Former Player Reveals What’s Holding Browns QB Deshaun Watson Back

Deshaun Watson, Cleveland Browns
NFL Analysis Network

When the Cleveland Browns swung a blockbuster trade to acquire quarterback Deshaun Watson from the Houston Texans back in March 2022, they were hoping he would transform their franchise.

Needless to say, that has not happened.

Watson has played in a grand total of 12 games over two seasons with the Browns and has not looked particularly sharp throughout that time.

He threw for 1,102 yards, seven touchdowns and five interceptions while completing 58.2 percent of his passes and posting a passer rating of 79.1 in his debut campaign, playing in just six games as a result of an 11-game suspension due to sexual misconduct allegations.

Then, this past season, Watson appeared in six more contests before bowing out with a shoulder injury, which ultimately required surgery.

During his time on the field in 2023, the 28-year-old totaled 1,115 yards, seven touchdowns and four picks while completing 61.4 percent of his throws and registering an 84.3 passer rating.

So, not much better than his first season in Cleveland.

What Is Wrong With Deshaun Watson?

Watson was once one of the best signal-callers in football during his Texans days, so what exactly is the problem now?

Former NFL wide receiver Cecil Shorts III thinks the issue lies right between Watson’s ears.

“I think a lot of it is mental for him,” Shorts said on The Dawg Check Podcast. “When you look at him play, one of his last games was against the Indianapolis Colts and when you looked at him play in that game he was forcing things. He was trying to force the big play. Force the throws. Force this ball here, force this ball there. It’s like dude, you were good in Houston because you let the game come to you. You went through your progression, you took your time. If it wasn’t there you used your feet to get out of the pocket. You hit your check downs. You didn’t have to force anything.”

Watson’s best season came in 2020, when he led the league with 4,824 passing yards to go along with 33 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. He completed 70.2 percent of his passes and recorded a passer rating of 112.4 en route to his third straight Pro Bowl appearance.

That ensuing offseason, Watson requested a trade due to his discontent with the Texans’ organization. He was also hit with the sexual misconduct allegations that offseason, and he ended up sitting out all of 2021.

It has been four years since the Clemson product was a genuinely good NFL quarterback. It’s not like Watson is old, so it’s hard to believe he is physically done.

But you have to wonder if all of the rust he has accumulated over the last several years will become impossible to shake off.

The Browns better hope not considering they gave Deshaun Watson a fully-guaranteed $230 million contract.

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