When the Browns opted to give Deshaun Watson a fully-guaranteed $230 million contract last season, they did so with the hope that the talented hurler — and alleged sexual abuser — would put up numbers resembling those that he recorded while in Houston.
What they’ve gotten since is middling production. Watson has looked decidedly pedestrian in Cleveland colors. And on Monday, that torpidity surfaced in a big way.
Tasked with facing off against the Steelers defense, Watson and the Browns certainly had a challenge on their hands. T.J. Watt is a menace, thrashing into the backfield to cause mayhem for pitcher and tailback alike. Minkah Fitzpatrick surveys the skies like an air traffic controller, ready to pounce on any errant debris that floats into his stratosphere.
But given Watson’s standing around the league — and his massive price-tag — it seemed reasonable to assume that maybe he could string together an above-average performance.
What followed was the absolute opposite. In light of it, many folks across the game are wondering just what that contract could look like going forward.
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So with that, here’s what you need to know about Watson’s stats from Monday night.
Deshaun Watson stats today
Watson was about as ineffective as could be, struggling too find much of a rhythm while being continuously jabbed by the likes of Watt and Highsmith.
In fact, it was Highsmith who put the first snare into Watson’s pathway, getting his sizable mittens on Cleveland’s first play from scrimmage — a dart from Watson.
The ball tumbled and danced through the air as he fell into Highsmith’s arms. But eventually, it dropped. And Highsmith found open air shortly thereafter, opening the scoring with a flourish.
It set the stage for a frantic performance from Watson and Co. There were some good moments — like a couple dulcet notes left for Amari Cooper. But more often than not, Watson struggled.
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He completed just 22 of his 40 passes (55% completion rate) on the day, well below his career average (66.6%). Watson tallied just 235 passing yards on Monday, tossing one touchdown to that wretched interception.
His performance on the ground was even worse. Watson netted six carries for 22 yards. Not too bad, right? But he put Pittsburgh on the ascendancy on two different occasions, coughing up the ball not once but twice — one of which resulted in a game-winning Watt return for touchdown.
Watson’s performance wasn’t becoming of a hurler who has the most enviable contract in NFL history. He’s been nothing short of putrid since arriving in The Land, all the while showcasing the league’s willingness to excuse reprehensible behavior on the account of whether a person can make their bottom line more appealing.
In all, it’s was a rancid display for Cleveland, whose offense straddled between frustration and complete opacity once Nick Chubb went down due to a gruesome knee injury.
With Chubb on the mend of the foreseeable future, the Browns need more from its marquee name under center. If not, they’re doomed to repeat the history of their predecessors; losing early and often while showing little to no threat with the ball in their hands.