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Browns Offense Should have Deshaun Watson Excited

The Cleveland Browns may be 2-3 with a disastrous defense, but the offense is thriving and Deshaun Watson has to be excited about the offense he is set to take over in week 12.
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As the Cleveland Browns defense continues to be the focal point of warranted criticism, Deshaun Watson must be thrilled about the offensive efficiency the team has showcased, a unit he is poised to quarterback as soon as December 4th.

Watson has missed the first five games of the season and is now permitted to go to the facility, receive treatment and attend meetings as he serves his suspension for what the NFL labeled predatory behavior in connected with two dozen settled lawsuits from women alleging sexual assault and misconduct. With another six weeks to go, Watson has to feel good about the direction of the offense that head coach Kevin Stefanski sold him to come to the Browns along with $230 million guaranteed.

Coming into the 2022 season, the Browns had a good offensive line and one of the best running backs in football in Nick Chubb, plus a complementary piece in Kareem Hunt that could do a little of everything. After moving on from both Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham, there were plenty of questions at wide receiver.

The team acquired veteran wide receiver Amari Cooper from the Dallas Cowboys in exchange for a fifth-round pick the weekend before they secured Watson, taking advantage of an opportunity that could also help secure Watson. Cooper was a proven commodity but an unknown in terms of his fit here. There was some reason to be cautious given how poorly the team has fared bringing in big ticket receivers from other teams.

Entering his fifth season with a highly criticized contract extension, tight end David Njoku was still more potential than proof. He had shown flashes of how good be over the past four seasons, but hadn't put it together with any consistency and there were still some frustrating let downs despite being an accomplished blocker.

Donovan Peoples-Jones was the most experienced of the team's attempt to develop home grown receivers. The former sixth-round pick has had some great moments including some impact plays during his rookie season, but also disappeared in a multitude of games during his sophomore campaign.

Five games into the season with Jacoby Brissett at the helm, the Browns offense is one of the most efficient in the league and is sixth in points. They boast an outstanding running game and have a trio of receiving threats that can put stress on a defense while Brissett is currently having the best season of his career.

Cooper is leading the team in receiving yards (304), receiving touchdowns (3) and has been everything the Browns were hoping. In four of the team's five games, he's been consistently open and made impact plays. The one notable exception was against the Atlanta Falcons and their stud corner A.J. Terrell, who was able to take Cooper out of the game.

Njoku has 289 receiving yards and 250 of those came in the last three games. Two things stand out with Njoku so far this season. First, he is the most efficient target on the team with 24 receptions on 29 targets. 17 of those have been for first downs. 

Second, he has a team leading 159 yards after the catch. He's been great with the ball in his hands, maximizing yardage and fighting for first downs. Pro Football Focus currently has him second at his position in receiving grade.

Cooper and Njoku are on pace for 1,033 yards and 982 receiving yard seasons respectively.

DPJ is clearly the third option of this group, but his confidence is growing and his contributions have been valuable. He has 191 yards on the season and several contested catches.

It was already a given that Chubb would be great, but he's having the best season of his career. His feats continue to be mentioned with Jim Brown's 1963 season. Brown averaged 6.4 yards per carry and 133.1 yards per game over a 14-game schedule, the most dominant rushing season in NFL history. Chubb is currently averaging 6.1 yards and 118.6 yards per game. Brown had 15 touchdowns that season. Chubb already has seven.


The offensive line has gotten even better this year with the emergence of Jedrick Wills. The longest stretch of good health since his rookie season, Wills has been more assertive in the running game, both at the point of attack and on the move in their pin and pull scheme, but he's also become more consistent in pass protection.

With all of that in mind, the Browns still have the ability to incorporate players like tight end Harrison Bryant and young wide receivers Anthony Schwartz as well as rookies David Bell and Mike Woods. 

It's difficult to project how Watson will fare coming off the suspension. He's staying sharp with his mechanics and overall fitness and he continues to study. Still weeks away from being able to practice, it's unclear how the Browns will work him into their practices as they are still focused on trying to win games. How Watson handles the negative feedback he gets during games combined with how well quickly he can chemistry with his receivers will likely dictate how those six games go.

As much as he might respect Brissett, Watson has to believe that if he were playing, the Browns would be higher than fifth in total yards and sixth in points, potentially competing to be the top in both with the Buffalo Bills.

Given that the Browns losses have been by a combined deficit of six points, it stands to reason that Watson would have this team 5-0 as opposed to 2-3. Ultimately, that's what this season was for and why the Browns made the trade.

For all of the criticism that can lumped onto the team and head coach Kevin Stefanski, he can point to the offense and make a compelling case that if he can produce this much success with Brissett at quarterback, the sky is the limit with Watson at the helm.

None of that changes the disappointments that have occurred on defense. That side of the ball has to get straightened out in the areas it can be and upgraded for next season in the areas it can't. The fact remains that even if the defense was still this bad, if the Browns simply had their entire offense on the field, they'd possibly have the best record in the conference. It's on the organization to make this season of frustration worth it by making it the best team in the league for 2023.