The Cleveland Browns are again in a state of waiting, as the NFL has issued an appeal on independent arbitrator Sue Robinson’s six-game suspension of quarterback Deshaun Watson.
According to many sources, the league wants Watson suspended for, at the very least, 12 games, and ideally for at least a full season as discipline for his alleged acts of sexual misconduct.
“The NFL is looking for an indefinite suspension,” per @AdamSchefter on the Deshaun Watson situation.
— Michael Fabiano (@Michael_Fabiano) August 3, 2022
However, the team has been apparently conducting training camp as if there’s no impending suspension or discipline on the horizon.
It should be noted that Watson’s suspension, at least as of now, would only affect his availability during the regular season and not the preseason.
As a result, the Browns have reportedly decided to play him during their three preseason contests.
“Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the Browns plan to use Watson during the preseason,” wrote Mike Florio of NBC Sports. “Whether he plays in all three games and the extent of his playing time remains to be seen.
“There’s one last thing to remember. The appeal could potentially result in an immediate suspension that lasts at least one year. It’s possible that a ban of that duration would result in Watson being banned immediately.”
Even if Watson is not allowed on the field at all during the upcoming regular season, playing him during the preseason should pay dividends later on.
Building Chemistry Is Crucial
Traditionally, first-string players see very few, if any snaps, during NFL preseason games.
However, in a situation such as the Browns’, where they have someone new under center in Watson, it would serve them well to go against that tradition.
Throw in the fact they also have a new star wide receiver in Amari Cooper, and it would be helpful for head coach Kevin Stefanski to put his main guys out there for at least a little while during the exhibition season.
Continuity and chemistry matter in any team sport, and teams with greater chemistry and cohesiveness can defeat more talented teams that are not as together or accustomed to playing with each other.
The Browns have talent, but they’re not as talented on paper as several other teams in the AFC, and for them to make the playoffs with or without Watson, they will have to produce multiple upsets of such teams during the regular season.
Cleveland will have to, pardon the cliche, become greater than the sum of its parts, and that only happens when guys get reps together on the field before games start to count.
The Browns Will Have To Win Ugly Without Watson
In this era, many teams want to play a vertical game, move the chains quickly and put up over 30 points.
It is certainly effective, not to mention fun to watch for fans, but in the absence of a good or great quarterback, it simply won’t work.
While Watson is out for the Browns, they will have to win ugly, and luckily, they have the personnel to do so.
Nick Chubb is one of the top running backs in the NFL, and he has a stellar backfield mate in Kareem Hunt to help the team control the tempo and tire out opposing front sevens.
— Tyler Johnson (@T_johnson_TJ) August 3, 2022
The Browns’ own front seven is stout thanks to First Team All-Pro pass rusher Myles Garrett, his companion Jadeveon Clowney and rising linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, and safety Denzel Ward leads a promising secondary.
Cleveland sports fans don’t seem to care about style as much as some other fan bases, and if the Browns are able to win at least half of their games without Watson, it will make the city very happy and hopeful.