As Deshaun Watson heads out to practice, Browns fans should know that this is just the beginning of many changes

Deshaun Watson will go to a regular season practice field on Wednesday. What that means for the Cleveland Browns is very different from the unfulfilled hopes and dreams of September.

When the 2022 season started, it was Roof For the Browns (3-6) it was the playoff opposing team’s handover to Watson in Week 13. But something akin to the basement was revealed for several reasons.

The only thing that matters now is the fact of the franchise. The harsh reality is that Watson’s return from an 11-match suspension is the starting point. It’s an opportunity to put a team on the field around him and then judge precisely what pieces Watson can lift, versus which positions the front office and coaching staff will need to replenish in the off-season. The fact remains that this no longer looks like a team that can be fixed by simply plugging Watson into an NFL regular season game for the first time in 23 months. There are many problems to solve, from training to talent to injuries.

Adding the issue of patience on top of all this isn’t going to help anyone. Not Watson. Not the head coach, Kevin Stefanski. Not general manager Andrew Perry. And it’s certainly not all Browns fans looking at the quarterback change as some sort of cure-all for this restless and lethargic start.

Deshaun Watson is eligible to return to play with the Cleveland Browns in Week 13 after an 11-game suspension. He was ordered to pay a $5 million fine after 24 women accused him in civil lawsuits of varying degrees of sexual assault and sexual misconduct during massage therapy sessions. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images)

Don’t be delusional about Watson’s transformation

Of course, that’s not what many Browns fans want to hear. Part of him wants to believe that splitting the next two games against the Buffalo Bills and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, then offloading a 4-7 team to Watson in Week 13 puts Cleveland into a turnaround down the stretch. That finisher under Watson has to assume the defense can suddenly stop opposing run games or Watson shows no delay in his layoff.

Not to mention the simple fact that an offensive coach like Stefanski and an elite quarterback like Watson still need a great deal of direct work in the game to learn the best synergy between them. If you think this isn’t a real thing, see the unfolding Denver Broncos debacle between Russell Wilson and playing coach Nathaniel Hackett. Or consider that after three consecutive 13-3 seasons and back-to-back league MVP awards for Aaron Rodgers, the Green Bay Packers are resident He complains about coach Matt LaFleur’s description of his offensive plan.

Finding a groove with the best quarterbacks can take a lot of time and patience. Anyone in Brown’s orbit who doesn’t understand this is setting themselves up for great frustration. It is also self-inflicted because everyone who has invested in this situation must understand that some kind of inverted switch of a mediocre team is an illusion. Everyone is being warned now and here. If you’ve been pulling your hair out after some uneven performances from Watson and the Browns, part of that is on you. And if you’re a stroke because Watson couldn’t pull off six straight wins to close out the season, this is it All upon you.

There is a decent frame of reference for predictions to draw from recent history. If you want a similar situation in terms of a quality quarterback addition, check out the 2017 San Francisco 49ers. This team acquired Jimmy Garoppolo as a starter in Week 9 of the regular season. He wouldn’t start his first game until week 13. Amazingly, he finished the schedule with five straight wins. But it was a double-edged sword that I talked about with coach Kyle Shanahan almost 18 months later. For the coaching staff, acquiring Garoppolo and making his debut with the team in 2017 wasn’t the franchise destination. It was just a road map and stepping stone to an eventual Super Bowl appearance.

As Shanahan told me in the summer of 2019, “Jimmy finished 5-0 [to the 2017 season] Maybe he was a little deceptive when it came to how much work we had to do then and still have to do now. It is part of the foundation, but there is still a process of figuring out how to build on top of the foundation. We’re still figuring that out. We feel good about it, but there is work to be done.”

Six months after Shanahan said, the 49ers and Garoppolo have advanced to the Super Bowl. It took quite a bit of modification to get the menu right. Changes in the coaching staff. Changes to the list. Even the scheme changes and how Shanahan called a game with Garoppolo in the saddle.

This Browns roster is far ahead of the 2017 49ers’ roster, but I still think of the San Francisco team when I think of what awaits Watson and the Browns on the football field. Garoppolo and Shanahan went the distance for five matches to learn a few things about each other and understand compatibility with the surrounding roster. The Browns would have a similar six-game experience with Watson. Maybe they score gold and win the six. The result may be much less than that. But the knowledge gained is communication, interaction, film, and the end results that will undergo a full autopsy in the off-season.

MIAMI, FL - FEBRUARY 02: San Francisco 49ers' Coach Kyle Shanahan speaks with #10 Jimmy Garoppolo before Super Bowl LIV against the Kansas City Chiefs at Hard Rock Stadium on February 02, 2020 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Head coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers speaks with Jimmy Garoppolo prior to Super Bowl LIVE on February 2, 2020 in Miami. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

What can Watson bring to the field in 2022?

Every bit of data gained becomes something for Perry to pop off the list. Each play or foul caught becomes a training point or schematic adjustment for Stefanski. And the entire process that unfolds becomes a lesson to fans who may have thought the addition of a major quarterback changes everything. Could that happen? surely. If it’s a transformational midfielder like Tom Brady or the last missing piece like Matthew Stafford. But as Wilson showed us in Denver, it can get really bad.

The key for Cleveland is to carefully point the needle toward trying out the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Los Angeles Rams. And the part of those experiences that worked best was having the high-level talent around that made a difference.

When Cleveland is completely healthy some of that talent. More additions could be made this season. Not to mention the moves necessary to shore up the run defense and weaken the defensive scheme that appears to be an extension of coordinator Joe Woods. But what needs to be understood is that Watson won’t answer whether Jadeveon Clowney is a viable defensive piece after 2022. Watson won’t solve the defensive tackle deficit. He can’t make the offensive line healthier or add depth where it matters most.

What Watson can do are the only things fans should expect from him in the final six games of 2022. Play clean and flawless. Protect the soccer ball from fluctuations. Develop a rhythm with Stefanski. Stay healthy and find answers about which skill mode best suits players for your game. If he can do all of those things, he’ll be exactly what Cleveland needs from this shortened window that eventually creates 2023.

The rest of the equation is down to Stefanski and Berry, and whoever the coordinators will be next season is figuring out how to support or pivot parts of the roster and scheme. For fans, there’s only one brutal mission that should last until next season.

Find the bright side and cultivate patience. This fan base is so demanding after all these years, but failing to reach it now guarantees more pain and frustration they already know so well.

#Deshaun #Watson #heads #practice #Browns #fans #beginning

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *