The Cleveland Browns quarterback, Deshaun Watson, won’t have any excuses in 2023.
The Cleveland Browns are heading into 2023 with the highest of hopes, and with the last of chances to make this a playoff team. With rising costs around the team, specifically regarding Browns’ quarterback Desahuan Watson’s contract, this may be the last year the team has a super-competitive squad. A lot of names are looking like they’re going to spend their last year in Cleveland this year, and that means the pressure is on for this team to succeed.
If they don’t, then a lot of guys will likely head off in free agency to go elsewhere, as the team tries to find a way to work with Watson’s $63.4 million cap hit over the next three seasons. That means the team has to produce this season; no more excuses.
Luckily for the Browns’ faithful, it seems like Watson is looking like his old self again, meaning that there should be no more excuses for his poor play. Watson was flat-out bad in 2022. People made a lot of excuses for his play last year, from how long he was out of the game, to his legal issues, to the uproar around his behavior; it took a lot out of him.
Now, however, people are saying he “looks like his old self” during the start of the offseason workouts. Even Watson himself is saying he’s better this year, already than last year. The Browns (via NFL.com) posted his comments where he talked about his improvement;
"I’m pretty far ahead of where I was last year. Last year was, as far as football, being on the field, just running a new system, trying to adapt to different teammates, different players, how guys run routes, how Kevin (Stefanski) calls the plays, and just being able to process the game at the speed I know. Being a year in and being able to talk to Kevin and AVP (OC Andy Van Pelt) about what we want to do and being confident about it, it allows me to play a little bit faster when I’m on the field."
So there you have, Watson is out of excuses.
The Cleveland Browns can’t afford Deshaun Watson to have a repeat performance
Watson’s 2022 was very bad, and most of the reasons fans gave him (new scheme, new players, how Kevin Stefanski calls plays, etc) are just repeating themselves again. The Browns have overhauled the offense and will be passing more than last year. They’ll likely have a whole new scheme molded after Watson.
There’s also a whole new group of receivers he has to learn to throw to, who will run different routes than he’s used to. These were all the reasons fans pointed to for Watson’s struggles, and now those reasons are repeating themselves.
So if he struggles, what’s the excuse then?
And to be clear, I don’t like Watson, but I don’t think he’s going to struggle. I don’t think he’ll be a Top 5 quarterback anymore, but I do think he’ll hit 3,500+ yards, 25 or so touchdowns (combined), and throw between 62-65% of completed passes.
I don’t see him having another 2022 type of season. I do think if he struggles it won’t be for any of the above reasons. There’s this thing that happens to a lot of athletes who take long layoffs from their respective sports and return. They never really come back as they were.
We see this mostly in combat sports, where a guy will be gone for two or three years, come back, and look very average, as with Henry Cejudo. We’ve also seen that happen with past NFL players, namely Le’Veon Bell. When he came back after sitting out for a season, he was a shell of who he was.
Then there’s the money aspect too. When you get paid that much money, the drive, and desire are stunted in some. Not always, but often enough to worry about, people see those huge paydays and stop putting in the same effort.
If Watson stumbles in 2023, it’ll likely be due to the layoff affecting him more than people realize. And if that’s the case, he may never regain his form, and that would be bad news for this team.