Browns QB Deshaun Watson unsure of when he’ll return to form, expects step forward against Bengals

BEREA, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) – For months, Deshaun Watson has been anxious for the focus around him to be about football.

With his suspension and Browns debut behind him, Watson can breathe a sigh of relief and turn his attention to the details of correcting what went wrong for him in Sunday’s 27-14 win at Houston.

“I think last week, it was a lot,” Watson said Thursday. “The anticipation to just be back on the field, the anticipation of going back to my former team, the anticipation of playing against former teammates and being in front of a crowd that used to cheer for me at the time. So all that stuff was definitely, it was a lot.

“I'm human so I definitely have things running through my mind and through my just soul in general. But I'm glad that's out the way and I'm glad we got to win and I'm just trying to look forward to this week.”

Against the Texans, Watson looked every bit like a player who had not played in 700 days. He completed just 12 of 22 passes for 131 yards and an interception against the Texans. His passer rating was a career worst 53.4.

Several of Watson’s throws were low and bounced to receivers, something the three-time Pro Bowler believes should be easily fixable.

“It was just more mechanics, just my base and my shoulder plane and my shoulder leverage,” Watson said. “Keeping that up high, but it was just all fundamentals in that.”

Those that thought Watson would come out looking like the player who led the NFL in passing in 2020 were sorely mistaken.

“I don’t know when it is going to come back. I don’t know if it was going to be last week or this week,” Watson said. “My job is to just keep getting better, and when it clicks, it click, and everyone will feel that. Like I said, keep improving and keep trying to be my best to make sure that the team is up to the challenge and trying to score points and win games.”

Offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt acknowledged Thursday that they expected Watson to be rusty.

“I wasn’t really sure of the level of rust,” Van Pelt said. “He got better as the game went on. He really made some good plays. He did some great things with his legs, avoided pressure and threw some really nice balls at times, and then other times, it didn’t come out of his hand the way he wanted it to. You see what it looks like when it is all pretty and it looks right. I think that is what we will start to see more of moving forward.”

How long it will take to knock that rust off remains to be seen. No one seems to know.

“I don’t know if I can put a timeframe on that type of thing,” head coach Kevin Stefanski said. “I know he is working very hard. He is locked in on the gameplan and working hard out at practice. Like I mentioned to you guys before, I think there are things that come up in your first game back that you have to just correct. I think all of those things are what we are working on Monday the day after the game and into today, as well.”

This week the competition gets much tougher than the lowly Texans.

Watson faces a hot Bengals team that hasn’t lost since losing on Halloween in Cleveland.

“I mean they're playing really good football overall, everything, defense, offense, you gotta give them credit and they've been doing everything that they needed to do to pull out the wins, big wins especially,” Watson said. “And we just gotta go in there and make sure that we have a sense of urgency and we gotta go out there and try to slow them down offensively and then we gotta put up points and that's the biggest thing. So you know, you gotta give Cincinnati credit and they're doing a heck of a job to finish wins and finish games and we gotta go in there and try to get ourself a win.”

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