It’s not easy for fans to be optimistic about the Cleveland Browns.
Well, except in August when every new player is destined to save us from 20-plus years of disappointment.
But some of the Browns’ backers are pretty excited about Deshaun Watson stepping behind center next weekend.
It’s almost as if Jacoby Brissett isn’t on track to be only the second quarterback in Browns history with 4,000 passing yards.
#Browns will practice for the final time today with Jacoby Brissett as QB1.
The next time the #Browns take the practice field on Wednesday, Deshaun Watson will be back at QB1.
— Brad Stainbrook (@StainbrookNFL) November 25, 2022
Or running the 4th overall offense by yards (10th in points) isn’t better than any recent season.
But Watson is supposed to be a franchise quarterback, and they do something Brissett can’t seem to do.
That is, finish games on a high note, maybe even completing a game-winning drive or two.
Still and all, with all the Browns’ other faults in mind, what are realistic expectations of Deshaun Watson?
Does All-Pro Mean Franchise QB?
Deshaun Watson played 3 full seasons for the Houston Texans, including 2020 when he led the league with 4823 passing yards.
All three seasons resulted in a Pro Bowl berth for the former first-rounder out of Clemson.
And he was the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2017 despite starting only 6 games.
Houston won their division in 2018 and 2019, winning a wild-card game along the way.
— 🇺🇸BROWN SPIDER ADVENTURES!!!🇱🇷 #D4L (12-5) (@BrownSpiderCLE) November 18, 2022
But the team struggled mightily in 2020 after trading away wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins.
After that trade, rumors started and swirled all season about Watson and JJ Watt trades.
Houston also fired head coach Bill O’Brien after an 0-4 start amid locker-room angst.
And not even Watson’s stellar season could pull the Texans out of the muck and mire.
Why Wouldn’t Watson Lead Cleveland to the Playoffs?
Two years later, Watson prepares to take the helm in Cleveland amid debate about his abilities.
There is concern he might be rusty after sitting out the 2021 season for what he perceived as front-office disrespect.
Soon after he made that decision came accusations of sexual improprieties that the Texans had enabled.
Watching Watson practice, it doesn’t appear he’s lost a step or is any less accurate a thrower.
— Camryn Justice (@camijustice) November 16, 2022
But practice is practice and his first games will require him to turn things up a notch.
Not only are the defenders faster in games, but his receivers will ramp themselves up, too.
And the coaching staff is anxious to see how many hits he takes and how he handles them.
It’s not likely Watson forgot how to play the game since 2021, but he may need some time to return to form.
What Are Reasonable Expectations?
Simply throwing for 300-400 yards in a game or 4,000-yard seasons won’t be enough to call Watson a success.
After all, Jacoby Brissett threw for 300 and 3 touchdowns against Buffalo, and even Blake Bortles had a 4000-yard season.
Watson’s success will be defined by faith.
Can John Johnson or Denzel Ward have faith that if they give up a touchdown, Watson will get it back?
Will fans stay in their seats until the final seconds trusting Watson to make a game-winning pass in difficult situations?
— Brad Ward (@WardonSports) November 22, 2022
Ultimately, faith in any Browns quarterback can only be restored with victories- at least 4 in his last 6 games.
Watson’s history allows us to expect wins using his escapability, accuracy inside and outside of the pocket, and arm strength.
With just 4 wins since 2019, Browns fans hope his success is not lost in the dustbins of the NFL.
But we think 4-2 is a reasonable expectation, while anything from 3-to-6 wins shouldn’t surprise many.