Deshaun Watson suiting up vs. Jaguars but don’t expect him to have impact
The Cleveland Browns were recently coy about quarterback Deshaun Watson playing against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 1 of the 2022 season. However, they’ve reversed course and have announced that the quarterback will start Friday, per Field Yates of ESPN.
Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski told the media Tuesday that he had an idea of who would start against the Jags but “hadn’t shared it with the team yet“, which is something he had to do before announcing the decision publicly.
"I haven’t shared it with the team yet, so I wait on announcing that. We have a framework on how we’re going to handle this preseason. As you know, you always reserve the right to change your mind based on how practice goes and those types of things. We’re pretty confident in the plan we have."
Watson is currently suspended for the first six games of the 2022 regular season but he’s allowed to suit up for preseason contests. The former Clemson Tiger last played in December 2020 after he made it clear last offseason that he wanted to be traded. He ended up not playing in 2021 and was traded to the Browns earlier this year.
A former first-round pick in the 2017 draft, Watson was among the top quarterbacks in the league before he sat out the 2021 season, completing 67.8 percent of his passes for 14,539 yards with 104 touchdowns and 36 interceptions in 54 games. Also, he made the Pro Bowl three times during his five-year stint with the Houston Texans.
Don’t expect much from Deshaun Watson and the Browns Friday
Deshaun Watson fans that live in Jacksonville will surely be thrilled to see him play against the Jaguars but he will hardly play more than a couple of series. After all, it’s just Week 1 of the preseason, and it doesn’t make sense to give him a big workload, especially when you take into account that it will be a while before he plays in a game that will count in the standings.
Trevor Lawrence, who like Watson went to Clemson, is expected to start Friday, but he won’t play much. Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson told the media Wednesday that they’re not currently game planning and are instead focusing on the fundamentals. Cleveland and every other NFL team are surely taking a similar approach.
Coincidentally, Jacksonville faced off against the Browns in last year’s preseason. They had a hard time moving the ball with Lawrence at the helm and ended up losing 23-13. Moreover, they lost running back Travis Etienne to a season-ending injury. Lawrence has improved significantly since then and Etienne is fully healthy. The Jaguars’ brass surely expects things to go differently this time around.