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Reviewing the QBs: Watson knocks off rust, shows promise in first starts with Browns

After solid efforts from the backup QB, the Browns’ QB of the future re-acclimated to starting NFL games — and offered glimpses of better play next season


The Browns are about a month removed from the 2022 season and making plans for improvements in 2023. Doing so, however, will require looking back at how each position fared, and we'll be doing that ourselves at with a comprehensive breakdown of the full roster.

Up next: the QBs.

The Raw Numbers

Deshaun Watson: 99-170 (58 percent), 1,102 yards, 7 TDs, 5 INTs, 79.1 passer rating. 3-3 record

Jacoby Brissett: 236-369 (64 percent), 2,608 yards, 12 TDs, 6 INTs, 88.9 passer rating. 4-7 record

Kellen Mond: Claimed off waivers in August and spent full season as a gameday inactive

Analysis in 150 Words or Less

The Browns entered Week 1 knowing they would be making a QB change on Week 13, when Watson's suspension for violating the league's personal conduct policy was set to end. Brissett did a tremendous job opening the year and fulfilled his role as a QB who needed to efficiently deliver the football to the offense's top playmakers, avoid turnovers and manage the game — his numbers were on pace for career-highs until the switch to Watson occurred. When he returned, Watson certainly showed rust in several of his first games back but also offered glimpses of the Pro Bowl talent the Browns believe he'd eventually be able to rekindle after going 700 days between NFL starts. The efforts from both QBs weren't enough to carry the Browns to the playoffs, but the Browns are eager to see what awaits with a full offseason of Watson as the starter.

High Point

No win was arguably more satisfying than the Browns' Week 8 home win over the Bengals on Monday Night Football. Brissett performed well in the 32-13 victory, completing 17 of 22 pass attempts for 278 yards and two touchdowns — one passing and another rushing — to lead the Browns to a thorough beating over their division rival. Brissett's 133.7 passer rating was his highest in a game all season.

Low Point

The Browns' playoff hopes ended with a 17-10 loss to the Saints in Week 16 in a game where it was always going to be difficult to pass due to record-cold temperatures and high winds in Cleveland. Still, Watson ended up passing 31 times, completing 15 of them for 135 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. WR Amari Cooper appeared to have an easy touchdown catch in the first half but lost the ball after he slipped on the ice and snow-covered grass, and TE David Njoku had a touchdown pass bounce off his chest on the Browns' final drive. There wasn't much else Watson could've done to beat the tough conditions, but the results were still frustrating to watch.

What They Said

"Of course, it didn't meet the expectations. Of course, we wanted to find our way into the playoffs and have extended games and an opportunity to clinch the division and all of these different things. As far as just being able to play football again, get out there and knock some rust off, have some ups, have some downs and have some in-betweens and kind of really get the feel of how we want to operate as an offense and what we look forward to as the Cleveland Browns, it definitely did that. I am excited. I am definitely looking forward to this future for the Cleveland Browns, the organization and this team. I know there are going to be some changes, but at the same time, I am always here for improvement and just trying to get better." - Watson after the season ended

Who's Back for 2023?

Watson and Mond are both under contract for next season.

Who's a Potential Free Agent?

Brissett is the only QB who could hit the market as an unrestricted free agent in March.

2023 Outlook

Watson and head coach Kevin Stefanski are confident that the results will be better in 2023 now that the duo will have a full offseason to look back on film and analyze ways to grow the offense. The Browns know they have a special talent in Watson, whose strong arm and mobile abilities are hard to find in the NFL, and believe the offense will operate more efficiently with him under center after he was able to knock rust off in six games. The offense will be even more dependent on Watson being able to make accurate throws and create plays with his feet.

Check out the best photos from the 2022 season by the Browns photo team