QB Deshaun Watson (9.14.23)

What do you think when you look at that Steelers defense? 

“A well-coached group that flies around that wants to create problems for the offense, try to create turnovers and put you in long distances so their front can get after you a little bit.”


Obviously, the finale last year wasn’t the offense’s best game. So, when you go back and watch that film, what stands out to you the most? 

“We had our opportunities we didn’t capitalize on and we just got to go out there and just pretty much keep pushing forward. But we’re not thinking about last year. We’re focused on what we can do on Monday night.”


I heard you say somewhere that you kind of overcompensated and you were trying to grip the ball a little bit too hard in this past game. I mean, I guess can you sort of describe how that happened and why do you think your passing game is going to look so much better? 

“Yeah, I mean, it (was a) factor on both sides. It wasn’t just the Cleveland Browns passing game, it was the Cincinnati Bengals passing game too. Both sides were having problems with the weather. It was very wet so, the ball was heavy. Sometimes the weather factors in and you have to change your game plan. But hopefully, it’s clear skies on Monday night and we can really get the offense going and throw the ball around a little bit.”


Is that why you were gripping it too hard? Is that what you thought you were doing?

“It’s part of it. You just have to try to factor (it) and control the ball so it doesn’t slip out your hand.”


This is your first Monday night game as a Cleveland Brown. Does that stage excite you? 

“Yeah, it’s prime time. It’s an awesome opportunity for us to be able to go out there and then show the world what we got, what we can be. But at the end of the day, it’s still football. You still have to go out there and play 60 minutes or plus. And you just got to do your job.”


Even though you weren’t able to connect on some of those deep balls, especially the two for Marquise (Goodwin), do you go back and look at the film there and at least get excited about the fact that those plays were there to be made? 

“Yeah, the opportunities were there. We didn’t capitalize on them and there are going to be more opportunities for deep shots down the field. We just got to make sure we pick out our spots when we want to take them and hopefully this game, we can capitalize on those and make big plays and you know, get this offense really explosive.”


Dawand (Jones) was able to hold his own against the Bengals. He’s got a big task this week if he’s got TJ (Watt). How confident are you in the rookie?

“I’m very confident. He likes the challenge. He likes to be able to go out there and just play football and do whatever he can for this team, and he’s been learning from all the guys across the line, asking questions. I see him on the side talking to Joel (Bitonio), talking to Wyatt (Teller), talking to Jed (Jedrick Wills Jr.) and all these guys. And Bill Callahan, he’s going to make sure that he’s ready and prepared to go. So, it’s a great task for him, and I’m excited for his opportunity.”


Any trouble seeing over him?

“Yeah, I’m going to have to definitely move in the pocket a little bit to create some windows for myself.”


How about TJ Watt? With TJ across from you and coming at you half the time? How did that impact the game plan? You getting the ball out quickly and all the things that you have to do against him?

“Yeah, I mean, he’s defensive player of the year. If not the best player defensively, one of the top five defensive guys in the league. So, you have to give your respect to TJ and what he does, not just for himself, but for that organization. So, all respect to him and the things he does. But at the end of the day, you can’t just revolve a game plan all around just one person because then you’re limiting yourself. So, like we mentioned earlier, guys got to block one-on-one. Guys have to step up to the challenge and be able to do that. So, it’s a great task, but you got to give his flowers to number 90.”


We know how dangerous you can be when you hang onto the ball and you extend plays and make something happen like that. So how do you kind of strike that balance between, okay, I can make something happen if I hold onto it, versus I should get rid of the ball quickly on this play because there’s a TJ Watt coming?

“It just all depends on the play. It’s a quick game. The ball got to come out. You can’t hold it, drop back and move in a pocket, and then you can hold it a little bit longer. But you just got to pick your spot where you’re at on the field and the situation of the game, and sometimes you capitalize and sometimes the defense wins. So, you just got to win with that and take it as it comes.”


Steelers are 20-0 in their last 20 home games on Monday Night football. Obviously, the Browns have been defending the regular season since 2003. How do you start to change that trend? 

“Got to go out there and win. You got to go out there and earn it. They’re not going to give it to us. That’s a very impressive stat for them. But when we go in there, we can’t think about that stat. It’s a 2023 year. We can’t focus on the past, and we have to try to break that tradition that they have going. But it’s not going to be easy. It’s definitely going to be a tough task, and I think we have a team that can go in there and do it.


