Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson will make his long awaited return to the gridiron Sunday. The former Clemson Tigers star hasn’t taken a snap in an NFL game in 23 months. As he prepares to lead his Browns team, there have many differing opinions of what to expect from a guy who hasn’t played in such a long time. One of those with who spoke on the matter is Pro Football Hall of Famer and four-time Super Bowl champion Joe Montana.
During a recent interview with Fox Sports, Montana aka “Joe Cool” or “The Comeback Kid,” spoke candidly on his expectations for Watson.
Montana Has Doubts
“Guys are used to getting hurt and missing a number of games and it takes awhile, even in practice, to get used to things. But he’ll jump in and saddle fairly quick. Obviously, with a different team, so that’ll take a little bit of adjusting also at the same time,” Montana said.
“How well will he perform?” Montana asked. “I’d put my money that he’d be average, maybe a little bit better than what he’s normally playing at, just because no matter what you really do in practice and how physically you stay in shape or do the things you need to do, there’s nothing like the real-time game stuff. And it’ll take him a little bit. I don’t think it’ll take him too long to get back in the swing, but it’ll take a game or two.”
— Armando Salguero (@ArmandoSalguero) December 2, 2022
Montana, the former Notre Dame legend missed two full seasons in his brilliant career. While both of his were due to injury, he would know how difficult it is for a player to return after a long layoff.
Watson Has Been Anything But Average In His Four NFL Seasons
Montana is speaking about Watson from a place of patience more than saying he won’t be successful. Which in reality is highly plausible, but Watson has been nothing short of dynamic in his three NFL seasons, having passed for over 14,000 yards, 104 touchdowns and just 36 interceptions. The last time he played he led the league in passing yards with over 4,800. He also boasts the highest completion percentage, 67.8, of any quarterback in NFL history.
Just a reminder of Deshaun Watson's 2020 stats:
▫️4,823 passing yards (best in NFL)
▫️33 passing TD (t-7th most)
▫️8.9 yards per attempt (best)
▫️70.2% completion % (3rd best)
▫️444 rushing yards, 3 rushing TD
▫️8 games with 2+ TD, 0 INT
He's 25 and signed through 2025.
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) January 8, 2021
Yes, it’s gonna take him some time to get the timing down with his receivers in Cleveland, but the blessing is the Browns have one of the best rushing attacks in the NFL. And any QB’s best friend is a strong running game to take pressure off him. Watson will have that with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.
Watson Will Be In Familiar Territory
The NFL is great at marketing, and to put Watson’s return game on the road against his former team is brilliant. That alone could help Watson settle in, considering he’s familiar with the surroundings. Or it could be a situation where he struggles with the pressure of the return and facing his former team.
— MJ in cleats (@DeshaunMJWatson) December 3, 2022
No one knows, and all the hoopla involved is just opinions and projections. If the Browns are to win Sunday against a putrid Texans team it’ll be on the legs of Chubb and a defense led by edge rusher Myles “Flash” Garrett.
Either way, it’s good to see Watson back on the field. He’s one of the game’s best. And if he did those heinous acts he’s been accused of and suspended for he’ll have to live with that forever.