When the Cleveland Browns traded for star quarterback Deshaun Watson during the offseason and gave him a massive contract extension, the fans who supported the move dreamed of him elevating a franchise that had been stuck in mud for decades.
On Sunday, those fans got a first glimpse of what the Watson era in Cleveland can be.
The team earned a gritty 27-14 win over the Houston Texans, Watson’s former team, and although it wasn’t pretty, it was something to appreciate in terms of the team’s defense.
Watson went just 12 of 22 for 131 yards, zero touchdowns, one interception and a 53.4 passer rating.
By all accounts, it was a bad game for the three-time Pro Bowler, but Browns fans should not be concerned about him moving forward for these two reasons.
The Hostile Environment
Watson was vocal in demanding a trade last year, and the Texans sat him out of the 2021 season as they decided what to do with him.
On top of that, he has been dealing with over two dozen sexual misconduct accusations in civil court.
Watson certainly heard the boos and catcalls on Sunday when Cleveland’s offense was out on the field, and since he is a human being, he wasn’t immune from the effects of such an environment.
This is exactly what I envisioned when Deshaun Watson came back to the NFL pic.twitter.com/rkBnb5kgLA
— Ramey (@HoodieRamey) December 5, 2022
But there’s an even bigger reason to not be concerned about his play.
Watson Hadn’t Played A Regular Season Game In Nearly Two Calendar Years
The last time Watson suited up for a game that counted was Jan 3, 2021, so a lot of rust was to be expected.
The quarterback position is dependent on rhythm, timing and chemistry, and there is a huge difference between scrimmaging against teammates in practice and playing in an actual game.
It will take some time for Watson to get fully back in a groove, but once he does, this Browns team can be very good with him at the controls.