Deshaun Watson has already accomplished a lot in his short NFL tenure. In his fourth season as the Houston Texans quarterback, he’s built an impressive list of achievements. Some of these include: two playoff appearances with the Texans, two Pro Bowl selections, first player in NFL history with over 4,000 passing yards, over 25 touchdown passes, over 500 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns in a single season, quickest player in NFL history to record 50 passing touchdowns and 10 rushing touchdowns.
Now, Watson is the star of the latest Amazon Web Services (AWS) advertisement showcasing his remarkable talents and incredible feats as measured by Next Gen Stats, powered by AWS. The new ad is set to air on national TV Sunday, October 11, so we're offering a sneak preview of what everyone will see this Sunday.
In filming this ad, we also had the opportunity to sit down with Watson to discuss how Next Gen Stats contribute to his role as a star NFL player. NFL player tracking, also known as Next Gen Stats, is the capture of real time location data, speed, and acceleration for every player, every play, on every inch of the field. Sensors throughout the stadium track tags placed on players' shoulder pads, charting individual movements within inches.
In this exclusive Q&A, Watson speaks about the importance of advanced stats, how he uses them as a quarterback, and how AWS is helping bring fans closer to the sports they love through technology and advanced statistics.
Q: How often do you or your teammates evaluate the NFL’s Next Gen Stats powered by AWS?
Me and my teammates [evaluate Next Gen Stats] pretty much every day, especially on game days. For us to continue to have information coming in, to help us out throughout the week, we evaluate it pretty much every day. If not every day, every other day. So we definitely make sure we stay on top of that.
Q: Have Next Gen Stats helped improve your performance at all?
Next Gen Stats have helped me improve my performance based on different areas that I need to of focus on. When I'm in the pocket or when I'm rolling out to the right rather than when I'm rolling to the left, I can see if the percentages are a little higher or a little lower. I can focus on where I can continue to create more plays for the offense to be more successful. It's very detailed in the information that I love, that can help my game [and] take it to another level.
Q: Next Gen Stats have helped me improve my performance based on different areas that I need to of focus on. When I'm in the pocket or when I'm rolling out to the right rather than when I'm rolling to the left, I can see if the percentages are a little higher or a little lower. I can focus on where I can continue to create more plays for the offense to be more successful. It's very detailed in the information that I love, that can help my game [and] take it to another level.
Yes, Next Gen Stats definitely helped me appreciate the talent of the game and talents of my opponents. Some guys, you realize, on film you might not recognize how good they are in certain areas, especially on [certain] parts of the field: red zone, out in the field, man coverage, zone coverage. But once you get that Next Gen Stats, you can see the percentage of balls completed versus defensive back, or the areas of running—you know, towards the right, or power plays down the middle, things like that. It really helps you appreciate how good a person is.
Q: Are there any Next Gen Stats you'd like to see made available for fans, broadcasters, players, or teams?
One thing that I would love to see for Next Gen Stats is something that would help me, and probably a lot of quarterbacks. I'd like to see when safeties are disguising. Specifically, how often they disguise. I know you can kind of [feel] that; but if you have a percentage, it creates that un-wasted time that you go with in watching a film. You can do your own percentage, but you're looking at [many] other things.
So if a safety is rolling down a lot of the times, and they're doing a spin-blitz team, how often are they doing that? Is it 80% of the time? Is it 20% of the time? Now I know the percentage going into a game. Once I see this, it's very high, so I know [I need to] throw high and protect different blitzes coming from that; but if it's 80%, I know this is the exact look it goes. So we still have that feel. But if we have the percentage behind it with Next Gen Stats, I think that it would just speed up the information and processing for me and, I think, for other quarterbacks also.
Q: Considering the progress you’ve seen so far, what do you think the future of advanced stats will bring?
AI think the future in advanced stats is very bright. I think it's going to continue to take the game to a whole other level, and it's going to speed up the game. It's going to help younger professional athletes, whenever they get into the league, to process information and get information a lot faster than what it used to be back in the day. I know it helped me. So, five, 10 years from now, it's going to expand even more for younger guys to come in and be very, very successful at a very young and early age.
Q: Do you think Next Gen Stats are even more important in the viewing experience this year, given the circumstances around people attending games?
I think that Next Gen Stats are better—especially this year—for fans who are watching at home. They can really get a feel for the experience and see the stats to get into the game of football. On our side of the field, teams like to do this. So for fans to see those percentages that they wouldn't see when they're at the game, I think it makes the game of football a bit more sophisticated. There's a real chess match going on on the field.
Q: So knowing that AWS is partnering with the NFL and many other sports organizations, does it help you appreciate how technology is playing a part in advancing sports for the players, teams, coaches, and fans?
For the technology to continue to grow in all types of sports, it helps not just the players and the people in the organizations and in the league, but it helps the fans. They learn and know more about the game, and what people are good at and what they're not good at. They can really take it to a whole other level of watching. [Not] just sitting there watching people run around and try to score points. You're in detail. This is what we need at this time—to see the stats.