CLEVELAND, Ohio – Scribbles in my notebook following Browns 24-13 preseason win in Jacksonville on Friday:
1. The Deshaun Watson camp is trying to reach an agreement with the NFL. They hinted to the Associated Press that they would be ready accept an eight-game suspension and a $5 million fine. Then Watson published a apologies” to all women that I had an impact in this situation. The comments were made to Browns sideline reporter Aditi Kinkhabwala before the game.
2. You can make your own decision about apologies, just like the massage therapists who were part of the various civil lawsuits — 23 settled by Waston, 30 by the Houston Texans. Camp Watson backs away from its non-suspension demands and Watson’s comments about “never assaulting or disrespecting a woman.” They’re clearly trying to avoid a one-year suspension, which the NFL is seeking on appeal.
3. Perhaps the NFL and Watson’s camp are working on a settlement beyond the six games ruled by Judge Sue Robinson. The NFL is expected to rule on the appeal of the six-game sentence soon. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has requested a one-year suspension for what he calls Watson’s “predatory behavior”. Doesn’t all of this seem to eventually be heading into the justice system?
4. It was an unsavory case, poorly reflecting the Browns, Watson and the NFL. The Browns were willingly part of it when they traded for Watson knowing all the civil lawsuits against him. I still can’t believe the Browns traded six picks (including three first-round picks) and gave Watson the biggest guaranteed contract in the NFL ($230 million), but it was their decision. And they have to face the consequences.
5. Most of the fans who write to me are either
a) Angry the Browns did this;
b) Wanting to suggest a way to plead the situation and find a settlement; Where
c) Fed up with endless history and speculation.
I hate how it fractured the fanbase. I don’t like how the coaching staff is in a tight spot, preparing for the season and also having to answer questions that should only be dealt with by Watson and Browns ownership. But key people won’t discuss it publicly because of all the legal ramifications.
6. Coach Kevin Stefanski says Jacoby Brissett will start taking the majority of shots with the starters in practice. The Browns need to be realistic in grooming Brissett as a starter because of Watson’s looming suspension. Brissett did not play Friday. It’s time he paid full attention to training.
7. As for Watson’s performance, he looked like a guy who hadn’t played in 19 months. His support was awful – two dropped passes from Anthony Schwartz, two waiting penalties and a false start. All this in the first quarter. Watson was 1 of 5 passing for 7 yards. I don’t understand much about it.
8. But I was also impressed with my first long look at Joshua Dobbs in action. The 27-year-old from Tennessee has been in the NFL for four years but has only thrown 17 passes in the regular season. He was intriguing Friday night, completing 10 of 13 passes for 108 yards and a touchdown.
9. Dobbs was ready. He’s athletic and kept the game alive with scrambles and then made smart decisions when he pitched. Let’s see more of him. Maybe the Browns have their backup in Brissett.
10. Stefanski on Dobbs: “Josh does a good job in and out of the group, he sees it very clearly. And I think his athleticism really showed. There have certainly been some jostling. Had a touchdown where he had a free runner right in his face going to his left, went over the play and handed it to Jerome (Ford). So an impressive performance from Josh.
11. Josh Rosen was solid, completing 6 of 7 passes for 56 yards. Rosen, 25, is on his fifth team. He failed in Arizona and Miami, where he had a chance to start. I guess we’ll see a lot of Dobbs and Rosen in the last two preseason games.
12. I have a thing for Rosen because he was my No. 1 ranked QB before the 2018 draft… I have to live with that pick. For what it’s worth, I had Josh Allen at No. 2 and Baker Mayfield at No. 3. I brushed off Lamar Jackson and Sam Darnold. So, as general manager, I would have been fired after this draft.
13. I will talk to the Bay Village Library on Tuesday, August 23 at 7 p.m.. It’s free. I will meet fans, sign books and it will be fun.
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