Cleveland Browns Quarterback Situation: Assessing 2023, Strategizing for 2024, and the Deshaun Watson Factor…
As the Cleveland Browns gear up for the 2024 NFL season, their focus is on the return of franchise quarterback Deshaun Watson, who is anticipated to be in top form after facing challenges the previous year. In this comprehensive breakdown, we’ll analyze the quarterback position, evaluate the performance of key players in the 2023 season, and explore the team’s strategies moving forward.
Quarterback Breakdown: 2023 Season:
Heading into the 2023 season, the Browns were optimistic about Deshaun Watson, having had a full offseason of preparation with him for the first time since acquiring him in a blockbuster trade in March 2021. The team tailored its offense around Watson’s mobile skill set, complemented by the addition of Joshua Dobbs in free agency and the drafting of Dorian Thompson-Robinson in the fifth round of the 2023 NFL Draft.
However, Watson’s injury and suspension history resurfaced, leading to a series of adjustments. Dobbs was traded, making Thompson-Robinson the backup. Watson’s early-season injury forced the rookie into an unexpected starting role. Despite uncertainties surrounding Watson’s return, he eventually suffered a season-ending injury in the second Ravens game. Watson, now in his third year of a five-year, $230 million contract, has played just 12 games due to suspension and injuries.
Quarterback Performance – 2023 Season:
Deshaun Watson’s performance in the 2023 season was marked by challenges in staying on the field. In six games, he posted a 5-1 record, completing 105 of 171 passes for 1,115 yards with a 61.4% completion rate, 7 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions. His rushing contributions included 26 attempts for 142 yards and one touchdown. Despite these statistics, Watson’s season was cut short due to injuries.
Backup quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, thrust into the starting role, faced difficulties, completing 60 of 112 passes for 440 yards with a 53.6% completion rate, one touchdown, and four interceptions. P.J. Walker and Joe Flacco, both free agents, also had notable contributions during the season, with Flacco leading the team to a four-game winning streak.
Looking ahead to 2024:
The Browns, who finished 19th in passing yards in 2023, are committed to elevating their passing game. Despite injuries at the quarterback position, the coaching staff made significant changes, parting ways with offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt and others. New coordinator Ken Dorsey is expected to contribute to a more successful passing attack.
The Browns recognize the importance of an experienced backup quarterback and are considering retaining Joe Flacco, who expressed his intention to play in 2024. Thompson-Robinson is expected to be in the mix as well. The team is determined to avoid the mistake of lacking an experienced quarterback on the roster, acknowledging the need for a reliable backup in case Watson faces further injury setbacks.
Overall, the Browns are focused on bringing Deshaun Watson back to his 2020 form, where he led the NFL in passing yardage with 4,823 yards, 33 touchdowns, and a 70.2% completion rate. General Manager Andrew Berry emphasizes keeping Watson on the field as a top priority for the upcoming season.
The Cleveland Browns’ quarterback situation is a critical factor in their pursuit of success in the 2024 season. With Deshaun Watson as the focal point, the team is dedicated to overcoming past challenges and maximizing the potential of their franchise quarterback. As they strategize for the upcoming season, the Browns aim to build a well-rounded quarterback roster, ensuring depth and experience to navigate any unforeseen obstacles.