C.J. Stroud struggles reminder that Browns are in good hands

C.J. Strouds struggles against the Ravens remind us all that Deshaun Watson and the Browns will be just fine in 2024

Cleveland Browns
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C.J. Stroud should win the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award running away. The Houston Texans quarterback was sensational with 4,108 yards and a 23-to-5 touchdown-to-interception ratio this year. He then led his team to a dominant 45-14 win over the Cleveland Browns in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs.

Following the loss, Stroud was praised as the next big thing, and that led to some shade being thrown at Deshaun Watson. While it's true the Browns starting quarterback hasn't been the franchise changer Cleveland hoped he would be, he hasn't been a bust either — and we were all reminded of that on Saturday thanks to Stroud.

Facing the Baltimore Ravens in the Divisional Round, Stroud struggled all day and was held to just 175 yards passing with no touchdowns. For the Ravens, that means they haven't lost a game with Lamar Jackson under center since Week 10. That was when they were defeated by none other than the Cleveland Browns — and Deshaun Watson went off in that one.

Watson started slow as he was dealing with a shoulder injury but then went 14-of-14 for 134 yards with a touchdown as Cleveland came back to win. Unfortunately, Watson was sent to the IR after this game as a broken bone was discovered in his shoulder but no one can deny he was dealing in that win.

Browns, Deshaun Watson have high ceiling in 2024

Cleveland was able to reel off four wins to close out the season with Joe Flacco which has led to the narrative that Watson is a bust. But that's not exactly true. Cleveland was 5-1 in games he started — and while P.J. Walker was under center for much of the win against Indianapolis, the Browns were still winning with Watson. And he was getting more comfortable working with Kevin Stefanski.

Remember, this is an entirely new system for him and while Flacco hasn't worked with Stefanski, he has spent time with Gary Kubiak who runs a similar system. Looking ahead, the Browns are changing things up and could be making their offense more "Watson-friendly."

Throw in the fact that they now can win thanks to their defense — plus the experience their backups obtained in 2023 — and the future is bright for this team.

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