Deshaun Watson played meaningful football today for the first time in 23 months. He did not play well. In fact, he looked really bad. This is not a surprise. Nobody is capable of taking nearly two years off and then stepping back in without missing a beat. But it is a matter of some concern because the Houston Texans are easily the worst team in the NFL and Watson struggled immensely.
To recap, Watson missed that much time because of allegations of sexual assault and misconduct from nearly two dozen women. He demanded a trade, then the allegations emerged, so the Texans wouldn't let him play in 2021. The cases were settled but Watson was suspended for the first 11 games of the 2022 season. The Texans traded him to the Browns, the suspension has been served so Watson is now eligible to be back on the field.
He looked every bit the guy who hasn't played pro football in two years. Watson finished the day with 12 completions on 22 attempts for 131 yards. He threw a terrible interception in the end zone. His quarterback rating for the game was a cool 53.4. Most concerning of all, the Watson-led offense managed only six points against one of the worst defenses in the league. Two field goals, only one of which came during real minutes and not garbage time.
It didn't end up mattering because the Texans are so bad they gave up touchdowns on a blocked punt and interception and fumble returns. Cleveland cruised to an easy 27-14 win. It does not change the fact that Watson hamstrung the offense with how poorly he played and it's a problem for the future.
Watson looked slow and uncomfortable out there. He didn't sense pressure well. He had one or two wild escapes but couldn't make the defense pay. He didn't read the field. Basically everything the Browns feared would happen after such a lengthy hiatus, happened.
Will it get better? Maybe. The Browns have to hope it does otherwise they're screwed because they handed Watson a full-guaranteed five-year, $230 million contract. But any hopes of a smooth return for the quarterback are out the window.