The Browns aren't surprised by Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson's early success. Head coach Hue Jackson says the dynamic rookie is doing the same kinds of things that made him a star at Clemson.
"He's not doing anything different than what he did in college," Jackson said Thursday. "He's making plays all the time and leading this football team. He's a very intelligent player. I think he works extremely hard based on what I know and spending my time with him. He's a challenge because he can hurt you throwing the ball and he can hurt you running the ball."
Indeed, Watson, whom the Texans selected with the 12th-overall pick in this past spring's NFL Draft, has been impressive in his first five games. He's completed 62 percent of his passes for 1,072 yards, 12 touchdowns and four interceptions. A talented runner, he's added 179 yards and two more scores.
"He has probably made some uncanny plays outside of the pocket more so than most guys you have seen not just running, but also throwing," Jackson said.
"He's able to get away. He has unbelievable escape-ability, and once he's taken off downfield, he can make plays. He makes football plays with his legs. He has speed. He has toughness. He has grit. He has escape-ability."
And as the Browns search for their first win of the season, they know they'll have to neutralize the youngster who's given Houston's offense a big boost.
"He's a guy who can make a play out of nothing. He hurts you with his arm, and he is almost like a running back back there," linebacker Christian Kirksey said. "I think he's like third in carries or something like that on their team. He is definitely a dual threat. He can extend plays. He can extend the drives. That is definitely something that makes him somewhat special."
Watson was the toast of college football last season, lifting Clemson to its first national title in 25 years. In the process, he became something of a household name, best known for his ability to make defenses pay with both his arm and legs.
Rookie safety Jabrill Peppers, who watched Watson from afar at Michigan, believes the Texans have tailored their offense toward the quarterback's strengths.
"I think some of the schemes they run for him are kind of collegiate-like. I think that is kind of what he is used to," he said. "It has a lot of run-pass options, just a lot of different things to try to screw with your eyes so they can crease you and have that big gash, but he has targets who can go up and get the ball. He has guys who can take the top off. This week is going to be huge in discipline and making sure your eyes are where they need to be."
Watson, who had five touchdowns in last week's loss to the Chiefs, will look to continue that success against a promising Cleveland defense Sunday.
"He has all of those things you look for," Jackson said, "and he has done a good job for them."