There have been times this season when it looks like the Houston Texans offense is sleepwalking.
They were wide awake Sunday.
Deshaun Watson had one of the best performances of his NFL career, and Will Fuller decimated the Atlanta Falcons secondary on the way to a 53-32 victory for the Texans.
The win moves Houston to 3-2, keeping pace in a competitive AFC South race. All four teams in the division entered the weekend with identical 2-2 records.
Watson threw for a season-high 426 yards while adding another 47 on the ground. His quarterback rating was a perfect 158.3.
The Falcons dropped to 1-4 and look like one of the NFL's strongest candidates for an early-season coaching change. Dan Quinn entered the 2019 season on the hot seat and is well on his way to his worst year as an NFL coach—and this is before mentioning he took over as the team's defensive coordinator.
Suffice it to say, things could be better in Atlanta.
QB Deshaun Watson: 28-of-33 passing, 426 yards, five TDs; four carries, 47 yards
RB Carlos Hyde: 21 carries, 60 yards, TD
WR Will Fuller: 14 receptions, 217 yards, three TDs
WR DeAndre Hopkins: seven receptions, 88 yards
QB Matt Ryan: 32-of-46 passing, 330 yards, three TDs, one INT
RB Devonta Freeman: 11 carries, 30 yards; five receptions, 40 yards, TD
WR Julio Jones: three receptions, 42 yards
WR Calvin Ridley: five receptions, 88 yards, TD
Watson, Fuller Connection Soars
This was as close as a quarterback get to perfection without literally completing every pass for a touchdown, NFL Blitz-style. Watson was brilliant inside the pocket, reeling off accurate passes of the short, medium and long varieties as the Falcons could do nothing to stop him. He was scampering off for gains on the ground in the rare instances of his receivers being covered.
Fuller would almost certainly be a bigger star if it weren't for a rash of injuries. He's habitually inconsistent when he's in the lineup, reeling off mega performances before disappearing for weeks on end—most of the time due to being injured.
A healthy Fuller is a huge boost to the Texans passing game, and he exploded time and again as Atlanta looked to take out Hopkins.
The results here are obviously far from replicable, and Fuller's history suggests a Sammy Watkins level of boom-or-bust performance. But if he can actually stay on the field, those occasional booms will be massive for the Texans offense.
Dan Quinn Might Want to Start Researching Properties
The Falcons have been in a perpetual decline since blowing a 28-3 lead to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI. It didn't happen all at once. They returned to the playoffs in 2017 before falling to the eventual champion Philadelphia Eagles—not a bad result.
The foundation has been crumbling at a rapid rate ever since. Last season's 7-9 mark undersold how discombobulated the Falcons looked, particularly on defense, and things have only continued to decline despite talent befitting divisional contention. There's no reason a team with Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, Austin Hooper and Devonta Freeman should be struggling to put up points.
The defense is less talented but a similar story, featuring enough talent that Atlanta had a reasonable expectation to have a bounce-back year in 2019.
That hasn't happened. Quinn, in his fifth season with Atlanta, already had one of the NFL's hottest seats coming into this weekend, and matters are only going to be worse after an abysmal defensive effort.
The Texans travel to Kansas City for what should be a high-scoring matchup against the Chiefs. The Falcons make a trip to Arizona to play the Cardinals.