QB Deshaun Watson (9.10.23)
Deshaun, Elijah (Moore) said that today wasn’t about making a statement to the rest of the league. It was about making a statement to yourself (the team). What kind of statement do you believe you guys made today?
“I think the results kind of, you know, speaks for itself. I think the biggest statement (was) for us to be able to go out there regardless of the adversity, regardless of the weather condition and pull through and get this victory. And that’s what it’s all about in this league, no matter how. If it’s a nasty one, if it’s a drive, it’s perfect. We knew we was going to have ups and downs, but how can we deal with the adversities versus a great team at home, with the weather conditions and still pull out the victory? And that’s what we did.”
What can you say about how well the defense played and how dominant they were from start to finish?
“They were great. And like I said before, I mean, the defense is going do what they need to do and they kept bringing the energy for us and just kept stacking away. And even though weren’t putting up points early on, they kept coming over there and just, ‘hey, just keep driving it. It’s going to click, it’s going to click.’ And they were always positive. So that’s the beauty of this team is being able to stay together regardless of what’s going on and just put points on the board so we can get that victory.”
How about that 13-yard touchdown run? Kevin (Stefanski) said that players got put in there yesterday morning, so unfold that play for us.
“Yeah, I mean, it was a check. That was the right check for us. I made the right call. I think it was Wyatt (Teller) that pulled on that one and made the block. And (Amari Cooper) Coop did a good job of blocking the guy on his outside number for me to get outside and I just got across the end zone. It was awesome play, awesome play call and everything worked to perfection for us to get in the end zone.”
Deshaun, you talked about you got to keep plugging away even when we’re not getting those results. How tough was it just throwing the ball, especially early on in the first half where it looked like you had some opportunities down the field you guys couldn’t connect and cash in on something else?
“Yeah, we wanted to test the weather out, see if we can really throw. The ball was heavy, the ball was wet. So once the ball is in the air, regardless of how it comes off the hands or not, it’s going to slow up a little bit. And Marquise (Goodwin), he did a good job of getting the separation, but it was a little bit short from my end, so we’re going to definitely improve on that. There’s going to be other opportunities for us to be able to capitalize on that so we can’t get frustrated. But I think not just for us, for Cincinnati, too. They couldn’t throw it either. So, yeah, it was a tough day throwing the ball, but what we need to throw in and get the little things, the couple of passes that I felt like I could have hit and I missed so I put that on me and I probably could have checked it down also. So it’s a good first game, first win and go watch the tape and see what I could have did better.”
You were running the ball, using your legs and making things happen.
“Yes, sir. That was the plan. Whatever I can do to keep the drives going and keep positivity going for this offense and staying ahead of the chains, that’s the key. And I always had that mindset since I was a little kid. A coach once told me is if you get three and a half yards each and every play, it’s a first down. So that’s the mindset just keep saying positive, keep pushing forward, and if I got to use my legs, don’t hold that against us. Make sure I use it.”
What about Nick Chubb and how he just supported everything that you guys did and churned out over 100 yards in these conditions?
“I mean, it’s Nick Chubb. He’s the best in the world, best in the league. And he’s going to continue to plug, he’s going to continue to run hard. First game for him, so I know he was a little bit winded but he kept doing what he needed to do and he ended up getting over 100 yards. I wish he could have gotten the end zone a couple of times but he’s going to have more opportunities for us.”
Did you check into the touchdown run? Was that originally a pass?
“Yeah, it was actually a pass and then the way they kind of developed on defense, they checked. So I checked and it was the right call. So sometimes we go into a play call. We have two plays, we have one play. Sometimes we have three, you know Kevin, like we said before, he gave me the keys to be able to check to the right play and I saw the perfect look and they did what we want them to do and we got in the end zone.”
Kevin acknowledged that he didn’t expect the conditions that you guys had today, especially the rain continuing. How much did the game plan change and how ready were you guys for that change?
“I think the coaching staff was super ready. Offensively, we wanted to, of course, throw the ball downfield. That was the plan all day. I think you’ve seen it earlier when we was taking those shots, you get to capitalize on them but we wanted to take some shots and be able to do that. But as the weather got bad and defense playing well, we didn’t want to – you got to play – it’s chess and you got to play field position and we got to continue. If the run game is running, let’s continue to run and feed Chubb and Jerome (Ford), but it definitely changed the game plan a lot. And I think Kevin as a head coach, he’s always got to be prepped for that. Us, as players, we looking at the weather report and say it’s going to stop, but it kept going. So, yeah, it just kind of happens that way. And we did a good job of adapting.”
What did it feel like to deliver the knockout after Myles (Garrett) got the sack, score the touchdown, but you run in that two point conversion that just pretty much took the win?
