The Browns have known for a while now that Deshaun Watson was going to miss at least six games. That knowledge did not change decision-makers’ minds about what to do in the interim.
On Thursday, the Browns found out for certain how long the starting quarterback’s suspension will last. Will the 11 games Watson will miss change their thinking at the position?
If so, the Browns aren’t saying.
They reiterated they are all in with Jacoby Brissett.
“Throughout this process, trying to be respectful of it and knowing that there would finally be clarity is helpful for us and then we just stick to our plan moving forward,” Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said, via Dan Labbe of cleveland.com. “We’re pretty comfortable with how we’re operating right now, knowing that we’ll get Deshaun back after 11 games.’
The Browns are upping Brissett’s workload with the first team as they get closer to the season opener against the Panthers. Watson won’t play in the final two presason games.
“We want to get a good look at some of our scheme vs. another scheme if you will,” Stefanski said, “but ultimately as we transition out of this week, Jacoby will get all of the reps.”
The Browns play five 2021 playoff teams while Watson is out. They also play the Chargers, Ravens and Dolphins, who are playoff contenders this year.
Watson is eligible to return to action Dec. 4 against his former team but will the Browns still be in contention then? The Browns have faith in Brissett, perhaps more than anyone outside the locker room does.
“We’re excited about Jacoby and have a ton of trust in Jacoby and when Deshaun is ready, he’ll join the team,” Stefanski said.
The Colts tried making Brissett the bridge quarterback, not once, but twice. He started 15 games for Andrew Luck in 2017 when Luck was out with a shoulder injury, and in 2019, when Luck abruptly retired Aug. 24 that preseason, Brissett started 15 games.
He is 14-23 as a starter.
“I think back to when we were acquiring Jacoby, the phone calls that I made to people he’s played for, people that he’s played with, it was very, very consistent in that you’re getting a pro’s pro,” Stefanski said. “(He’s) somebody who’s going to lead from out in front, works very hard at his craft and is just an outstanding teammate.”
But the question remains: If the Browns start Brissett for all 11 games, will they win enough to remain in contention when Watson returns?