Deshaun Watson kept his answer simple Thursday when he was asked what area of his game he's looking to improve after his first four starts with the Browns.
"Offensively, especially as the quarterback, we want to score more points," he said. "Not just for me, but for the whole offense, we want to score points and put ourselves in position to put a game away and help our defense out and our special teams out. I know it's a team game and we have to complement each other, but we can help ourselves offensively. I take pride in that, and I take full control and responsibility of that."
The Browns have scored three touchdowns since Watson returned from his 11-game suspension and took over starting duties in Week 13 in Houston. After not finding the end zone in the first game, Watson has manufactured one touchdown each game — a 13-yard throw to TE David Njoku against the Bengals, a 3-yard pass to WR Donovan Peoples-Jones against the Ravens and a 12-yard rush from Watson last week against the Saints.
Watson had two good chances to secure his fourth touchdown in the final minute against the Saints, but well-placed passes to the end zone to Peoples-Jones on second down and Njoku on third down were dropped. The record-cold weather during that game certainly didn't help — WR Amari Cooper also dropped a pass in the end zone earlier in the game after his feet slipped on the frozen, snow-covered grass.
Now, with much more normal conditions this week at FedEx Field and temperatures expected to touch 60 degrees, the Browns expect to see a jump in offensive production Sunday against the Commanders.
"These next two games, we will have some decent conditions and we can really see where we're at right now," said offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt, who also admitted that the conditions created "some factors that played into our evaluation process."
The touchdowns should also be easier to find now that Watson has had four games to operate the offense in a live setting and build chemistry with receivers. He's felt himself grow more comfortable with the playbook with each game, and he believes that comfort will lead to bigger plays — and more points — before the season ends.
"I feel very comfortable with (the offense)," he said. "The progress is continuing to grow each and every week. The stats might not show it or say it, but right now, this is not about any statistics or anything like that. It's about me improving as a quarterback and getting back into rhythm and getting into the rhythm of this offense and this team. As far as my decision making, reads, throws, timing and everything like that, it's been getting better each and every week."
But Watson still has areas that need to improve for the offense to take that jump. Van Pelt said huddle operation, play calling and footwork improvements will all be the top points for Watson in the last two games.
"Those are the biggest steps," Van Pelt said. "Just continue to improve in those areas. The accuracy is there. You're starting to see that come back. His ability to make plays on the move is back. Really, it's just a matter of fine tuning footwork, operation and all of the things that come with quarterback play."
For Watson, the top goal is to do whatever is necessary to find the end zone — and a win.
"Whatever we need to do to figure out each and every week going against a different philosophy, different team and different coordinator, we have to find ways to put more points on the board," he said.
Check out photos of players and coaches working to prepare for the teams regular season game against the Washington Commanders
Prepping for Chase
The biggest opposing challenge the Browns offense might face Sunday will be DE Chase Young, who returned from an ACL injury last week and played for the first time since Week 10 of 2021.
Young, who was drafted second overall and won NFL Rookie Defensive Player of the Year in 2020, played 30 snaps in the loss to the 49ers and made two tackles and one pass breakup. He rejoined a defensive line that contains three other first-round draft picks, too, in Daron Payne, Jonathan Allen and Montez Sweat, and could see a bigger role in his second game back.
"He looks physically strong to me," OG Joel Bitonio said. "He had a lot of time to train and get big. He has always been kind of a freak of nature. He adds another element. That's their fourth first-rounder up there, and they are all really playing at a high level right now.
Woods takes blame on run defense
The Browns defense has shown improvements in a few spots after their shaky start to the season, but one area that hasn't improved is the run defense.
The defense ranks 25th in the league with 134.3 yards allowed per game and has allowed over 130 rushing yards in eight games this season. The multitude of injuries at the linebacker position certainly haven't helped, but defensive coordinator Joe Woods still expected better from the defense as a while and didn't foresee the run defense being as big of an issue.
"I was not concerned about the run defense (before the season)," he said. "I know there was questions. The big thing since I have been here we have had a lot of turnover, and I knew this year we drafted some young guys so it is going to take time for those guys to develop. Going into the season, I wasn't concerned with the run defense."
The problems, Woods said, have stemmed from a lack of proper execution, which he puts on himself and the coaching staff.
"I'm not saying it's a personnel issue … I put it all on coaching," he said. "Coaching first. We have to get the guys to go out and execute whatever I'm calling."