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Deshaun Watson Talks Strategy on How to Beat the Steelers Defense

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson talked about the strategy of facing the Steelers and called their base defense very basic.



Steelers Browns QB Deshaun Watson
Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sept. 18, 2023. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

Deshaun Watson has faced the Pittsburgh Steelers enough at this point within the division to know what to expect from them. And there is strategy when playing against each team, but multiple teams create trouble for Pittsburgh when they get them into their base defense. On the QB Unplugged podcast that Watson hosts with his trainer Quincy Avery, Watson broke down how to attack their defense.

“The biggest thing is get the defense in what we want to get the defense in, and that’s a base defense, especially a team like Pittsburgh. When they’re in a base defense, they don’t play too many coverages. They’re kind of very schemed (as to) how they play. So once we had this situation, alright cool, we got them exactly how we want it, and then you just run the play and react,” Watson said.

Watson is still recovering from a shoulder injury that left him out for the season after suffering the injury in November. Watson also dealt with a nagging shoulder injury throughout the early part of the 2023 season which had already caused him to miss three games.

Watson is not wrong, and all you have to do is look at past games that the Steelers have played against the Browns, particularly in the Browns’ playoff win in Pittsburgh. That game was all about spreading the Steelers out by playing with multiple tight end and heavier personnel, which forced guys like Jarvis Landry onto Robert Spillane and other mismatches. It’s been a common point under Kevin Stefanski for the Browns to attack.

Under Teryl Austin, the team has worked in ways to combat that type of strategy against them, but it still can happen. And as Watson notes, they are not as versatile when they are out of their base packages, especially since Austin’s coverages and disguises mostly base out of their three safety set or nickel packages.