The Cleveland Browns have a major problem at the quarterback position.
And what makes it even worse is that there is currently no clear answer to fix the issue.
Deshaun Watson made his return on Sunday after being sidelined for the past month and in the four drives he was on the field looked like a quarterback who is still dealing with an injury to the rotator cuff on his throwing shoulder. He only completed one of his five attempts, threw an ugly interception, had a second interception overturned on replay, and did little to make anyone think it was going to be anything other than a long day in Indianapolis.
The Browns are now six games into the season and outside of the game against the Tennessee Titans in Week 3, Watson has yet to put together a consistent effort. The injury did not help, of course, but there is enough evidence to make it fair to wonder if Watson is capable of regaining his mojo from his days with the Houston Texans.
That is a major problem because the Browns and Watson are tied together for at least the next two seasons thanks to his guaranteed contract.
If Watson’s less-than-stellar showing today is due to him rushing back from his shoulder injury, or if he re-injures it in the coming weeks or suffers another injury, then the Browns are in trouble because the backup quarterback options are not good.
Dorian Thompson-Robinson showed in his one start that a fifth-round rookie is not a viable option.
That leaves P.J. Walker, who, bless his heart tries, but has not exactly been the reason the Browns have won the past two games with him behind center.
Walker has led 25 offensive drives and the Browns have scored three total touchdowns - all on the ground. He is completing just 50 percent of his passes and tossed three interceptions while posting a quarterback rating of 51.3 vs. the Colts and 45.2 against the 49ers.
Ball went up, Rodney came down with it.— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) October 22, 2023
Walker has also led two game-winning drives that are hard to believe when you look at the numbers.
Against the San Francisco 49ers, he was 0-for-5 on the drive that culminated in Dustin Hopkins’ 29-yard field goal. Against the Colts, it was 3-of-9 on the drive that ended with Kareem Hunt’s rushing touchdown. That drive featured what would have been a game-ending fumble that was overturned because of a penalty and a defensive pass interference call on a pass that Donovan Peoples-Jones was never going to catch.
Was this ball uncatchable or should it have been pass interference on the Colts? pic.twitter.com/W1VpEuJOUf— Arye Pulli (@AryePulli) October 22, 2023
Those types of drives are simply not sustainable.
So what are the options if general manager Andrew Berry and head coach Kevin Stefanski can’t live with the idea of Walker or Thompson-Robinson being one Watson hit away from seeing the field?
The reality is that there is not much to be done.
The easy, or lazy depending on your take, answer is to call the Washington Commanders and work out a deal to bring Jacoby Brissett back to town as QB2. Brissett knows the offensive system so he would easily slot right in, and while not spectacular he at least did more in his 11 games last season than Walker or DTR have shown this year.
The problem with that is current Washington quarterback Sam Howell is not good. So even though the Commanders season is spiraling down the drain after losing four of their last five games, even a head coach as limited as Ron Rivera will likely realize that the team will eventually need to sit Howell, and having a veteran like Brissett on hand can help a head coach fighting for his job.
Berry could always give the Arizona Cardinals a call about fan and media favorite Joshua Dobbs, especially now that Kyle Murray is getting closer to returning to the field. But it is fair to question whether the idea of Dobbs playing quarterback is better than the reality of Dobbs playing quarterback.
29 saw an opportunity to lay out kirk cousins and ran like he was dk metcalf chasing down budda baker pic.twitter.com/bQo22VxTAN— Brian Floyd (@BrianMFloyd) October 1, 2023
Depending on the outcome of Monday night’s game, the Minnesota Vikings might be ready to throw in the towel on the season and look to trade quarterback Kirk Cousins. In theory that could be of interest to the Browns given that Cousins is familiar with Stefanski’s offensive system, but unless Watson is injured enough to go on injured reserve, what would the Browns do with Cousins?
There is always the extremely unlikely option of signing a free agent, but when you look at a list that includes the likes of Carson Wentz, Matt Ryan, Colt McCoy and Nick Foles you remember why they are free agents seven weeks into the season.
It is a pleasant fantasy to believe the Browns can fix the quarterback room mid-season, but the reality is that they are likely going to have to roll with what they have for the final 11 weeks of the season.
Whether that is good enough to help the team make a playoff run remains very much to be seen.
What do you think? Should the Browns make a move to acquire another quarterback? And if so, who?