At first glance, it may seem as if Donovan Peoples-Jones didn’t have a truly great game on Sunday when the Cleveland Browns defeated the Houston Texans 27-14.
He caught just three passes for 44 yards, making it a somewhat statistically underwhelming game for him.
However, he had perhaps the biggest play of the game when he returned a first-quarter punt 76 yards to put Cleveland ahead 6-5 and give it a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.
DPJ 76-yard punt return TD! @dpeoplesjones
— NFL (@NFL) December 4, 2022
Peoples-Jones had returned 10 punts for 107 yards to that point this season, but that was the first one he had taken back for a score in 2022.
He also started to show perhaps the beginnings of some chemistry with new quarterback Deshaun Watson on a play-action set where he ran an out route and made the catch for a 27-yard reception.
Deshaun Watson with PA Over Route to Donovan Peoples-Jones to flip the field. pic.twitter.com/qXS9ihhDaG
— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) December 4, 2022
Peoples-Jones Could Thrive Playing Next To Watson
For the last three years, the Browns have been hoping that Peoples-Jones, a sixth-round choice in the 2020 NFL Draft, would develop into a difference-maker.
He has shown flashes of strong play, but he only topped out at 597 receiving yards and three touchdowns last season.
Coming into Sunday’s tilt with the Texans, he had posted 593 yards through the first 11 games of the 2022 campaign.
Peoples-Jones’ speed and hands are two valuable attributes that Watson can take advantage of moving forward, especially given Watson’s ability to not only throw the deep ball but do so accurately.
With Jacoby Brissett under center while Watson was serving his 11-game suspension, the Browns had to play conservatively in their passing game, but those days may be over.