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Analyzing how the Browns offense matches up against the Cardinals defense

QB Deshaun Watson ready for Cardinals as this is the best he’s felt since Week 3

Wide receiver Cedric Tillman (19) and Quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) during practice at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus on November 3, 2023.
Wide receiver Cedric Tillman (19) and Quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) during practice at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus on November 3, 2023.

During the "Fast Friday" practice, QB Deshaun Watson was very talkative and involved. In the team's goal-line drills, he would tell and demonstrate to his receivers how he wanted them to run routes in the red zone. An hour later, HC Kevin Stefanski announced Watson would start Sunday against the Cardinals.

"This is most definitely the best I felt since Week 3," Watson said. "I am super excited just to get out there and compete."

Watson and the offense will face a Cardinals defense that enters Sunday as the 26th-ranked defense in the NFL. They give up an average of 355.8 yards and 26.6 points per game.

Opposing teams throw for 225 yards per game and run for 130 yards per contest against the Cardinals. The Cardinals defense has allowed 11 rushing touchdowns and 12 receiving touchdowns.

The one thing the Cardinals defense has done well this season has been sacking the quarterback. They are ninth in the league with 24 sacks this season. The defense is decent in taking the ball away, as they are 16th in the league with 10.

"They have a solid defense with a good scheme," Watson said. "We just have to make sure to be on our P's and Q's and make them earn everything."

This is an opportunity for the Browns offense to click on all cylinders against a troubled Cardinals defense. They are home, and Watson will be healthy. In Week 3 against the Titans, Watson had the best performance by a Browns quarterback this season. He had a 123.1 passer rating and threw for 289 yards with two touchdowns.

Watson's Week 3 performance was the only game this season where the Browns didn't commit an interception. With Watson back and healthy, the Browns offense would look to make a giant leap.

"I felt that he had a really good Wednesday, really good Thursday, really good Friday," Stefanski said "And I think he's comfortable and he looks good."

The Browns offense has been near the bottom in most categories. The Browns are 31st in receiving yards and touchdowns. They are 30th in receptions with 134.

Sunday is a fresh start for the team because not only are they getting their starting quarterback back healthy, but they will also change their starting lineup at receiver. With WR Donovan People-Jones traded, WR Cedric Tillman and WR Marquise Goodwin's roles will be increased.

"I'm excited for him (Tillman) to get his opportunity and he'll have more of a role," Stefanski said on Friday. "Marquise (Goodwin) will have a little bit more of a role, obviously taking losing Donovan (Peoples-Jones) snaps, but I got a ton of confidence in those guys."

Browns wide receivers coach Chad O'Shea has seen growth from Tillman, even as he's been inactive in recent weeks. Yet, Tillman has continued to prepare for his moment.

"I would say what's been most impressive is how he has worked off the field to try to learn the offense and to learn from the veteran players and to try to do the things we're asking of him and to do them at a very high level," O'Shea said. "And that takes a lot of work. Cedic has put in a lot of work in that area, both in our meeting rooms and doing extra in terms of walkthroughs. We always tell the players if you work hard and are coachable, good things will eventually happen to you in the future."

The Browns will return home Sunday after playing on the road for the past two weeks. In those two weeks, the Browns committed five turnovers. At home this season, they have eight turnovers in four games versus nine on the road in three games.

"Can't wait to get down there on the lake in front of our fans, going to be a beautiful day," Stefanski said. "So, looking forward to seeing our fans down there. Certainly, looking forward to hearing our fans down there."