Browns trade deadline inactivity means Deshaun Watson should return to form soon

Browns trade deadline inactivity means Deshaun Watson should return to form soon

Mac Blank
7 months ago
3 min read
Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson drops back to pass vs. Colts

The trade deadline has officially passed and like most years the Browns were very pedestrian. They did ultimately flip wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones for a 6th round pick. While it can be argued he’s worth more talent wise, he has only had 18 targets through 7 games and became an afterthought in this offense. Many thought the team would make a move for a backup QB while Watson is sidelined with his shoulder injury. 

Despite the poor play of PJ Walker, the Browns ultimately decided adding another quarterback is not worth what they had to give up. This decision echoes one thought the front office has and it does so loudly: Deshaun Watson will be back fully healthy for the back half of the season.

It's no secret the Browns passing offense has been at its worst in Deshaun Watson's absence. The team tried two different QBs during this 4 game span, with rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson and former XFL star PJ Walker. After the disastrous debut of DTR, the coaching staff decided to elevate practice squad QB PJ Walker to the active roster. While being 2-1 as a starter, this Browns team won despite of Walker, not because of him. 

In his 3 game tenure with the orange and brown, Walker has only thrown one touchdown and turned the ball over 7 times. To put his average of 2.3 turnovers a game into perspective, only 2 QBs over the past 4 years have had a higher average; Will Grier in 2019 and Kyle Allen in 2022. Both understandably haven’t started a game since their stints. Comparing Walker’s average to the rest of the league, the top 10 QBs in average turnovers have a combined record of 23-28, with the two next highest Jimmy Garapolo and Desmond Ridder both being benched for the season. 

Looking at the Browns next 4 games, one would see a combined 14-17 record and think this wouldn’t be a tough stretch but two of those games are against division rivals. The Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers, while aren’t invincible, own the tiebreaker vs the Browns beating them in earlier season matchups. Losing to both teams would mean the Browns drop to 1-4 in the division, further increasing their chances of missing out on the playoffs for a third straight year. 

Currently the Browns own the very last spot, the 7th seed in the AFC but two teams below them currently have the same 4-3 record. With how important the next four games are let alone the remaining 10, the front office would not have been pedestrian at the trade deadline knowing Watson would still be standing on the sidelines in two weeks. 

In the end, the news this week about Deshaun throwing at practice is promising. Yes his movement is minimal and the routes were run on air, but it's the most fans have seen Watson do in weeks. Fans have seen this before with Watson as he was “ready” for the Indianapolis game, only to show he didn’t have his arm strength back which resulted in a quick exit.

 This week marks 6 weeks since the shoulder injury, which is good considering Watson’s recovery time was an estimated 4-6 weeks. Between the injury logistics and the way the team has acted moving forward it looks like we will see Deshaun very soon, but we won’t truly know if he is back to his old self until his first in-game throw. 

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