BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Along with passes and plays, Deshaun Watson is practicing patience. And like nearly everything else with Cleveland's quarterback, it's taking time.
Four starts into his tenure with the Browns, Watson insisted Thursday he's not frustrated by his poor passer rating, uneven performances or any other statistics that might not be up to his past standards.
While staying present, Watson is looking ahead.
“It’s the long run and that’s why I came to Cleveland," he said. “It’s not about right now. It’s the long run.”
Watson is 2-2 as a starter since being reinstated from an 11-game NFL suspension following accusations of sexual misconduct by two dozen women during massage therapy sessions in Texas.
The 27-year-old's numbers are pedestrian, but there have been some extenuating circumstances for each of his outings.
His Dec. 4 debut in Houston — where he spent four seasons — was emotional, and he had to knock off rust from a 700-day layoff between starts. He posted the lowest QB rating (53.4) of his career as Cleveland beat the Texans.
Watson looked more like himself the following week in a loss at Cincinnati. He didn't need to do much in a 13-3 home win over Baltimore.
Last week against New Orleans, the Browns played the coldest regular-season home game in franchise history (6 degrees at kickoff) with whipping winds off Lake Erie making it tough to throw. Watson had a pair of potential TD passes dropped and another pass deflect off rookie receiver David Bell’s hands for an interception.
His numbers — 703 yards, two TDs, three picks, eight sacks and a 69.3 rating — are underwhelming and not eye-pleasing to Watson, who led the league with 4,823 yards passing in 2020.
He's not ignoring them, just minimizing their importance.
“My main focus is winning. I came to Cleveland to win a Super Bowl,” he said. “If that’s throwing the ball five times or throwing the ball 40 times and scoring five touchdowns or scoring zero touchdowns, as long as we win, that’s all I really care about.
“So the stats and stuff like that, I’ve done that before. I’ve had opportunities before. I’ve led the league in passing before, scored a lot of touchdowns, did Pro Bowls, all that stuff. My ultimate goal is trying to get that ring, and I’m going to do whatever I can to be able to try to have that opportunity.”
The Browns (6-9) aren't going to the playoffs. They can, however, wreck any postseason plans for the Washington Commanders (7-7-1) on Sunday and next week in the season finale against Pittsburgh (7-8).
Watson views the games as chances to grow with an offense he's still learning and that has scored just three TDs in his four starts.
“This is an opportunity for us to be able to continue to improve as an offense as a whole and as a team to go out there and score points and show what the Cleveland Browns is about,” Watson said. “We gotta find ways to put more points on the board.”
Cleveland's second straight losing season has intensified the pressure on coach Kevin Stefanski, who led the Browns to a playoff berth in his first season but is 14-18 since.
While there may be an outside drumbeat for Stefanski's job, Watson said the Browns believe in him.
“We all trust Kevin, we love Kevin, we support Kevin, we respect Kevin and everything that he’s about with the Cleveland Browns,” Watson said. “We’re going to continue to build that trust and build that chemistry and look for the future.”
NOTES: DE Jadeveon Clowney didn't practice due an illness, one day after returning from the concussion protocol. ... Pro Bowl LG Joel Bitonio also offered his support of Stefanski. “He's the man for the job for sure,” Bitonio said. “I have a lot of faith in him, what he’s done with our offense, the circumstances we’ve been under.”
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