NFL investigators reportedly finished their interviews with the Cleveland Browns‘ Deshaun Watson last week.
And while they still have some work to do, the league said they hope to decide on any discipline by July.
This makes sense on many levels as it provides the Browns with time to implement any contingency plans.
And it also allows the player time to appeal any suspension before the preseason starts.
First look at new #Browns QB Deshaun Watson in action. pic.twitter.com/xsN5o6HFmq
— Camryn Justice (@camijustice) May 25, 2022
Whether or not a suspension is imminent is open for debate, as well as the length of any such imposition.
Lead investigator, Lisa Friel, will present her findings to the NFL’s new disciplinary officer, former judge Sue Robinson.
It is unclear how much of a role Robinson plays in determining the actual punishment with Roger Goodell.
But with many expecting the worst, what are expectations if Deshaun Watson misses the 2022 season?
Jacoby Brissett, Playoff Quarterback?
Most fans and analysts expect far fewer victories with the Browns’ backup behind center.
But maybe the dropoff between Watson and Jacoby Brissett is less than believed.
Brissett had 2 seasons with 15 starts each for the Indianapolis Colts, finishing 4-11 and 7-8.
In his first season, Brissett was sacked 52 times (10-percent!) and threw 13 touchdowns and 7 interceptions.
This play by Jacoby Brissett… RIDICULOUS 🤯🤯 pic.twitter.com/mGbvwcVZJF
— Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) October 27, 2019
When the Colts protected him better with a 5.7% sack rate, Brissett managed an 18:4 TD:Int ratio.
Brissett started 5 games for Miami last season and was sacked 8% of the time with a 5:4 ratio.
Who is to say how good Brissett can be with far better protection and a top-ranked running game?
Good defense and improved special teams along with an 18:4 ratio will win a lot of games for Cleveland.
Kevin Stefanski’s Reaction
Of course, a 36:8 touchdown-to-interception passing ratio would make it easier to win games.
And there might come a time when Kevin Stefanski lets Brissett open things up.
But as similar as Brissett’s skillset is to Watson’s, there will be some adjustments.
And those adjustments have to be worked into the lessons Stefanski (hopefully) learned from 2021.
Jacoby Brissett shook Johnathan Abram out of his shoes.
… and then he got blasted by Denzel Perryman.pic.twitter.com/ST0blmAQWq
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) September 26, 2021
It will take a lot of pressure off Brissett to allow Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt to protect leads late in the game.
And occasional misdirection or trickery works best if the offense creates expectations.
Overall, the Browns will likely keep closer to their recent 46-48% rush rate than the 40% league average.
At least initially, Stefanski will probably be more conservative and helps Brissett keep on track for 10 wins.
Expectations For Watson
By all accounts, Deshaun Watson arrived in Cleveland in playing shape right from the start.
And it is on him to maintain his conditioning and skills for another season.
Those efforts will have to take place away from Cleveland and without the assistance of team trainers.
But he can afford a conditioning guru and a couple of college or ex-NFL receivers to work with him.
#Browns RB Nick Chubb said QB Deshaun Watson is “a special player and a natural leader, an all around great guy to be around”.
— MoreForYouCleveland (@MoreForYou_CLE) May 25, 2022
More importantly, Watson’s lawyers could try to accelerate the civil court cases against him.
Since Watson won’t play, there is no reason to delay trials until after the 2022 season.
Quick resolution of the matters at hand will allow the Browns and Watson to delve into 2023 without distraction.
And Watson has 4 more seasons to prove he is worth the monetary and social expense of his services.
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