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Deshaun Watson expected to start for Browns vs. Jaguars on Friday

Touchdown Wire logo Touchdown Wire 8/10/2022 Doug Farrar
To say that Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski enjoys drawing up passing plays out of 13 personnel -- three tight ends, one running back, and one receiver -- is to severely understate the point. Last season, Cleveland had 70 dropbacks out of 13; the Bears ranked second with 35. We've already discussed how that wasn't already great for Baker Mayfield, but how will it work for whoever the hell will play quarterback for the Browns in 2022?  Deshaun Watson is out for at least the first six games, and that may expand with the NFL's appeal of Watson's recent suspension. But let's say Watson does play this season. We have to go back to 2020 for his metrics. Back then, Watson attempted just two passes out of 13 personnel, completing one for a two-yard touchdown. So, fooling a defense expecting something different out of heavy personnel, which is a foundational construct when you're passing out of 13.  As for backup/starter Jacoby Brissett: Last season with the Dolphins, he completed two of six passes out of 13 personnel for 46 yards, 44 air yards, no touchdowns, and no interceptions. So, not a huge sample size.  Stefanski has recently said that he will tailor his offense to what Watson likes (this was obviously before Watson's suspension), and one hopes it's also true for Brissett. It wasn't always so for Mayfield. © PHIL MASTURZO / USA TODAY NETWORK To say that Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski enjoys drawing up passing plays out of 13 personnel -- three tight ends, one running back, and one receiver -- is to severely understate the point. Last season, Cleveland had 70 dropbacks out of 13; the Bears ranked second with 35. We've already discussed how that wasn't already great for Baker Mayfield, but how will it work for whoever the hell will play quarterback for the Browns in 2022? Deshaun Watson is out for at least the first six games, and that may expand with the NFL's appeal of Watson's recent suspension. But let's say Watson does play this season. We have to go back to 2020 for his metrics. Back then, Watson attempted just two passes out of 13 personnel, completing one for a two-yard touchdown. So, fooling a defense expecting something different out of heavy personnel, which is a foundational construct when you're passing out of 13. As for backup/starter Jacoby Brissett: Last season with the Dolphins, he completed two of six passes out of 13 personnel for 46 yards, 44 air yards, no touchdowns, and no interceptions. So, not a huge sample size. Stefanski has recently said that he will tailor his offense to what Watson likes (this was obviously before Watson's suspension), and one hopes it's also true for Brissett. It wasn't always so for Mayfield.

For better or worse, the Cleveland Browns will get their first look at what Deshaun Watson can do against somebody else’s defense on Friday against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Cleveland’s preseason opener. Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network was one of many reporters to break this story on Wednesday.

“I do,” head coach Kevin Stefanski said on Tuesday, when asked if there was already a plan in place for Cleveland’s preseason opener. “I have not shared that with the team yet, so I will wait on announcing that. We have a framework for how we are going to handle this preseason. As you know, you always reserve the right to change your mind based on how practice goes and those type of things, but we are pretty confident in the plan we have.”

Stefanski also said then that Watson would make the trip to Jacksonville, and now we know why.

Watson has already been suspended for the first six games of the regular season due to his multiple alleged sexual assaults, and the NFL has appealed what it believes to be a relatively light suspension handed down by independent arbiter and former federal judge Sue L. Robinson. The NFL originally wanted Watson suspended for the entire 2022 season, with a 2023 reinstatement based on Watson’s behavior, and we don’t yet know what that will look like.

During recent owners meetings to approve new ownership for the Denver Broncos, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was as pointed as he has been regarding his thoughts on the situation. Goodell referred to Watson’s behavior as “predatory.”


Gallery: Deshaun Watson suspension: Everything we know (SMG)

Preseason games don’t always count with suspensions. The NFL would have to put forth a separate complaint for Watson to be suspended for the Jacksonville game, and/or for the Browns’ other two preseason games — against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, August 21, and against the Chicago Bears on Saturday, August 27. Or, a new suspension upon appeal, which specifically would prohibit Watson from engaging in any team-related activities, would have to come down before Friday’s game.

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