The intrepid fans who understand the true plague of the Browns franchise saw this coming before the season started. We knew when Jimmy Haslam ordered the acquisition of QB Deshaun Watson what the result would be. We saw the inevitable cultural disaster that was to unfold. We just didn’t think it would present itself this quickly.
Browns QB Deshaun Watson, the quarter-of-a-billion dollar man, has mysteriously disappeared from the public eye for nearly three weeks following the Browns’ win against Tennessee in Week 3. Despite cautioning reporters all week leading up to the Week 4 matchup against Baltimore, Watson was ruled out mere hours before kickoff resulting in a 28-3 blowout in which Cleveland never stood a chance.
Fast-forward a week-and-a-half later following a bye week off, and Watson is still not practicing or talking to the media. He’s not even visible from what we’ve seen, as statements from the organization say he is “working inside,” which could mean anything from throwing short passes to watching cartoons. He has since been ruled out for Sunday’s game against San Francisco.
Despite predicted treacherous weather conditions, beating the 49ers with PJ Walker, who was cut by the lowly Carolina Panthers, is a long shot. The real concern is the long-term nonsense that will likely haunt another season of football. Mishandling without care is something the Browns organization specializes in at the expense of their fans and the 2023 season is shaping up to be another stripe on the belt.
Poor Kevin Stefanski is forced to endure another round of the quarterback-injury public relations circus, while he and GM Andrew Berry contradict each other at the podium.
At the annual bye week press conference, Berry stated that Watson could barely lift his shoulder up, which would seem like a statement to end all confusion about the condition of the Browns’ starting QB. However, Stefanski was caught saying Watson was “medically cleared to play” and that it was “his decision” to sit out.
Then we have the statements from Watson himself, telling Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot that he expects to play. There’s also the visible evidence that Watson finished the game, and finished it well, in Week 3 after the reported injury-causing hit on a designed run up the middle. There was no leaving the game, no grimacing, nothing after that play.
There was nothing after the game hinting at any injury or even soreness. It wasn’t until Wednesday that reports of Watson not throwing at practice began to surface. By that time the Browns had adopted their current approach of hiding the quarter-billion dollar man from existence.
So what is going on? Why this huge charade over what should be a simple mark on an injury report? Is something else going on under the surface? It wouldn’t be the first time Owner Jimmy Haslam ordered things down the chain of command to cover up questionable activities.
After all, kicking the only QB to win a playoff game in over 20 years to the curb to hand $230 million guaranteed to a serial predator is reason enough to question the culture of the organization. The Browns, run by a greedy owner and his two-faced crook of a son-in-law, are routinely infected with malignant forces throughout the building perpetrated from the very top. Berry and Stefanski, like those who came before them, are just frontmen who must take all the blame for the organizational disarray caused by Haslam.
Watch Stefanski in recent pressers. Now, he was never a superstar at press conferences, but the usually wry coach has seemed more frustrated and defeated than ever. He also looks to have aged 10 years in the span of just four. Some questionable playcalling aside, Stefanski is the victim of an organization that chews up and spits out everything that gets trapped into it.
And it’s a shame. Because the Browns have enough around the quarterback, even without Nick Chubb, to really compete. Their defense looks to be the best in decades. But they just can’t stop beating themselves.