Quarterback Watson Struggles in Return

The Cleveland Browns may have cruised to an easy 27-14 win over the Houston Texans in Week 13, but they didn't quite get everything they wanted in the debut of controversial quarterback Deshaun Watson. In his first game since the 2020 season, Watson netted only 130 passing yards with an interception on 23 dropbacks and added a middling 21 rushing yards on seven attempts. Thankfully for Watson, the Browns defense and special teams came to play. Donovan Peoples-Jones returned a punt 76 yards for a touchdown, cornerback Denzel Ward returned a fumble four yards for a touchdown, and cornerback Tony Fields II returned an interception 16 yards for, you guessed it, a touchdown. The Browns offense contributed a pair of meaningless fourth-quarter field goal drives to extend the scoring to 27 points.

It was Watson's first game back from an 11-game suspension and a lost 2021 season, so a certain amount of rust should have been expected. But the Browns have invested a treasure trove of draft picks, inked a controversial fully-guaranteed contract, and endured endless criticism for acquiring Watson, so today's performance can't help but be slightly deflating. With play like today's against the league's worst team, the Browns can kiss goodbye whatever faint dreams they had of a 2021 playoff berth.

Watson initially entered the league as the Houston Texans 12th overall pick of the 2017 NFL Draft. He won 28 of his 53 starts with the Texans, passing for 14539 yards and adding 1677 on the ground. Despite a career 104.5 passer rating over his first four seasons, he has never led a top-10 scoring offense.

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