As great of an offseason as the Cleveland Browns have had, there are some national media pundits who aren’t buying into them. In fact, most are not.
Despite having a stacked roster, which most consider the most talented it’s been in quite some time, many believe that this team is still going to finish last in the AFC North.
Granted, this division could be the best in the league this season. The Cincinnati Bengals are going to be in the conversation regardless, the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers have made improvements to their squads.
For some reason, NFL Network correspondent Adam Rank has the team going 6-11:
Browns fans took note of that, and so did safety Juan Thornhill:
Yo Adam!!! Just checking on you man. Are you okay?? https://t.co/Cnz6602Dhe— The Chosen Juan ♂️ (@Juan_Thornhill) August 9, 2023
It’s no mistake that the national media are low on the Browns this season but it doesn’t take long for anyone to connect the dots as to why this is the case:
It isn’t because of football reasons lol it’s clear in how they talk— MoreForYouCleveland (@MoreForYou_CLE) September 4, 2023
The reason is simple: QB Deshaun Watson.
The off-the-field issues that led him to be traded to Cleveland are well-documented. While it does not impact logical analysis of on-the-field ability, many have good reason to have a negative outlook on Watson.
On the field, Watson looked nothing like the quarterback he was in Houston. It is easy to write that off as shaking off the rust but until he proves he is the player he once was, along with the far more important off-the-field issues, optimism is not coming his way.
Fast forward to this preseason and Watson looks completely different from last season. I was able to attend a training camp practice this year. His athleticism is still there but his processing, ability to maneuver and command the offense stood out to me. Getting a full offseason seems to have him in the right space.
Deshaun Watson:— Hayden Grove (@H_Grove) September 6, 2023
"Last year was a tricky time where I was learning everything, but I don't want to just get caught up on, 'Hey, Houston this, Houston that.' I had a lot of fun, a lot of success in Houston, but I want to have that success and start something new in Cleveland."
Separating Watson the person from Watson the player is tough as Kyle Brandt noted on The NFL Network:
The Browns look pretty good.— Kyle Brandt (@KyleBrandt) August 17, 2023
They’re still not easy to talk about. pic.twitter.com/6XGYe8IZ1D
Watson could potentially return to a top-10 level and the Browns will be in the playoff discussion in a loaded AFC. The national media would have no choice but to talk about the Browns, but again it wouldn’t be a surprise if they didn’t and that is okay and understandable.