How did Deshaun Watson’s return stack up against other players who missed significant time?
The first name I want to bring in is Kurt Warner. Now, Warner’s story is well known; bagged groceries, played in the Arena League, and then threw his way into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Yet, he didn’t actually just come straight in from the deli line. Warner was on the 1998 St. Louis Rams team as Trent Green’s backup.
He then came in with about a month of prep time after Green got hurt in 1999. In his first-ever start as QB 1, Warner went 17-25, 275 yards, and three touchdowns. Now, he didn’t miss 700 days, but the concept of needing time to get adjusted to “game speed” is clearly hogwash. Warner made his NFL debut in huge fashion and didn’t need to get acclimated to actual NFL action.
Watson’s been practicing with the Browns for most of the year and only missed six weeks of work before he was allowed back. Keep in mind, he was suspended on Aug. 30, and brought back on Oct. 10. That’s only six weeks of time he missed. So he’s clearly been able to practice and such for most of the year. Not only that, but he was training in Cleveland with his personal coach for those six weeks.
Clearly, Warner did just fine with just practice. Making the claim that players need (emphasis on this word) to get acclimated to “game speed” is really a myth, more used as an excuse.