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Battle Red Blog Groupthink: Final Thoughts On Watson’s Return

The writers get together several days after the game to evaluate the state of the Texans while Deshaun Watson was in town.

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Houston Texans
(muttering obscenities)
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

This week’s game was Watson’s illustrious return. The environment at the stadium was edgy, but never out of line. The Houston Texans offense will grab several headlines, but what do you think will be the lasting memory of this game?

Kenneth L.:

I’ll go first. I was at the game and the environment was quite unique. The fans were certainly more dialed in than other games. The stadium truly didn’t give the Texans fans much of a change to boo or jeer. They didn’t overly chant in big groups, at least nothing that could be heard around the stadium. The end zone appeared to be the biggest circus, but i was on the away side and there was definitely some back and forth.

The offense, oh my god the offense. It was quite possibly the worst performance in the air I’ve seen. Pierce is a DOOD. The guy can play. And the offense can block. Pep Hamilton’s red zone offense is the worst. It’s actually the worst. We run the ball to get to the end zone and then we throw the ball. It’s demeaning. It’s inferrior. It’s unprofessional. I can’t with this offense. It’s like watching that kid in class who was the smartest kid in high school fail because of his home life.

Look, the Deshaun Watson situation is awful. Everyone loses. There was a TON of support for him among the Cleveland Browns faithful. A surprising amount of jerseys. But the lasting legacy of this game will be the fact that he’s back in the league. A new era in Cleveland, whether great or terrible or mistaken in nature, it’s a new show for them.

Carlos Flores:

I agree with Kenneth, it’s quite possibly one of the worst displays I’ve ever seen live.


Yeah, in the long term this game won’t be about the Texans at all and I seriously doubt it will have much of an impact on Watson long term. He will either get better after today or he won’t. If he does it will be a footnote in history. If he doesn’t it will still be a footnote in history. In terms of the Texans we should just say that Watson didn’t engineer one touchdown drive. In point of fact, you can probably give him indirect credit for three of their points. They scored 27. It’s how this season has gone for this team as their offense has found creative ways to reach new levels of ineptitude. Davis Mills? Kyle Allen? Jeff Driscoll? Slone Fortenberry? It doesn’t matter. The end can’t get here quickly enough.


I feel like this entire season should be one where if you remember any one piece of it you should be impressed. Because this season should be forgettable. Ideally, this season should be utterly forgettable because the only people who will remember watching these games this year are the ones who will be able to crow about having watched it when the Texans do return to something bordering on respectability.

That said, the opening fumble from the game will probably stick with me for at least a few weeks because that was just plain funny.

If we’re talking about LARGER THINGS than just the Texans and their performance today, then the thing I’ll remember is just how powerful sports can be that the desperation for a winning team will cause you to experience ethical amnesia in order to root for human garbage like Deshaun Watson. I will remember the swell of pity I feel for Browns fans that they feel like they have to stick up for “their guy” whether they want to or not.

I will remember this in combination with the weird specificity of the NFL’s 11 game suspension of Watson, the fully-guaranteed contract that he was given to backstop whatever financial losses he experienced “for his time and trouble” he spent on the Commissioner’s Exempt list. I will remember his bad attitude toward the team, his quitter attitude, his sulky teenager phase when things on the team didn’t go exactly his way. I will remember all of this being set up as a potential ploy by the NFL to set up a marketing bonanza to bring back one of their most marketable personalities (or at least they still hope he is).

I will remember all of this and then realize that Deshaun Watson didn’t score a single point in his “triumphant” return to Houston and I will laugh anew.

But I think the thing that will stick most, if anything in this game does, is that I didn’t see any Texans fans wearing Watson jerseys or any mealy-mouthed defenses by Texans fans for a truly terrible person.


On the surface, the memory should have been how poor Watson played, relative to the price and expectation levied on him after the trade, along with an absolutely brutal home-field reception from the Texans’ crowd, driving Cleveland to a silent count and making any Cleveland offensive execution a nightmarish slog. Yet, while Watson struggled, and the Cleveland offense did little of note, the home crowd, such as it was, offered little in the way of brutal noise and left the Houston game more enraged/numbed by the performance of the hometown offense.

Kyle Allen, if he ever harbored any hopes of being the future starter for the Texans after this season, can start looking for potential buyers for his local property, and updating his resume for another job (QB or otherwise). After the help he gave them today, Cleveland should welcome Allen with open arms in the off-season, even if just for a complimentary visit to the team facility. Pep Hamilton is making people long for the days of Tim Kelly, or even Chris Palmer. How quickly can we get to the off-season and the chance for potential future hope again?


On the show leading up to this game I wondered aloud if the Texans were the good guys in any of this? Why did anyone announce that several of the accusers would be present? Was it gamesmanship? They helped protect his money while he sat out and helped him get to a team that protected his future money. It’s now done that either option at QB is the “right one”. It’s now done that there’s no one to throw too, all we can do is run. We don’t tackle. For Watson all of this is just beginning. They were a top 10 last week so there’s pressure to see him push this team further, if he does or not remains to be seen. This will ultimately be about the return of a young franchise quarterback and the impact it will permanently have on both franchises. Were the Browns right in bringing him in, troubles and all, or were the Texans right in letting him leave for a pile of draft picks.