“That was (f*****g) awesome. That was so awesome. Just to feel the energy from the fans to get scoring touchdown and get the two point. I actually made a bad read, so I know I’m probably going to get a minus on that play. I was supposed to go outside, but I saw a hole and I just put my foot in the ground and ran behind Joel (Bitonio) and Wyatt (Teller) and those guys and then reached the ball over and it just capitalized that whole drive and the whole game. So it was awesome and the fans was awesome today. Thank the Dawg Pound and everyone in this city for staying, not letting the weather and affect us in the crowd. And it was awesome.”
It’s been a long time since this organization has won a home opener on week one,2004. I know it’s been a long time, but to start the season with the win in week one has got to set things right for you guys to start everything right. How does that just feel going forward?
“Oh, it feels great. Yes, sir, it feels great. Especially against a division rival, a team that’s elite. You got to give them credit. Elite last few years, went to the Super Bowl, should have been probably in the Super Bowl last year, whoever how that goes. But it was great. It was fun. It was awesome. It definitely sets the tempo for this year. But we have a lot to improve. We got to celebrate, enjoy this for the rest of the night and once tomorrow hit, once we wake up and get into that facility and watch the tape, once that tape is done, flush it and move on to Pittsburgh. And it’s going to be a tough one next week, Monday night in that stadium, they’re going to come bring it. They hate us. We hate them. And it’s going to be another tough battle in that division.”
Did you feel like Ja’Maar Chase disrespected you guys by ‘Cleveland is Cleveland’ stuff? And some of the other things that he said?
“I didn’t really get into it. It’s different. I don’t know. This is my first time pretty much in this rivalry, so I wasn’t here previously. I think defensively, of course it did. They wanted to prove a point, so I know they handled what they need to handle. But as far as me, I didn’t really get into it.”
How tough is it to see Jack (Conklin) go down like that?
“Super tough. I mean, he worked so hard to get back healthy and feel like himself again, and I think he was coming in very positive, very confident. We’re going to be right behind him, support him, sending our prayers and our love to him. We’re going to stick right there with him, and hopefully he can pull through and get better.”
What did you see out of the rookie (Dawand Jones) today? And then throughout camp it looked like he made a pretty big jump from where he was when he started.
“No, but definitely, I mean, a lot of people had him coming in and having to learn a new system. I think Ohio State was a spread offense coming in this system was totally different. But he did a really good job. He held his own. He did what he needed to do, and he has a full week now to prepare for a big task with TJ Watt. But I think he can handle it because, like were mentioning in the locker room, I think whenever he has that challenge and that big task, he steps up and he likes that challenge for him to be able to prove people wrong.”
It looked like on that first touchdown drive, you kind of got shaken up a little bit on that second play. What happened there? And how much did maybe that kind of helped lock in a little bit more because it seemed like from there on, you kind of had a different swagger, different level to your play.
“No, I wouldn’t say the swagger change or anything like that. It was a quick play. I was trying to read it out. They did a good job of sinking and then coming off. I think I had Coop early. I just lost vision of where he was, so I didn’t want to force the ball, especially in this condition, without seeing him. And I probably could have dumped it off to Elijah a little bit earlier, and I just kind of got held up. I couldn’t really brace myself because I think my feet are – I just was braced up, and I got hit, lost the wind, got hit in the nose, but that was pretty much it. And then we just continued on with the drive.”
What happened with the interception?
“It got tipped, so it was a scramble play, it was a shot play, and then I got outside the pocket. And then when I was scrambling, I seen eight. He was sitting in the middle, and when I threw it, the D lineman who was chasing me did a good job of getting his hands, and it got tipped. That’s why it kind of sunk on us like that. And 23 (Dax Hill) was right there.”
Deshaun, you’ve been facing your defense all summer. Do you know what Joe (Burrow) was in for?
“Of course. I mean, our defense was prepped up. I mean, they’ve been working really hard and Coach (Jim) Schwartz each and every day, he brings the energy. So for us to be able to go against you now, we’re prepared for their defense and I just knew that it was going to be a tough task for anybody that have to go against that defense. They’re a fired up group. They don’t take excuse my language, they don’t take (s**t) from anybody. And you can feel that from Jim Schwartz, and he’s a great addition, not just for the defense, but for this whole team. So those guys are fired up. They bring the swagger, they bring the energy, and I think we’ve seen it today.”
Deshaun, coming off the field, the fans out here are cheering you guys on and getting you guys riled up. How much can you feed off of that going into next week?
“Oh, we have to continue to feed off that. We feed off all of us. We’re starting with the locker room, start with the coaching staff, starting with the win, and then we start with the fans. I mean, we’re all one. We’re all Cleveland. So that’s how we see it. We do it together and we’re going to ride this thing out together and be able to win some big games and do the right thing in the positive way. So it was great to be able to feed off the fans energy, especially coming off the field with a victory is always awesome. And I know the city is going to continue to be rocking.”
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