You were able to experience a game there last year? The last game of the year. Anything particular about that environment? 

“Yeah, I mean, they have a great fan base. They support their team, and the defense really rallies around that energy, and they just try to make you do things that you wouldn’t normally do – get you kind of psyched out about thinking about other things. But we got to lock in, be laser-focused, and just go in there and block all the noise out and execute the game.”


Has Myles (Garrett) ever shown you the between-the-legs crossover hesitation? 

“Yeah, we’ve seen it a couple of times when we were practicing. During training camp he kind of did it, certain walkthroughs and stuff like that. But yeah, Myles, he can do whatever he wants to do.”


What is the quarterback thinking when you see a guy obviously playing with that kind of confidence to do that kind of stuff?

“Make sure you block him. That’s the only thing I can really say.”


We saw what Nick Chubb did last week. How does his threat every time you think, affect the defense? 

“Yeah, because you might think you have him in the backfield and he can break a tackle and gain five, even ten-plus yards. And I think with him carrying the ball, this is definitely a big bonus for our offense and big bonus for our team. So Chubb is going to be Chubb and do what he does. He’s going to work and he’s going to get what he needs to get.”


How much does it help you to have Myles here to go against in practice every single day to prepare you for the best in the NFL? 

“Yeah, I mean, Myles is the best in the NFL, just like number 90 (TJ Watt) and other guys around the league. But it’s a great task, not just for myself, but for our O-line to be able to go against him and Za’Darius (Smith) and the guys that we have upfront. So, whenever we step out there on the field on Sundays or whenever we do, they’re prepared and can hopefully match up to that opportunity.”


With the offensive line, I know you say you’ve moved on from last year, but I think that you were sacked seven times the last time you played Pittsburgh. I assume that’s a high number that’s ruining the minds of you and the offensive lineman, right? 

“No, we’re not worried about that. I mean, if you look at that game, I think four of the sacks came in the last two minutes where they were dropping back, hanging on the ball, things like that. So, like I said, we moved on from last year’s game and we got to focus on Monday, and we can’t worry about anything that happened in the past.”


Wyatt Teller’s 25-yard block went viral this week when you guys were sitting in the film room, and you see that up there on the big screen, what does that do for the team?

“I mean, it motivates the team. Everyone saw it. Everyone was hyped for Wyatt, and it just challenges everyone else around to finish plays like that. Wyatt is a guy that’s going to finish to the ‘T’, and he’s going to make sure he throws his body around for this organization, for these guys that are carrying the ball and myself. So, Wyatt, we love that guy and make sure he just stays healthy while he’s doing that, too. But outside of that, keep doing it.”


How excited are you to break out those white unis on a prime-time game? 

“Oh, super excited. I mean, unis are fresh and pretty clean, and it’s another excitement for us to go out there and just go out there and perform.”


The number of times that you run with the ball has been pretty consistent your whole career. It’s usually five to six times a game, consistent that way. Do you ever go in the game thinking, I can be more effective against this run, or does it just happen? 

“No, I just let it happen. It just depends on the game plan. So, I just kind of let it happen and let whatever Kevin (Stefanski) calls up and we just kind of go with the flow of the game.”


What would a 2-0 start mean? Especially coming against the AFC North?

“I mean it would be huge. It’s a huge start, like you just said, like two divisional teams, one at home, one on the road. I mean, it’s very big. So, yeah, it’ll be huge for us. But our main focus each and every week is to try to go 1-0. And so, our mentality right now, we’re 0-0 and we’re trying to be 1-0 Monday night.”


After the Aaron Rodgers injury, there’s a lot of focus on turf versus grass. As somebody who played for a couple of years on a turf surface, is turf less safe than grass, in your opinion? Do you have a preference between the natural surface and the artificial? 

“I mean, if I had a preference, I’d definitely take grass. I think it’s a little bit more forgiving on the knees and the ankles and things like that. The injury with ARod is tough, not just for the (New York) Jets, but for the league, for the NFL. I mean, that was a great storyline to have him in New York, and they had a great team and he was going to do special things, and I’m a fan of him, but to see him go down like that is tough. So, you know, I’m sending my prayers to him. But, if I had to pick, I’d pick grass for sure.”




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