For the first time since early January 2021, quarterback Deshaun Watson played football on Friday night. In three series, he completed one of five passes for seven yards.
Coach Kevin Stefanski assessed the performance in a post-game press conference.
“I think he probably wants some throws back,” Stefanski said. “Obviously, playing football for the first time in a while, I thought it was important to get out there with his teammates in this scheme, just hearing a different voice in the helmet, those type of things. I’m sure he had the butterflies and the jitters early. But I think he understands there’s work to do.”
Stefanski said he doesn’t believe the drama regarding Watson’s off-field issue affects his performance. Stefanski also downplayed the idea that not playing with other starters was a factor.
“They had a bunch of players that they don’t play either,” Stefanski said. “So I don’t look too much into that. It’s just — you know, it’s our first game out there. And I think you could tell. You know, I think Jacksonville had one game into it. So for us, just to knock some rust off and then get back to work.”
Stefanksi remained appropriately even keeled about the situation with Watson.
“I think this was important for him to get out there in a game setting, under the lights, with new teammates and go operate,” Stefanski said. “It wasn’t going to be perfect. And even if it was perfect, you can’t overreact to that either. So I just think it was all part of the progression for him.”
As to the apology unexpectedly issued by Watson before the game, Stefanski seemed to welcome it.
“I’ve been around Deshaun now for a few months, and I know he wants to grow,” Stefanski said. “I know that he does. And that’s personally; that’s professionally. And I think he’s very, very serious about doing that. And I think that’s part of that next step for him.”
It’s a step that is coming far later than it should have, frankly. So much could have been avoided if Watson had acknowledged his behavior and made real amends when the claims first were made. If he had people around him who had spoken had truths instead of circling the wagons, maybe that would have happened.
The reckoning always comes. The question is whether it’s embraced or resisted. The longer it’s resisted, the worse it tends to eventually be.