Browns Coach Confident QB Deshaun Watson Can Still Be A Pro Bowl Player: ‘I’ve Seen Him Do It’

The 2023 season effectively marks the true beginning of the Deshaun Watson Era in Cleveland. While the Browns gave up three first-round picks and then some to get the then-embattled quarterback last year, the real talk has been about the fully guaranteed five-year, $230 million contract they signed him to.

That contract was structured in such a way as to cater to his obviously upcoming but then still pending NFL suspension following a series of sexual misconduct allegations. The suspension began as a full season before being reduced to 11 games—just enough to allow Watson accrue a season of experience.

The end result is that the former three-time Pro Bowler played largely mediocre football across six games, going 3-3 as a starter, sometimes dragged across the finish line by his teammates. But the Browns believe he can return to that Pro Bowl form.

I think confidence for me comes from seeing it, and I’ve seen him do it”, head coach Kevin Stefanski said, via the team’s website, about Watson. “I saw him do it in those games last season. I know it wasn’t perfect. I certainly wasn’t perfect. We weren’t perfect around him and as we all know, it’s not a one-man show. It’s a team game and we didn’t have as much team success as we would’ve liked late in the season there”.

The 12th-overall draft pick in 2017, Watson made the Pro Bowl in his second, third, and fourth seasons. He was on pace to win at least the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award back in 2017, throwing for 19 touchdowns in just six starts before tearing up his knee.

His best season came in his last full year in 2020, in spite of the fact that the Texans finished just 4-12. Statistically, he was excellent, throwing for 4,823 yards with 33 touchdowns against just seven interceptions, averaging just under nine yards per pass attempt.

Even before dozens of sexual misconduct allegations surfaced in 2021, Watson was already refusing to play, demanding that Houston trade him. He ended up sitting out that entire season. It wasn’t until it was determined that he wouldn’t face any criminal charges that the trade market opened up. He’s since settled out of court dozens of civil lawsuits.

In his six starts in Cleveland at the end of last season, Watson only completed 99 of his 170 pass attempts. He threw for 1,102 yards with seven touchdowns to five interceptions. His final game of the season came against the Steelers, against whom he went 19-for-29 for 230 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions in a losing effort. He also took seven sacks in that game and fumbled.

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