CLEVELAND, Ohio — Scribbles in my notebook after the Browns’ preseason 24-13 victory in Jacksonville on Friday:
1. The Deshaun Watson camp is trying to settle with the NFL. They leaked to the Associated Press that they were willing to accept an eight-game suspension and a $5 million fine. Then Watson apologized “to all the women I influenced in this situation.” The comments were made to Browns sideline reporter Aditi Kinkhabwala before the match.
2. You can make your own decision about the apology, as did the massage therapists who were part of the various civil lawsuits – 23 settled by Waston, 30 by the Houston Texans. The Watson camp is far from its demands of no suspension and Watson’s comments about “never attacking or disrespecting a woman”. They are clearly trying to avoid a one-year suspension, which the NFL is asking for 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 against the six-game penalty soon. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has pushed for a one-year suspension for what he calls Watson’s “predatory behavior.” Doesn’t all of this seem to eventually end up in the justice system?
4. This was an unsavory affair, which reflected badly in the Browns, Watson and the NFL. The Browns volunteered to be a part of it when they traded for Watson, knowing all the civil lawsuits were against him. I still can’t believe the Browns traded six picks (including three first-rounders) and gave Watson the NFL’s largest guaranteed contract ($230 million), but that was their decision. And they have to deal with the consequences.
5. Most of the fans who write to me are either
a) Angry the Browns did this;
b) Want to propose a way to litigate the situation and find a settlement; or
c) Sick of the story and the endless speculation.
I hate how it broke the fan base. I don’t like how it has the coaching staff in a difficult position, preparing for the season and also having to answer questions that should only be handled by Watson and the Browns. But the key figures will not discuss it publicly because of all the legal ramifications.
6. Coach Kevin Stefanski said Jacoby Brissett will be taking the most shots with the starters in practice. The Browns must be realistic to prepare Brissett as a starter because of the suspension looming over Watson. Brissett did not play on Friday. It’s about time he got the most attention in practice.
7. Watson’s performance, he looked like someone who hadn’t played for 19 months. His support was appalling: two missed passes from Anthony Schwartz, two penalty holdings and a false start. All that in the first quarter. Watson was 1-of-5 and passed 7 yards. I don’t read much into that.
8. But I was also impressed with my first long look at Joshua Dobbs in action. The 27-year-old from Tennessee has played in the NFL for four years, but threw only 17 regular season passes. He was intriguing Friday night, completing 10 of 13 passes for 108 yards and a TD.
9. Dobbs was ready. He is athletic and kept playing with scrambles alive, then made wise decisions when he threw. Let’s see more of him. Maybe the Browns have a backup of Brissett.
10. Stefanski on Dobbs: “Josh does a great job in and out of the huddle, sees it very clearly. And I think his athleticism really showed up. Definitely had a few scrambles. Had a touchdown where he had a free runner right in the face who went to the left, extended play and threw 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 in his fifth team. He has failed in Arizona and Miami where he had a chance to start. I think we will see a lot of Dobbs and Rosen in the last two preseason games.
12. I have a soft spot for Rosen for being my No. 1 ranked QB before the 2018 draft… I have to live with that choice. For what it’s worth, I had Josh Allen at number 2 and Baker Mayfield at number 3. I sent Lamar Jackson and Sam Darnold away. So as a GM I would have been fired after that draft.
13. I speak at the Bay Village Library on Tuesday, August 23 at 7:00 PM. It is free. I meet fans, sign books and it gets fun.
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