In his first preseason game with the Cleveland Browns and just hours after apologizing “to all the women I have impacted,” quarterback Deshaun Watson struggled against the Jacksonville Jaguars Friday night.
Watson’s primary backup, Jacoby Brissett, did not play.
The Browns announced Watson as the opening preseason starter earlier in the week, following a 17-month ordeal that has seen the quarterback come under fire for allegations of sexual misconduct, sit out the 2021 NFL season, and sign a record-breaking deal with the Browns.
Playing on the road against the Jaguars, Watson was both booed and berated by Jacksonville fans when he took the field. He finished the night after only three drives, and was 1-of-5 passing for 7 yards. Not only was he out-dueled by Jaguars second-year starter Trevor Lawrence (6 of 12 for 96 yards and a touchdown), but also by backup Browns quarterbacks Josh Rosen (6-of-7 for 56 yards) and Joshua Dobbs (10-of-13 for 108 yards and a touchdown).
Meanwhile, Brissett, who has been named the Browns’ primary backup QB, did not play. He is expected to play in Week 3 of the preseason and be the Week 1 starter for the regular season. Although Brissett is not a passer on the same caliber of Watson, there are scenarios he could find some measure of success in the right scenario.
“Jacoby is a QB with some limitations,” said Joe Banner, former NFL team executive and founder of The 33rd Team. “If surrounded by the right people and a coach who will run an offense geared to his strengths, he can have modest success.”
The 33rd Team’s Matt Cassel, who began his NFL career as a backup, discussed the need for Brissett to get those reps with the first-team offense not only in preseason games but also in practice.
Watson is currently awaiting word of his status this season following an appeal from the NFL of his initial six-game suspension. Prior to the game, Watson spoke with Browns team reporter Aditi Kinkhabwala and apologized for the first time after previously showing no remorse or accepting any responsibility.