The Browns are one of the many NFL teams back in their facilities. Coach Kevin Stefanski is glad that for the first time in a long time, his players are able to “break bread” together.
They’ll have a plenty of breaking in to do with all the new faces in the organization. The most prominent one, Deshaun Watson, was among those in attendance for the first week of the team’s offseason conditioning program, and a flurry of questions intended for Stefanski followed Wednesday.
Atop the list were inquiries regarding Watson’s current standing with his off-field legal matters and potential suspension. Stefanski had no new information to provide on the matter and told reporters the team is ready to “adjust and address any new information” when it becomes available.
In the meantime, Watson and his fellow new quarterbacks have new teammates to get to know and an offensive system to learn. With Watson’s skillset differing from that of former starter Baker Mayfield, Cleveland’s scheme could look rather different from previous years spent under Stefanski. It’s a process Stefanski and his staff have already fled and will continue through the offseason.
“With the quarterback, you do want this to be a collaboration,” Stefanski said. It’s really all quarterbacks are different and you want to make sure you meet them where they are. Deshaun’s very open-minded to trying different things he hasn’t done. Similarly, we’re very open-minded to putting in schemes that he has a lot of success in that we haven’t done, for instance.So it’s an ongoing conversation, but just I would tell you, day in and day out with him, just spending time with him yesterday and today, he wants to certainly grow as a player.And he wants to try different concepts.
“I think that’s the beauty of the spring … where you can get out on the field and it’s somewhat of a laboratory. And you try things out and see what fits. There’s going to be a bunch of things that we hope fit and you take that into training camp and certain things that maybe he doesn’t love, you don’t do, because it’s ultimately what our quarterback is most comfortable doing.
“To get there, though, there’s a lot of meetings, there’s a lot of install, there’s a lot of practice that has to occur to ultimately tell you how much we will change.”
Cleveland reshaped its entire quarterbacks room this offseason, first acquiring Watson via blockbuster trade with Houston, then signing Jacoby Brissett and Joshua Dobbs. Mayfield is expected to depart at some point this offseason, either via trade or release, and the Browns already shipped his veteran backup, Case Keenum to Buffalo.
Now, the Browns have three quarterbacks with similar skill sets and the ability to handle the duties of whatever their adjusted scheme will require. Creating that scheme will be a team effort, Stefanski said, and won’t rely solely on the input of Watson, especially if he is suspended by the NFL and Brissett – a veteran with starting experience – will need to step into the first-string role.
“We felt like we added three good players, and ultimately, they do share some skill sets,” Stefanski said of the quarterbacks. “Not all the exact same in that regard, but certainly bigger, more athletic, the three guys together. Ultimately, it’s what those three guys do best, and there’s certainly a thread of things they do well that we want to make sure that we “re utilizing.”