What can we expect as Deshaun Watson takes over the offense? – Terry’s Talkin’ Browns

CLEVELAND, Ohio — The thing to remember is the Browns ranked 11th in scoring and were in the top five in several other categories on offense with Jacoby Brissett as QB in the first 11 games.

In their seven losses, they have given up 30 or more points five times. Keep in mind that no NFL team is over 30 points this season. Brissett did his job, and did it well.

That said, Watson should improve the offense over time. I asked some football people what the Browns offense might look like as it moves from Brissett to Watson. I heard the following:

1. More RPOs: That means “Run/Pass Option.” It’s where the QB puts the ball in the hands of the running back. He can pull the ball back and throw a pass. Or the QB can keep it and run. Brissett was not very mobile. Watson’s mobility makes that a real possibility, and a key part of the offense – especially when he’s working with running back Nick Chubb on these plays.

“(The Browns) want to get the ball in our playmakers’ hands,” said offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt. “Deshaun being one of those now… it opens up more options for us and hopefully will make us tougher to defend.”

2. More rollouts: That’s especially true near the goal line. Brissett didn’t throw especially well off the run. This could help in the red zone.

“Everybody has seen his ability to make all the throws,” said coach Kevin Stefanski. “He’s very athletic. He can make plays with his feet. He can really hurt you from the pocket as well.”

3. Taking more sacks: In Houston, the offensive line took the blame for Watson’s excessive sacks. That’s not completely fair. He hangs on to the ball too long. His three full seasons were 2018-2020. Over those three years, he led the NFL in being sacked – an average of 52 per season.

“He scrambles around a little bit and can make throws downfield,” said Browns guard Joel Bitonio. As a lineman, you have to kind of block forever. You don’t know where he is going to be sometimes, but that’s part of the game. You have to block forever for anyone else back there.”

4. He’ll throw more deep passes: The downside of him scrambling and holding the ball is the sacks. The upside is it gives receivers more time to get open – and Watson will heave it downfield.

“He has the arm strength to definitely stretch the field,” said Van Pelt. Will we call more deep balls? I’m not sure. Will more balls be thrown deep? Possibly. He definitely has the ability and accuracy to throw downfield.”

5. He’s accurate: Watson has the highest completion percentage (67.8) of any NFL QB in history who has thrown at least 1,500 career passes. He has 104 TD passes compared to 36 interceptions in 53 games.

“He throws a great ball,” said receiver Amari Cooper. Easy to catch. He’s real accurate. That’s just one of the traits of a good quarterback. The accuracy of putting it on the money right there in your chest.”

Illustration by Ted Crow for Crowquill. For the Browns to make the playoffs, Deshaun Watson has his work cut out for him as he returns from suspension.

LET’S BE REALISTIC

Watson will probably look ragged at times and his passing will be off the mark. It’s a product of not having played a regular-season game in 23 months.

“I assume there will be rust,” said Van Pelt. “It’s common for anyone who hasn’t played in a long time no matter what the position … It’s football, which he has done his whole life, so hopefully he’ll knock it (rust) off quickly.”

I disagree with Van Pelt on one point: QB is unlike any other position in football. The requirements are gigantic. The decision making is split-second. It’s not like hitting the man in front of you or running to daylight after taking a handoff.

It’s why I am preaching patience with Watson. He also has to withstand the inner pressure of trying to make big plays (and possibly risk injury) because he’s been out so long. The team needs to stress this to Watson.

NOT EVERYONE LIKES MY OPINIONS

This came from Bob (not his real name), who had strong opinions about my column saying I planned to give Watson a fresh start and cover him as a “football player.” He did ignore the fact that I’ve been highly critical of the Browns for months about the trade, etc. And that I wrote “Assuming he continues to do well off the field…”

If Watson messes up, then I will go after the Browns and Watson – in that order.

Anyway, here we go:

You’re only going to focus on football stories regarding Watson going forward? That makes you a blunt hypocritical coward and a disgrace to your profession.

“How can you give a guy a fresh start when he doesn’t believe, as far as we know, he did anything wrong that would require a fresh start? You’re not giving him a fresh start, you’re giving yourself a pass on holding him accountable for his past actions going forward.

“I don’t have to remind you that the NFL Disciplinary Committee found during their investigation and hearing that Watson committed four acts of sexual assault. … The last he spoke on the subject, he made it abundantly clear by maintaining he believes he absolutely ‘DID NOTHING WRONG’ to use his words.

Why should Browns fans give him a fresh start if he is unable to understand his actions are a detriment to the team, city and society in general? Why would you give the Haslams a pass for allowing that by focusing only on football?

If you don’t condemn and continue to pursue his total lack of contrition it is an ENDORSEMENT of his behavior. Do you truly not see that at this point? I think you do, which is what makes your piece even more disgusting… deplorable behavior and that makes you just about as big a scumbag as him.”

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