Here’s a little refresher if you haven’t followed Watson, his career, and how he became the Browns’ quarterback. Deshaun Watson was the starting quarterback in Houston for three seasons, from 2018 to 2020. Then, in 2021, he was benched for the year due to sexual misconduct allegations from several women. He was under review by the FBI, Houston police, and the NFL.
In the 2022 off-season, the Texans were no longer committed to Watson in the long run as he was still under review and his court case was still pending. The Cleveland Browns reached out for a possible trade before the NFL Draft. The Browns received Watson and a 2024 sixth-round draft pick. The Texans received a 2022 first-round pick, a 2022 fourth-round pick, a 2023 and 2024 first-round pick, a 2023 third-round pick, and a 2024 fourth-round pick. A massive haul for a quarterback that sat for a whole year without seeing the field.
How Did Watson Fare In His Browns’ Debut?
As Watson stepped out on the field at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas, he received a lot of boos and very little cheering. This was his first time back in Houston since he was traded to the Browns. As he was announced, he was hyped up and running onto the field. He went to the sideline to shake hands and hug the Texans owner, Cal McNair.
Deshaun Watson is back in the NFL, in Houston. Hugging #Texans owner Cal McNair.pic.twitter.com/eASLgehxIT — Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) December 4, 2022
After a quick interception by Texans’ quarterback Kyle Allen, Deshaun Watson got to show off his talent early. Well, lack of talent. It was a quick three-and-out by Watson as he threw two low passes to his receivers after an energetic run by running back Nick Chubb. A fumble by Anthony Schwartz quickly ended the second drive of the game. Late in the first quarter, Watson got the ball back and marched down the field with a mix of running and passing. All this ended when Jalen Pitre picked off Watson in the endzone. That ended up being the only pick that Watson threw all day.
Again. Deshaun Watson hasn’t played football in 700 days. pic.twitter.com/CXdjDSz9JH — ZIM (@zimwhodey) December 4, 2022
After 700 days since his last NFL game, the cobwebs were on full display. Watson and his receivers were out of sync, and Watson could barely throw an accurate pass; most of his passes were at the ankles of his receivers. Deshaun finished his debut with the Browns by completing 12 throws on 22 attempts for 131 yards and one interception. He could not get into the endzone even though Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt had a solid day on the ground. Watson added seven carries for 21 yards on the ground.
Reactions From The Browns Versus Texans Game
Thanks to the Browns’ defense and special teams, Cleveland was able to walk out of Houston with a win. Wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones returned a punt for a 60-yard touchdown in the second quarter. In the third quarter, cornerback Denzel Ward recovered a fumble that linebacker Tony Fields forced and returned for a four-yard touchdown score. Speaking of Tony Fields, he intercepted Kyle Allen in the fourth quarter and returned it for a 16-yard touchdown. When the Browns were able to get across the field, kicker Cade York was able to bail them out with field goals. He had two on the day.
Leading up to Week 13’s game against Houston, quarterback Jacoby Brissett had filled in for the suspended Watson. Brissett led the team to a 4-7 record through the first 12 weeks of the season. Through 12 weeks, he finished with 2,608 passing yards, 12 touchdowns, six interceptions, and four lost fumbles. He added 238 yards on the ground and two touchdowns. Brissett was a serviceable back for the Browns and may see another start if Watson continues to struggle on the field.
On Sunday, December 11, Deshaun Watson will look to bounce back as the Cleveland Browns travel to Cincinnati to play divisional rivals, the Bengals. The Browns are currently third in the AFC North with a record of 5-7. The Bengals are second in the AFC North with a record of 8-4. So will Watson be a bust for the Browns’ front office, or will he shake off the rust and return to proper form?