Browns' Deshaun Watson: Knew this season would be 'challenging'

PITTSBURGH -- Quarterback Deshaun Watson admitted Sunday that he knew his first season with the Cleveland Browns "was going to be challenging."

With Sunday's 28-14 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Browns finished with a record of 7-10, including a mark of just 3-3 in Watson's six starts.

"I knew I wasn't going to walk in and be the MVP of the NFL," he said. "I've got a lot of work to put in. ... and I've got a long way to go.

Watson was suspended the first 11 games for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy by committing sexual assault, as defined by the league, on massage therapists. Cleveland traded for Watson in March, sending three first-round picks to the Houston Texans before signing Watson to a new five-year deal worth $230 million guaranteed.

The Browns' offense, however, has struggled under Watson, who posted a QBR of just 36.7 (scale 0-to-100) over his six games.

On Sunday, Watson completed 19 of 29 passes for 230 yards and two touchdowns; but he also took seven sacks and threw a pair of interceptions, which the Steelers turned into 10 points.

The Browns offense scored just eight touchdowns total in Watson's six games.

"I wasn't naïve to the point where I'm walking in and 'Hey, we're going to go to the playoffs and undefeated and do all these things,'" said Watson, who led the NFL with 4,823 passing yards in 2020 but sat out the entire 2021 season after demanding a trade from the Texans. "I knew there'd be some challenges and a learning curve. I'm not sure who would think that I would walk in and just be the best quarterback in the NFL. I wasn't expecting that."

Watson said he was looking forward to an entire offseason with Browns head coach and offensive play-caller Kevin Stefanski as well as Cleveland's receivers, including Amari Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones.

But when asked, off that, if he expected to return to his 2020 level to begin next season, Watson answered that he doesn't "have an expectation" for himself for 2023.

"That's for the media, you guys," he said. "For me, I got out there and go to work. My job is to go out and try to win the game. Whatever expectations people put on myself, I'm not going to do that, because then I'm limiting myself and think about, 'Oh, I need to impress this person, impress that person.' That's not me."