Browns 2022 NFL preview, schedule: amid Deshaun Watson controversy, few can predict how season will go
The Cleveland Browns will be without their new quarterback for at least 35% of the regular season, so QB2 Jacoby Brissett will have to step up in his absence.
On 1 August, the Cleveland Browns received the news they had been waiting for all offseason when it was revealed that Deshaun Watson, their recently signed quarterback, would be suspended for the first six games of next season for violating personal conduct policies.
Watson to miss a third of the NFL regular season
Although Watson’s ban is equivalent to 35% of the regular season schedule - unless it is increased - the 2021 records of the Browns’ opponents during that stretch indicate they’re manageable rivals. Only the New England Patriots (Week 6), finished last year with double digits in the wins column.
Head coach Kevin Stefanski needs backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett to step up and keep the team afloat until the return of Watson, who hasn’t thrown a pass in an official game since the end of the 2020 campaign.
WR Cooper added to Browns’ offensive options
The $230 million contract the Browns gave Watson without knowing at the time how many games he would miss was not the only move the organization made in the offseason.
Cleveland pulled the trigger and endowed its offence with the talent of wide receiver Amari Cooper.
Stefanski will run one of the most balanced and efficient offences with Watson, running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, and Cooper in one of the corners completing the most explosive plays. But the high-profile names are not the only weapons the Browns will have when in possession of the ball. Cleveland have built one of the best offensive lines with guards Joel Bitonio and Wyatt Teller.
It’s no coincidence that Chunn and Hunt have been one of the best running-back pairings in the NFL over the past two seasons.
It’s clear that Cleveland is working hard to have an ample arsenal of offensive options. The organisation was not fazed by the multiple allegations of sexual misconduct against Watson, and there is uncertainty about how he will perform and the impact of the media attention that the accusations will generate on and off the field. But the Browns knew exactly what they were getting themselves into.
Cleveland blessed with quality in defence
For many years, the Cleveland defence had a seal of quality and for this campaign everything indicates that it will be no different. Myles Garrett set a franchise record for sacks in 2021. Cornerback Greg Newsome II and linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koromoah established themselves as immediate impact players after being selected in the Draft a year ago.
The Browns rewarded Denzel Ward for his performances by handing him a contract that makes him the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL.
Before Watson’s punishment was announced, the bookmakers remained undecided over the Browns’ chances this season. Cleveland was in a kind of limbo. Although it is now known that the QB will be out for six games, nothing has changed. Few dare to predict success in Cleveland this year.
Cleveland Browns: brief fact file
Record in 2021: 8-9
Stadium: First Energy Stadium
Super Bowl titles: 0
Coach: Kevin Stefanski
Defensive coordinator: Joe Woods
Offensive coordinator: Alex Van Pelt
Cleveland Browns’ 2022 NFL schedule