Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson appeared on Quincy Avery’s online radio show on Thursday to discuss his first season with the Browns and why he expects things to be better as he prepares for the 2023 season with Cleveland.
It was a mostly casual conversation between Avery, who is Watson’s private quarterback coach, and Watson, but there were still some interesting takeaways for Browns fans.
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Watson, who missed the first 11 games of the 2022 season while serving a suspension for violations of the NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy, admitted that coming back after an almost two-year layoff was difficult:
“It was tough, especially coming in later in the year and coming in after everyone else had played together for 11 weeks. I felt like I came in and did what I had to do and I wish we had won more (the Browns were 3-3 with Watson, but I had to get used to playing with my teammates, playing in the AFC North and playing in cold weather.
“(The coaches) also had to tailor the offense to what Jacoby (Brissett) was comfortable with and what would allow him to be his best. It was a big change (when I came in), honestly, for both me and Kevin (Stefanski) and it was tough doing it in the middle of the season.”
Watson expects the situation to be better this year as he will be able to participate in the entire offseason program, training camp and the preseason as the starting quarterback and, most importantly, everyone will know he will be starting Week 1.
That will allow the offense to fully prepare for what they want to be, Watson said:
“The aggressiveness of how we want to approach the season will be different. Last year we didn’t know how long Jacoby would be in there as the starter, so that kind of put everyone on hold at first. This year we can start working from day one to decide how fast we want to play, who are playmakers are, and really build the offense right from the start.”
An additional adjustment will come in the quarterback room now that quarterback coach Drew Petzing has left to become offensive coordinator with the Arizona Cardinals. Even though there will be a new face in the meetings - and Avery pointed out he is not going to be that person - Watson pointed out that Stefanski and offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt will still be there and he is confident they will bring in someone who will get the best out of him:
“I trust Kevin and AVP will still be in the room. Being able to have two guys who understand what I want and be transparent about the situation is helpful. I love to be coached hard and have a coach get on my ass. I know how great I am, so being able to have that in the room will be great. I know whoever they get will be a great teacher that I can learn from.”
Watson had a poor first season with the Browns, at least by his standards, as he only completed 58.2 percent of his passes and tossed five interceptions to just seven touchdowns. He remains confident, however, in not only his abilities but the potential of the offense:
“I think it will just be putting in the work. A lot of the high expectations generate from the media, but most of the time I don’t take it personally. When I look at people saying I fell off, that is just because they know how good I am. For me, just go ahead and put in the work every day and not let the other stuff bother me. I love when people underestimate me because that is when I take it to another level.
“I feel like we have the team and the people and once we get everything in place we will be rolling on offense.”
Watson has high expectations for himself and the offense, and the Browns are going to expect Watson to start paying dividends this fall on the investment the team made in him both in draft picks and guaranteed money.
Or to put it another way, it’s time for Watson to show that putting in the work is going to pay off in a big way.