Having an extra day in Cleveland for a practice/walkthrough won't be a significant benefit for the New Orleans Saints (5-9), who'll face the Browns (6-8) on Saturday at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Saints will depart for Cleveland after practice on Thursday, due to possible inclement weather on Friday, rather than Friday.
"I don't necessarily think that's the case," Coach Dennis Allen said of having the extra time in Cleveland. "We've done all the work we can do in terms of knowing what the weather is going to be like but ultimately, we're going to go out on Saturday and go play a game. I think we've just got to see what the conditions are on Saturday and then we'll have to adjust accordingly."
The conditions which will require adaptation: 13 degrees, cloudy, southwesterly winds at 29 mph and a 24 percent chance of precipitation.
"We've got to have contingency plans either way," Allen said. "It's just another factor that you have to take into account as you're putting in your game plan. If wind is a factor, we've got to have a plan to deal with that and if it's not as big a factor, then we've got to have a plan in that regard, too. It's a little bit tough in that you don't know specifically, but you've got to have contingency plans if that is the case."
While the weather can't exactly be nailed down, New Orleans is absolutely certain of who and what it will see at quarterback for the Browns. Deshaun Watson has started the last three games, after serving an 11-game, NFL-issued suspension to open the season. The Browns are 2-1 in those games, and Watson's play steadily has improved; he last had played in 2020 and was ruled out of every game in 2021 by the Texans for "non-injury reasons/personal matter."
In Watson's first game, against Houston, he completed 12 of 22 passes for 131 yards and an interception and ran seven times for 21 yards. In his second start, against Cincinnati, he completed 26 of 42 for 276 yards with a touchdown, and an interception, and ran for 33 yards on six carries. And in his last game, he completed 18 of 28 passes for 161 yards and a touchdown, with no interceptions, and ran six times for 22 yards.
"He's a really good quarterback," Allen said. "He brings an athletic element to the game. He's explosive at the quarterback position. He allows them some things that they can do with the quarterback run game, he allows them some things that they can do with getting him out of the pocket and on the move, and then his ability to improvise and make plays on the move I think is what makes him such a dynamic player.
"When you look at a guy like that that can operate in the pocket and operate effectively as a pocket passer, but yet has the ability when things break down to create with his feet – whether it be creating on the move to throw the ball on the move, or whether it be the quarterback scrambles – makes him really a tough player to play against."
New Orleans was one of several teams that expressed interest in Watson last offseason before the Browns were able to complete a trade with the Texans.
"Certainly, we did a lot of work on him and understand the type of player that he is," Allen said. "All you've got to do is turn on the tape to see what he's capable of doing.
"We've played a lot of mobile quarterbacks, but this is arguably one of the better quarterbacks in our league especially when he's been able to be out there, be healthy and be part of the team. I think you've seen over the last three games, each week you've seen him getting better each week."