Rust Is No Longer An Excuse For Browns Quarterback Deshaun Watson

Deshaun Watson is currently rehabbing from shoulder surgery and has lofty expectations in 2024.
Sep 24, 2023; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) gets away from
Sep 24, 2023; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) gets away from / Andrew Nelles-USA TODAY Sports
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If the third time is supposed to be a charm, the Browns are hoping year three of the Deshaun Watson experience is a fruitful one. Since trading three first round picks, along with three additional picks to the Texans for Watson back in 2022, Cleveland has seen mixed results from its star QB thus far.

An 11-game suspension derailed his first year with the Browns. Shoulder injuries derailed his second. With a new offensive coordinator in Ken Dorsey joining the fold and tasked with building an offense that suits Watson's skillsets, there's no more room for excuses.

Let's be honest, since his arrival two offseasons ago the 2017 first-round pick has largely been granted the benefit of the doubt for his play. The context does matter. Yes, Watson hadn't – and still hasn't – played a full season since 2020. Yes, Watson being accused of, then settling more then 20 accusations of sexual misconduct may very well have taken a toll on him. Yes, he's now looking to return from surgery to repair a fracture glenoid in his throwing shoulder in 2024.

As true as all those things are, it's time for Watson to produce. No more talk of adjusting to a new situation or new teammates. Especially no more talk of shaking off some mythical form of rust that people have seemingly mentioned at every turn with Watson. It's become a crutch at this point to explain away his inconsistent play. 

If Joe Flacco at the ripe old age of 38 can spend 10 weeks sitting on his couch watching football only to join the Browns roster and lead them to the playoffs, setting franchise records in the process, then Watson should be able to settle in quickly next season with an offense built for him and a roster that even he has claimed has "all the pieces" it needs.

The good news is Watson has remained staunchly adamant that that he'll be ready to go for Week 1 despite still being in the middle of his post-surgery rehab.

"Shoulder is great," he told a group of reporters last month. "I’m gonna be ready Week 1 for sure."

If he's right, an attention-grabbing season opening matchup with the Cowboys awaits him on Sept. 8. There's no time to catch his breathe. Watson needs to start fast. Oh and the schedule only gets more difficult later in the season, making getting off to a hot start critical in order for the Browns to bank some wins early.

Year three of Watson will tell the Browns a lot about what the future holds at the QB position. They may still owe him a lot of money in the final two years of the deal, but if he can't recapture some version of the signal caller they traded for a little over two years ago, it will be impossible to not at least start thinking about a life with him.

The rust debate is over. It's now or never for Watson in 2024. 


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Spencer German


Spencer German is a contributor to the Northeast Ohio cluster of sites, including Cavs Insider, Cleveland Baseball Insider and most notably Browns Digest. He also works as a fill-in host on Cleveland Sports Radio, 92.3 The Fan, one of the Browns radio affiliate stations in Cleveland. Despite being a Cleveland transplant, Spencer has enjoyed making Northeast Ohio home ever since he attended college locally at John Carroll University, where he graduated in 2013.