NFL Preseason Week 1 Recap: Washington Commanders Defeat Cleveland Browns 17-15
Intrigue at QB position as Commanders and Browns face off, with Commanders yet to name a starter and Watson looking to bounce back.
In this highly anticipated matchup, both teams are facing intrigue at the quarterback position. The Commanders have yet to announce their Week 1 starter, adding an element of mystery to their offensive strategy. On the other side, Deshaun Watson is looking to bounce back after a disappointing season with the Browns in 2022.
The spotlight was on quarterback Sam Howell as he led the Washington offense in the first half. Howell showcased his scrambling ability on a crucial third-and-6 play, using his legs to pick up the first down. He then demonstrated his passing skills, completing 9 of 12 attempts for 77 yards. One of his standout moments was a 26-yard touchdown pass to second-year wide receiver Jahan Dotson. Dotson made an impressive adjustment to a high throw, evaded two Browns defenders, and effortlessly walked into the end zone.
Deshaun Watson had a solid start for the Browns, despite the opening drive ending with a turnover on downs. He displayed accuracy in his short throws, going 3-for-3 for 12 yards. Watson's mobility was also on display, as he made a couple of impressive scrambles for a total of 17 yards. With an additional designed run, Watson's rushing total reached 20 yards, surpassing his average in the 2022 season.
The Browns' defense, under the guidance of new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, had a strong start to the game. Despite missing key players like Myles Garrett, Denzel Ward, Greg Newsome II, and Grant Delpit, the defense made an impact. Defensive end Za'Darius Smith drew an offensive holding penalty in the end zone, resulting in a safety and the Browns' only score in the first half.
Rookie quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson continued to impress in the preseason. After earning a solid passing grade in the Hall of Fame Game, Thompson-Robinson delivered another encouraging performance. He completed 9 of 10 passes for 102 yards and a touchdown, earning an impressive passer rating of 142.5.
The Commanders' offensive line faced a challenge with the absence of potential starting left guard Saahdiq Charles. This provided an opportunity for seventh-round pick Chris Paul to showcase his skills. Paul held his own in pass protection, allowing just one pressure and earning a high pass-blocking grade of 74.9 on 16 pass-protection snaps, according to PFF's initial review.
Overall, this game was filled with excitement and anticipation, particularly at the quarterback position. Sam Howell and Deshaun Watson showed promising performances, while the defenses made their presence felt. Rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson continued to shine, and Chris Paul stepped up in the absence of Saahdiq Charles. It will be fascinating to see how these teams progress as the season approaches.