Watson’s preseason debut, as the NFL is hearing the appeal of his six-game suspension, was not great. He went 1-of-5 for 7 yards. He had two passes dropped, which didn’t help. But the Browns probably wanted more than 7 yards and no first downs on those drives that Watson played. Joshua Dobbs took over as the Jaguars’ quarterback to start the second quarter as Watson’s night ended.
Watson’s last game action was on January 3, 2021. He sat out last season with the Houston Texans amid his trade request and off-field issues. He was traded to Cleveland in a controversial move during the offseason. He looked a little rusty on Friday night.
Watson, for the moment, is suspended for the first six games of the regular season. The NFL has appealed that ruling and Watson’s suspension is expected to be extended. The Browns don’t know when their new $230 million quarterback will make his regular season debut. before the game, Watson apologized to “all the women I’ve influenced”, the first time he’s done that.
Watson’s suspension does not count for the preseason, and the NFL did not rule on his appeal before kickoff on Friday. Watson will be eligible to play in the preseason at least until that appeal ends.
According to ESPN’s Jake Trotter, Watson was booed in Jacksonville.
On his first play, Watson rolled after a play-action pass and threw far over Anthony Schwartz’s head. Or it was way short of Donovan Peoples-Jones. The throw was so bad it was hard to tell who he was throwing to. It seemed like a combination of nerves and rust.
Watson’s second pass was dropped on a slant by Schwartz, who probably should have caught it even though it was low.
The Browns’ first two drives stalled. They ran on third-and-10 and punted to end the first drive, then the second drive ended on a lost fumble by running back D’Ernest Johnson.
On the third drive Watson completed a pass, 7 yards to tight end David Njoku. Another pass rush was dropped by Schwartz, after Watson did a good job of avoiding the rush. Then Watson completely undercut his target on third down and the Browns punted again. That was the last pass Watson threw in his Browns preseason debut.
Watson’s status for Friday’s game was uncertain until the day of the game, and there’s sure to be another week of drama to come before Cleveland’s second preseason game. It’s possible this is the only look the Browns get at Watson for a long time. It wasn’t the best of first impressions.