushing yards per game, which would have placed him second in the NFL behind only Cam Newton (47.1 rushing yards/game) over a full season.

It’s hard to argue against the numbers. If Watson returns to his rookie season form, which had him firmly in the discussion for MVP, he will undoubtedly have more success than Wentz in terms of individual statistics.

One of the most exciting rookies this season…@DeshaunWatson‘s Top 10 Plays of 2017! pic.twitter.com/4lMhwpsDxM

NFL (@NFL) January 10, 2018

Carson Wentz

Talk about a 180-degree turnaround from his rookie season. Following a season in which he threw for 3,782 yards, 16 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions, Wentz more than doubled his touchdown passes with 33 in 2017 and cut his interception numbers in half (seven), all while missing the Eagles’ final three games of the season. 

Furthermore, Wentz increased his quarterback rating from 79.3 in 2016 to 101.9. His drastic improved level of play led Philadelphia to an 11-2 record through Week 14 (the Eagles went 7-9 in 2016).

The Top 10 plays from @cj_wentz in 2017! #FlyEaglesFly pic.twitter.com/E2ht0c4jmL

NFL (@NFL) January 10, 2018

In addition, like many other top-tier quarterbacks in this league, Wentz has the ability to make the weapons around him better. Third-year wideout Nelson Agholor is a prime example; once labeled a bust after Philadelphia took him with the 20th overall pick in the 2015 draft, Agholor enjoyed easily his best season of his career, finishing with 62 receptions for 768 yards and eight touchdowns. Other players include Alshon Jeffery, Zach Ertz, Jay Ajayi, and Corey Clement, who all experienced successful seasons as well.

2017: The year @cj_wentz took over the league.

“This kid is INCREDIBLE.” 🦅 #NFLTop100 pic.twitter.com/ZbZ4SbYv10

NFL (@NFL) July 1, 2018

However, while this is not a knock against Wentz—I expect him to return to his elite level—it’s tough to foresee Wentz surpassing Watson’s stats (throughout a 16-game season) in an offense that equally-utilizes its committee of running backs like Philadelphia does.

Downside for Both Quarterbacks

Deshaun Watson 

Simply, turnovers. Although nearly 1,700 passing yards and 19 touchdowns through his first seven career games (six starts) is nothing short of magnificent, he did so while throwing eight interceptions and losing a fumble. Over the course of a full season, this would equate to a total of 20 turnovers (18 interceptions and two fumbles).

However, turnovers are always to occur with rookies. Take a look at Wentz’s rookie campaign, how he progressed throughout his second season, and what he was able to accomplish. If Watson can make a leap anywhere similar to the magnitude of Wentz’s, he’ll stake his claim as one of the top-tier signal-callers in this league and make another run at an MVP award. The sky’s the limit for Watson’s potential at this point.

Carson Wentz

The major downside for Wentz in this case is his injury itself. While Watson’s occurred in early November, Wentz’s was in mid-December. An ACL tear is typically a nine+ month recovery process; this puts Wentz’s recovery right around the start of the season. Although he has been practicing, and head coach Doug Peterson insists he’ll be ready for Week 1, Wentz has yet to take any preseason reps.

Here’s the Carson Wentz knee injury that knocked him out for the game…. pic.twitter.com/arNSZ5yQPg

NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) December 11, 2017

If Wentz were to miss the entire preseason, or see very limited action, there’s no telling how he’ll begin the season. Should Wentz be forced to miss any regular season time or get off to a slow start, that would surely open the door for Watson to exceed his success.

Verdict

This particular scenario is tough to predict, and given both of their recent injuries, their success can be tough to gauge. Nevertheless, I do anticipate Watson to have a slightly better season than Wentz. Don’t get me wrong, as I previously said, I still expect Wentz to at the very least replicate his numbers from last season. But 48 touchdown passes in a single season doesn’t occur very often (just four times in NFL history: Peyton Manning twice, Tom Brady, and Dan Marino), and Watson was right on their pace. He’s only going to improve in the years to come, and I believe he will take that next step in 2018.  

Edited by Jazmyn Brown.

SQuiz
With Deshaun Watson starting under center in 2017, what was the Texans' record for those six games?
Created 8/21/18
  1. 5-1
  2. 4-2
  3. 3-3
  4. 6-0

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