Browns Player Profile: Deshaun Watson Bounceback

July 26, 2023

Tony Camino

Star QB Sounds Off on the Offseason Grind to Get Back to Form.


Following the first weekend of the closed Browns’ training camp, we got our first sound bites from star players and coaches, including Deshaun Watson. Before any other concerns about the team even matter, it all starts with number four returning to the quarterback he was in Houston. The words from his interview after camp give even more hope that Watson is ready to rejoin the league’s elite quarterbacks.

  • Eat, Drink, & Sleep Browns: Watson locked in all offseason
  • An expanded playbook opens endless opportunities
  • Rock bottom to the best spot in his life should show on the field

Sometimes fans struggle to understand that real-life football isn’t a Madden video game, and the position Watson was in a year ago made it almost impossible for him to play to his full potential. The clarity of the quarterback situation and the team overall should lead to Watson being the player we all imagined.


Locked in All Offseason

The biggest takeaway from what Watson said to the media to me was how focused and hungry he is to be great again. He recognized the pressure that was on him and how the offense (and maybe the team) will go as far as he can take them. He seems completely engaged and focused on being the best version of himself in all aspects.

Prior to the manual report date for camp, Coach Kevin Stefanski said he got to the facility and Watson was already there, watching film. Watson spoke on how he’s entirely focused on football when he’s in Cleveland, so being in the facility when he isn’t required helps feed that hunger to improve.

Stefanski and Watson seem to mentally bring out the best in each other in the meeting rooms, as they are two intelligent football minds who are obsessed with getting better. This is the first time where the two can work exclusively together without having to game plan for another offense. I really think the effort Watson put in this offseason is going to show, and the league will remember why the team gave him that massive contract.


Expanded Playbook & Talented Offense

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The topic that keeps being reiterated this offseason is how Kevin Stefanski is transforming the offense and expanding it to things we’ve never seen. Even in his media session, Watson talked about how the upcoming offense is something the Browns haven’t had in years, if ever. The offense has ranked in the top ten in estimated points added per play since Stefanski took over, and that was with Baker Mayfield and Jacoby Brissett at the helm.

When Watson first arrived in Cleveland for camp a year ago, the team could not be 100% focused on installing the Watson offense because it was evident Jacoby Brissett would play week one and a large chunk of games. The two offenses are polar opposites, and the team was asked to make this shift 11 games in for a quarterback who had not seen live action in more than a year. An entire offseason and training camp dedicated to bringing out the best in this offense will make a drastic difference, and the Browns should be a top-ten offense in football.

I would describe Stefanski’s offense in his career simply as doing the most with less, considering the quarterbacks he had leading top ten offenses. This season is where it becomes make-or-break as the talent level is there, meaning the offense should be one of the best. Watson talked about how they want him to get them into the best possible play based on the defensive alignment, something that wasn’t always the case with past quarterbacks. Stefanski seemed like he was trying to make it as easy as possible, which creates limitations, whereas now he can take more risks because the talent is capable of making tougher plays.


Rock Bottom to the Best Spot in His Life

Football aside, Watson touched on how he was at the lowest point of his life these last few years, and how he has learned from it and grown into a more mature person. Being in his situation, the spotlight was as bright as it could get every game, and most of his life was focused on off-field issues. Being in the mental state Watson was in a year ago, it was almost impossible to compete at a high level. He was questioning who he truly was and had to remind himself of all the tough times he made it through while growing up to get to this point.

After going through some of the darkest years of his life, Watson mentioned how he’s completely flipped the switch mentally and is now in the best spot of his life. He noted his experiences and support from those close to him have helped him stay in the right mindset. Despite the headlines from the media, he also talked about how the NFL’s programs have helped him, and he did not take those lightly at all. The complete mental switch is helping Watson grow as a person and is going to show on the field, as he can finally be confident in who he is and focus on being the best version of himself.


Recap

Over the last few years, nothing has gone right for Deshaun Watson. The off-field issues caused the media to completely turn on him and only look at him in one light, which drained him as a person. His mental cloudiness showed in his play, leading to the worst stretch of football he’s played in his career. Overall, the work he has put in as a person and football player seems to show in his demeanor, and it should result in a return to elite form in 2023.

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