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Browns Mailbag: What changes could come to offense with Watson at QB?

Staff Writer Anthony Poisal answers your questions every week


The first week of OTAs has come and gone, and we're heading into the holiday weekend tackling another round of your Mailbag questions.

Let's dive in.

"Now that Watson is QB1, how creative will the offense become?" - David Simpson

"Did the Browns change their offense again? I have seen some things on twitter surrounding a bunch more misdirection and also having Chubb and Hunt in together?" - Payton Helstad, Van Wert, Ohio

We addressed this a bit in the Mailbag last week, but it's worth re-visiting again after seeing Watson on the field in a team practice setting for the first time this week.

The Browns will almost certainly have some sort of tweaks to their offense with Watson at QB, and some of those changes could involve creative plays that include mis-directions and option plays. Any changes will be geared toward maximizing his mobility and strong arm, skills that led him to three Pro Bowls in his first four NFL seasons. We likely won't know the differences until training camp, but it'll be worth monitoring over the next few weeks of OTAs leading into mandatory minicamp (June 14-16).

In addition to gauging Watson's skills in certain elements of the offense, the bulk of OTA work is more about Watson building chemistry with his new receivers and getting used to working behind a new offensive line. Watson delivered a few good throws and showed some strong footwork Wednesday, but the offense — as well as all elements of the team — are a work in progress.

"Deshaun had another good day," coach Kevin Stefanski said Wednesday. "I thought he was really sharp yesterday, as well. I think all of that work matters. I think the work that they do in this building together and the work they do outside the building, it all adds up. You have heard me say it before, it is added reps so he is doing a nice job."

As for the second half of Payton's question, the Browns are always looking to make the most of having a 1A and 1B at running back. Having them on the field together is always a possibility, but the Browns have preferred to take a more methodical approach of using each of them separately to save their fuel for the fourth quarter.

"Will Tommy Togiai get a chance for a starting role?" - James Terry, Bucyrus, Ohio

"Who do you see taking the starting spots of the interior on the defensive line?" - Jordan Beckwith, Kissimmee, FL

We'll likely have plenty of questions about the D-line over the next couple months, and for good reason — it's the one position where not one, but two starting jobs are up for grabs, and there are quite a few candidates who could take them.

We saw Taven Bryan and Jordan Elliott take first-team reps Wednesday, but that could change at any point leading up to Week 1. Togiai, a 2021 fourth-round pick who saw his snaps steadily increase his rookie year, could very well be in the first-team shuffle in the future, and so could seven-year veteran Sheldon Day or fourth-round rookie DT Perrion Winfrey. Of that group, Bryan, a 2018 first-round pick who made 17 starts with the Jaguars, has the most starting experience. Elliott has made four starts since he was drafted in the third-round in 2020 and also played at a higher pace in the rotation at the end of last season.

Can you explain how the 53-man roster works along with how many players we can protect on the practice squad on a given week once the season starts! We really have a deep roster, would hate to see us lose anyone due to the #'s game! - Philip Hartman, Saint Clairsville

This is a good question after the league announced Thursday the roster cut-down dates for training camp and practice squad rules for the regular season.

We'll know the 53-man roster on Aug. 30, three days after the Browns' third preseason game is complete. Before then, teams will need to trim rosters from 90 to 85 players on Aug. 17 (five days after Browns' first preseason game in Jacksonville) and 85 to 80 players by Aug. 23 (two days after their second preseason game against the Eagles.)

Practice squad additions will be made after the 53-man roster is announced. Teams will be able to carry 16 players on their practice squad, and six of those spots can be used for veteran players. A practice squad player can be elevated for a maximum of three regular-season games in the same year and any number of postseason games without taking up a spot on the 53-man active roster.

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