Why Browns' Kevin Stefanski is still all in on Deshaun Watson - Sport News

Why Browns’ Kevin Stefanski is still all in on Deshaun Watson

Cleveland Browns HC Kevin Stefanski doubles down on controversial QB1 Deshaun Watson at the NFL Owners Meeting

When the Cleveland Browns acquired Deshaun Watson from the Houston Texans over two years ago, the anticipation was palpable. The organization, and indeed its fervent fan base, envisioned the arrival of a quarterback whose career had been defined by dynamic playmaking and appearances in three Pro Bowls during his tenure with the Texans. Fast forward to the present, and the journey has been tumultuous, to say the least. Watson’s tenure with the Browns has been beleaguered by absences—23 out of a possible 35 games missed due to suspension and injuries, a reality that has undeniably shaped the team’s fortunes.

stefanski and deshaun watson

Addressing the media at the NFL owners meetings in Orlando, Florida, per Akron Beacon Journal’s Chris Easterling, Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski conveyed a tone of cautious optimism. Reflecting on Watson’s journey, Stefanski highlighted not the quarterback’s proven ability, but the pivotal aspect of his availability. Despite the setbacks, Stefanski’s belief in Watson is unwavering, grounded in moments of brilliance that the quarterback has showcased, albeit sporadically, due to his limited time on the field.

“Just the plays that he’s made for us over these years, I’ve seen it from him. So yeah, of course, keeping him healthy, keeping him on the field is really important. And he wants that too. He’s so competitive, so he’s really attacking this rehab so he’s ready to go ASAP.”

One such moment, as Stefanski recounted, was Watson’s performance against the Baltimore Ravens in a Week 10 game. Nursing a high ankle sprain and a broken glenoid in his shoulder, Watson managed a flawless second half, going 14 of 14 for 134 yards and a touchdown. This, according to Stefanski, was a testament to Watson’s grit and determination. It underscored the potential impact Watson could have on the Browns’ offense, provided he remains healthy and available.

“I’ve seen it from Deshaun, we’ve seen it from Deshaun,” Stefanski said Monday. “Don’t have to look very far or don’t have to look back too far. Look at that second half versus Baltimore. I mean, that’s as gutty a performance as it comes with what he’s able to accomplish on a bad ankle with a bad shoulder.

However, Watson’s resilience and talent have been shadowed by the specter of his physical setbacks. Just three days after that commendable performance, the team announced that Watson would undergo season-ending shoulder surgery, curtailing his season to just over five games. This was a significant blow to the Browns, who had seen Watson play only six games the season before due to a suspension.

The road to recovery for Watson has been a meticulous process. Recently, there was a glimmer of progress as Watson began throwing for the first time since his injury on November 21. Joined by his personal quarterbacks coach Quincy Avery and Browns tight end David Njoku in Los Angeles, this development marks a critical step forward in his rehabilitation. Stefanski confirmed Watson’s progress, noting that Joe Sheehan, the team’s trainer, supervised the throwing session. The coach’s update was optimistic, affirming that Watson is “right where he needs to be” in his recovery trajectory.

For the Browns, Watson’s presence on the field when the regular season kicks off is paramount. Speculation about the season opener taking place in Sao Paolo, Brazil, against the Philadelphia Eagles adds an international flair to the anticipation. Yet, irrespective of the locale, the imperative is clear: Watson must be in the lineup, not only for the spectacle of the season opener but throughout the season to lead the new offensive scheme effectively.

In response to last season’s quarterback quandary, the Browns have fortified their quarterback room by signing Jameis Winston and Tyler Huntley, both of whom have starting experience in the NFL. This move, according to Stefanski, was not a knee-jerk reaction to the previous season’s challenges but a strategic decision aimed at ensuring depth and preparedness at the quarterback position.

The collaboration between Watson and new offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey has been a focal point of the offseason. Stefanski and Dorsey’s trip to Los Angeles to meet with Watson underscores the significance of their quarterback’s integration into the offensive blueprint. Regular discussions between Dorsey and Watson are aimed at keeping the quarterback engaged and abreast of the new offensive scheme, a critical aspect of the Browns’ preparation for the upcoming season.

Stefanski expressed confidence in Watson’s ability to adapt to the new offensive playbook. He emphasized the importance of challenging all players with new concepts and strategies, asserting that while there will be a learning curve, it is not insurmountable. The Browns are not just focused on Watson’s adaptation but are committed to ensuring that the entire team is proficient and comfortable with the new offensive strategies.

The Browns’ unwavering support for Deshaun Watson in the face of adversity speaks volumes about the organization’s belief in his potential to transform their fortunes. Stefanski’s reflections convey a narrative of resilience—both the coach’s and his quarterback’s. Watson’s journey, marred by physical setbacks and periods of absence, remains a story of untapped potential. As he progresses in his rehabilitation, the anticipation for his return grows, not just among the coaching staff and teammates, but also within the broader Browns community.

The saga of Deshaun Watson in Cleveland is a complex narrative interwoven with moments of brilliance and periods of uncertainty. The Browns’ commitment to Watson, as evidenced by Stefanski’s optimistic outlook, underscores a collective belief in the quarterback’s ability to overcome the hurdles of the past. As Watson continues to navigate his recovery, the Browns’ future, too, hangs in the balance, tethered to the hope that their quarterback can realize the potential that once made him one of the most electrifying talents in the NFL. In this saga of resilience, adaptation, and anticipation, the Browns and their fans await the next chapter, hopeful that it will herald an era of success and stability for the team and its star quarterback.

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