With today’s win over the Texans, the Cleveland Browns advance to 5-7.
The team also begins the Deshaun Watson era 1-0.
However, it wasn’t Watson who led the team to victory today.
He spent most of the game trying to shake off the rust and get into a rhythm after a long absence from the NFL.
Instead, it was a handful of playmakers on defense and special teams that led the charge.
Even with an offense that sputtered under Watson’s debut, players on the other side of the ball found a way to secure a win for the Browns.
Stud: LB Tony Fields II
Tony Fields came off the bench today to register two solo tackles, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and an interception returned for a touchdown.
Browns Pick-6! Their third D/ST TD of the day
— NFL (@NFL) December 4, 2022
He not only played well on defense but was a focal point on multiple big plays for the Browns.
His impressive play is a welcomed surprise as the team has faced injuries to multiple LBs this season, including Sione Takitaki who was carted off the field today.
Dud: WR Anthony Schwartz
With a fumble and bad play on special teams today, the mystery continues as to why Anthony Schwartz has a job in the NFL.
My thoughts on Anthony Schwartz… pic.twitter.com/4vmzEc381N
— Michael Killi (@MikeKilli) December 4, 2022
He looked frail and unfit on the field, as the ball was easily knocked out of his hands by a Texans defender.
And he was unable to make tackles or any sort of impact on special teams.
Fans have been ready to move off him since the offseason.
But with performances like this, coaches may soon be ready to move off Schwartz as well.
Stud: WR Donovan Peoples-Jones
Donovan Peoples-Jones has been impressive as a receiver all season long.
But today, he brought something new.
DONOVAN PEOPLES-JONES TO THE HOUSE 🏠
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) December 4, 2022
A punt return for a touchdown.
He is only the second player this season to do so, joining Marcus Jones from the New England Patriots.
Aside from the punt return TD, Peoples-Jones caught three receptions for 44 yards.
Dud: LT Jedrick Wills Jr.
It’s been a rollercoaster of a year for Jedrick Wills.
He’s been a top-graded tackle at times during the season.
But he’s also had some big slumps.
#Browns waste INT and field position. Jedrick Wills Jr. beat on third down.
— Scott Petrak ct (@ScottPetrak) December 4, 2022
Today was a slump as he was constantly beaten on the edge, allowing pressure to get to Watson.
He also struggled to secure the edge of run plays for Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.
Even with the impressive play Wills can put together during stretches of the season, his inconsistency could force the Browns to move off him in the near future.
Stud: Kareem Hunt
Kareem Hunt was one of the few bright spots on offense and looked like his old self today.
He served as a solid check-down option for Watson.
And he made a few big plays in the run game.
For a player who some thought could be playing his last season in the league, he now has new life in his career under the Watson era.
Dud: QB Deshaun Watson
Today was the first time Deshaun Watson played a regular season football game in 700 days.
Naturally, he was rusty and out of rhythm as he threw low and errand passes as well an interception.
Deshaun Watson first game as a Brown
– 12-of-22 (55% completion)
– 131 pass yds, 0 TD, INT
– 7 carries, 21 yards
– 5.34 fantasy pts
That's fewer yards and fantasy pts than Jacoby Brissett scored in every game he started this season
— Michael F. Florio (@MichaelFFlorio) December 4, 2022
Though his play was unimpressive, it is not unexpected.
He will need some time to get into a rhythm with HC Kevin Stefanski’s offense.
But once things start clicking for Watson, there’s no telling where he will take the Browns.