June 17, 2021

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Patriots’ plan against Deshaun Watson: Keep him in…

3 min read
Patriots' plan against Deshaun Watson: Keep him in...

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — When the New England Patriots‘ defense looked most vulnerable this season — which hasn’t been often — the Baltimore Ravens and quarterback Lamar Jackson sliced through them early and late in an early-November victory.

Jackson is one of the NFL’s top playmakers. Not far behind him is the next quarterback the Patriots will face: Houston’s Deshaun Watson.

“He’s an exceptional player who can do it all. He has a strong arm. An accurate arm. He’s a tough kid who will get hit and get right back up and continue to find ways to lead his team,” safety Duron Harmon said leading into Sunday’s road game at NRG Stadium (8:20 p.m. ET, NBC).

“We have to do a good job of just trying to keep him in the pocket, and make him beat us from being in the pocket. Don’t let him run around, because when he’s scrambling and running around, that’s when he’s at his best.”

The same could be said of Jackson, who is the leading candidate for NFL Most Valuable Player honors. Having recently faced him could help the Patriots on Sunday against Watson.

“There is some carryover, but I would say it’s a little bit different,” Harmon said. “Lamar Jackson, when he gets the ball in his hands and he’s running, there’s no other quarterback out there like him. Deshaun Watson has some of those characteristics, but when he’s scrambling, he’s just looking for where he can throw the ball down the field. He’s trying to make the big play with his arm, rather than his legs, but he can run and will run if he needs to.”

Watson is 249-of-361 passing this season (69.0%) for 2,899 yards, with 20 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He has 58 carries for 301 yards and five touchdowns.

“He’s one of those guys that can make every throw. You watch him, especially when they go empty [formation], that he can see the field so clear,” safety Devin McCourty said. “As guys spread out, the middle opens up and he can run. But if somebody shoots inside a blocker, he can escape outside, and once he escapes, he can run. But he also can take a couple steps up, see who commits to him, and drop a ball over your head for a big gain.


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