The Cleveland Browns are either set for the next decade at quarterback thanks to Deshaun Watson or doomed because Watson’s $230 million guaranteed contract makes him a liability if he does not regain his form.
Likewise, the Browns are either geniuses for getting something in return for a quarterback in Joshua Dobbs who had two career starts in six seasons before this year, or morons for not realizing that they would need Dobbs because their starting quarterback decided to take on a tackler and injure his throwing shoulder.
It’s Cleveland, so there is no middle ground when it comes to the quarterback, which is partially understandable given the state of the position since the team released Bernie Kosar 30 years ago.
Still, the truth, as it often does, lies somewhere in the middle, with the team’s success tied to their starting quarterback (just like every other franchise) and a backup situation that is not always going to be ideal (just like every other franchise).
GM Andrew Berry speaks to the media during the bye week https://t.co/yS6VVO2NMC— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) October 4, 2023
General manager Andrew Berry addressed both issues on Wednesday during a bye week press conference that covered several topics related to the 2-2 Browns.
Starting with, well, the starter, Berry said the team is not concerned that Watson’s shoulder injury will be a long-term concern (quotes via a team-provided transcript):
“We don’t view it as a long-term injury. I think Kevin mentioned earlier in the week, that there’s nothing structural. We are optimistic that it’ll heal in the short term and he’ll be ready to go. Deshaun’s been very durable throughout his career, and although he is mobile, he really is a passer first. So I guess really the short answer is, again the bye week comes at a good time. We’re, I’ll say optimistic, that it’ll resolve and we’ll be moving forward.”
As for the decision to trade Dobbs, Berry said he remains comfortable in the decision, both for this season and next:
“In terms of trading Josh, obviously we had a high opinion of Josh. He had been here for two seasons. I’ve often talked up here about the general manager’s role, having a foot in the present and a foot in the future and certainly that consideration and that transaction has elements of that. Thought it was the best decision, and we’re really excited to work with Dorian (Thompson-Robinson) and see him progress and develop. But thought was the right move for the organization both short and long term.”
While it was a rough debut for rookie quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday as he completed just 53 percent of his passes for 121 yards, took four sacks and tossed three interceptions, Berry believes the hard lessons will pay off in the future:
“There is a saying that I love, it’s experience is a hard teacher because it gives the test first and the lesson afterwards. And I felt like certainly, any rookie quarterback could probably attest during their first start that that is the case. Certainly challenging circumstances, but I know Dorian’s not making any excuses for it. That is the role of the backup to be able to step in at a moment’s notice. I think just realistically, when you lose a game 28-3 and you don’t play well on offense, we all look at what we could have done differently to support him. But we’ll continue to work, we’ll grow from it, we’ll learn from it, and we’ll move forward with him.”
Sunday did not go well for the Browns, much like how Week 2 against the Pittsburgh Steelers did not go well. That is an issue given that both of those were AFC North games.
But the situation was much different against the Cincinnati Bengals and Tennessee Titans, which circles back to the idea that things may never seem to be as good or bad on the extremes as they first appear.
The same can be said of the quarterback position, where a healthy Watson gives the Browns their best chance at a win, while Thompson-Robinson is going to give it his all, but backups are backups for a reason, especially at the quarterback position.
Given Berry’s comments today that is not going to change, so hopefully Watson is truly back in good health following the bye week and Thompson-Robinson will have a long time to absorb the lessons he learned against the Ravens before he is called upon again.