Deshaun Watson says he isn’t quitting on the Cleveland Browns

Of the on-field lows for an NFL participant, it not often hits a basement deeper than being requested in the event you don’t wish to play the sport. That’s a below-the-cellar, under-the-cement, career-buried sort of accusation — the league’s reply to a “Dateline” lacking individual episode. It’s ugly … and it not often ends effectively.

It’s not a query you ever need posed to your franchise quarterback. And it’s most actually not what the Cleveland Browns had envisioned solely eight weeks in the past, when members of the group spoke with Yahoo Sports activities and expressed their highest stage of optimism so far concerning the subsequent section of Deshaun Watson’s profession. And but, that’s what unfolded Thursday, when the Browns quarterback was requested about recommendations from various corners of the media (to not point out the fan base) that his lingering shoulder damage was someway suggestive of a missing want to play for Cleveland.

Watson reacted with profanity, which is how most any prideful NFL participant would react. However the truth that he was justifying his want to play soccer for the Browns — when he’s not even by his second season with the franchise — speaks to how poorly issues have gone in 2023. It additionally raises the query of how Cleveland and Watson will get this complete state of affairs again on monitor within the coming weeks, which is certainly the highest long-term precedence for the participant and workforce.

Earlier than we get to unraveling a few of that, this was Watson’s response to those that query his want to play. The suggestion is on the market. Now there’s a reply.

“Why wouldn’t I wish to play?” Watson stated Thursday. “I simply labored my ass off for 2 years to get again to enjoying, so why wouldn’t I wish to play? That is what I’ve been doing since I used to be 6 years outdated, so why wouldn’t I wish to play? I see the identical issues — I see all of the narratives, this, that and the third. All that stuff is simply attempting to trigger controversy and commotion. I’m superb. I’m comfortable. I’m not proud of the damage. I’m in an ideal area mentally, I’m in an ideal area spiritually. Bodily, every thing else is in an ideal area however my shoulder, so we’re working exhausting to get that again. However why wouldn’t I wish to play? I don’t do that for no different purpose. I see that [talk] too, I see the entire contract state of affairs [being brought up] and all that stuff.”

He later added of hypothesis from any nationwide media shops that might counsel he doesn’t wish to play, “None of these nationwide folks know me. They don’t speak to me. All that’s hypothesis. If it ain’t coming from me, then all that different sh** is bulls***.”

For context, the hypothesis about Watson’s willingness to play would require some dot-connecting between two conditions that don’t have something to do with one another. He beforehand refused to play for Houston Texans as a result of he had soured on possession and different elements of the workforce construction and not wished to proceed ahead. Up to now, there isn’t any indication in any respect {that a} related state of affairs is unfolding in Cleveland. So what has occurred?

Reducing by the medical chart and presenting this as merely doable, Watson has a shoulder damage that’s one half weak point in his subscapularis muscle and one half ache administration. If you wish to dive into the biology of it, one of the best define of the issue might be present in high-velocity baseball pitchers that suffer the damage. Primarily, it impacts arm acceleration right into a throw and presents an incapacity to fireplace by a movement at what would usually be 100%. And that is what’s most vital to think about in Watson’s case: A pitcher might be “medically cleared to throw” however not totally rehabilitated sufficient within the muscle to throw with most velocity and with out ache.

With out rehashing every thing, that’s actually the place a lot of this went sideways, when Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski reacted to a line of questioning about Watson being medically cleared to play in opposition to the Baltimore Ravens, there ought to have been a distinction and added context within the trade. One thing alongside the road of this: Sure, Watson was medically cleared to throw a soccer, to heat up, and many others. Nonetheless, it’s a tough damage that usually depends on the athlete to speak to coaches and athletic trainers whether or not or not he can throw with full velocity.

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson took exception to the suggestion this week that he does not wish to play for Cleveland. (Picture by Jeffrey Brown/Icon Sportswire through Getty Photographs)

Watson felt like he was not 100%, and that’s why he didn’t play in opposition to the Ravens. And within the weeks since, it’s been a collection of testing the shoulder out, attempting to play with it, however nonetheless being in a spot the place the extent of discomfort and lack of constant peak velocity has undermined his skill to play. All of which makes this complete fiasco a grasp class in science and tips on how to greatest disseminate info that precisely explains what is occurring.

The descriptions of the biology weren’t all the time clear. Nor the best way the data was associated. However the backside line by all of it is easy. Watson has to proceed to work on his shoulder till he seems like it could possibly hearth at 100% (or near it) in his throwing movement. Till then, enjoying video games at a decrease share presents the likelihood that he received’t really feel proper, received’t look proper and received’t play proper. There’s no set timeline, as a result of each athlete who offers with the damage is totally different. So it’s important to play it week to week and see the place it’s headed. That’s it. Interval.

After all, that that is occurring in the midst of Yr 2 for Watson — when every thing was imagined to be coming collectively — has been a part of the frustration for everybody. Whether or not it’s possession, the entrance workplace, the teaching employees, the gamers, Watson or the entire Browns devoted, that is the large pothole within the season that everybody hoped to keep away from. Particularly in a season when the protection is so good and Watson’s backup quarterback choices holding down the fort are so under common.

Sure, the Browns may have a greater report if Watson was on the sector and furthering the momentum he had popping out of the Week 3 win over the Tennessee Titans. Sure, he’s lacking extra time and very important alternatives to discover a groove in Stefanski’s offense. And sure, that is all occurring in an vital season for everybody within the group. In some unspecified time in the future, the plan has to begin to work. From that vantage, it’s straightforward to see the Browns slamming right into a confluence of poor circumstances that result in inevitable teeth-gnashing. All whereas Watson’s contract and intertwined expectations of deliverance loom relentlessly over the franchise like Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer.

So the place does this go from right here?

That’s a solution that is available in various elements. First, a highway win in opposition to the Seattle Seahawks this weekend would work wonders for the franchise. Not solely as a result of it retains the Browns (4-2) within the thick of the AFC North title race (they seem to be a half-game again of the first-place Ravens), however it continues to showcase a gritty skill to search out success within the face of quarterback uncertainty. Second? Everybody wants to come back to grips that Watson’s timeline for a near 100% return is up within the air and fully as much as what his shoulder is telling him. He may very well be again in every week or a month or something in between. Speeding it is senseless if the long-term ramifications are coping with the issue into January and past. However his season is just not over. That a lot has been made clear.

And eventually — perhaps most vital over the following 5 days — I count on the Browns will likely be lively heading into the commerce deadline on Tuesday. I believe they’ll make calls and work exhausting to shut a number of offers. It will be the form of commerce efforts that counsel the decision-makers contained in the group consider huge issues are nonetheless doable this season, particularly as soon as Watson will get himself to the place he’s throwing above his consolation stage once more.

Proper now, even within the chaos and frustration, there’s a message the Browns try to ship. The quarterback isn’t quitting. And neither is the construction round him. That’s what the following 5 days — and subsequent 11 video games — should be about.

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