How the Cleveland Browns Can Slow Deshaun Watson Sunday

Deshaun Watson
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The Cleveland Browns host Deshaun Watson and the Houston Texans Sunday. This is a pivotal game for Cleveland, as they sit in the middle of a frantic wild card race in the AFC. Watson, though the Texans are 2-6, is on a tear. He hasn’t thrown an interception since Week 5, and he’s amassed 18 total touchdowns through eight games. The Browns have struggled to contain opposing pass offenses in 2020, and this may be their toughest test yet. Cleveland must find a way to slow Deshaun Watson down in order to come away with a victory. Here are three opportunities to do so.

Three Ways the Cleveland Browns Can Slow Deshaun Watson Sunday

1. Keep Deshaun Watson off the Field

Well, duh. With Nick Chubb, Wyatt Teller, and Austin Hooperset to return from the injury list, Cleveland has its full offensive arsenal (minus Odell Beckham) back. Kevin Stefanski can finally get back to his philosophy on offense: run the ball, and then run the ball some more. Dominating time of possession is perhaps the most effective way to combat an opposing offensive superstar.

Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt should combine for at least 35 carries Sunday if all goes according to plan. With Teller back, the Browns can get back to their running scheme involving pulling guards that was so effective early in the season. Having Hooper back will also help in coping with the loss of Beckham. Expect to see a lot of play-action passes from Baker Mayfield to Hooper and Harrison Bryant against Houston. Also, simply put, Jarvis Landry needs to step up. A big game from him could catapult the Browns to victory and a 6-3 record.

2. Get Myles Garrett Some Help

Myles Garrett has a solid argument to win Defensive Player of the Year through nine weeks. However, he needs some help on the line. Somebody else is going to have to take advantage of all the attention Garrett receives from opposing offensive lines. Whether it’s Olivier Vernon, Sheldon Richardson, or Larry Ogunjobisomeone is going to have to make a play on Watson. If he gets too much time to throw, Watson will decimate Cleveland’s secondary with deep throws to Brandin Cooks and Will Fuller.

If the Browns are able to create some sacks, they’ve got a good chance at winning, but it can’t be all Garrett. He’ll have his usual impact on the game, but in recent weeks, his force has been the only thing creating pressure for opposing quarterbacks.

3. Get Houston Behind the Sticks

Third and long is the toughest down in football. The Texans run game isn’t particularly intimidating. It features a shell of David Johnson and former Browns scat back Duke Johnson. Cleveland must win in the trenches on defense and force the Texans to play catch-up with the sticks. Forcing Watson to make difficult throws is the best chance the Browns have at shutting him down. If they allow four or five yards on first and second down, Cleveland is in for a very long day. Push Houston back for losses on first or second down, and Cleveland has a good chance.

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