BEREA (92.3 The Fan) – If the Cleveland Browns didn’t have bad luck, they’d have none when it comes to quarterbacks.
The star crossed franchise that has had 25 different quarterbacks take the field, with each of them starting as well, since 1999 has had to shift gears once again.
Robert Griffin III, who signed a 2-year, $15 million deal in March, was placed on injured reserve – a day after the team’s 29-10 loss at Philadelphia.
“It’s football and these things happen,” Browns head coach Hue Jackson said. “It’s unfortunate but it does happen in this sport.”
Last year’s Week 1 starter – and current back up – Josh McCown will start Sunday’s home opener against the Baltimore Ravens while Griffin’s comeback bid comes to a screeching halt.
“That’s why we kept Josh here,” Jackson said, “because he knows how to play and he’s been in this league and understands our offense and what we’re trying to accomplish.”
Now the question becomes, how long can McCown survive until they have to go to plan C: rookie Cody Kessler?
This is the 15th straight season that the Browns will call on a backup to start. Six times – including each of the last 3 seasons – they’ve needed at least 3 starters to get through a year and this could be the seventh and fourth straight overall if Kessler is eventually called upon.
Griffin sustained a fractured coracoid bone in his left shoulder late in the fourth quarter according to the team and will be re-evaluated in 3-4 weeks to determine whether or not he’ll require surgery.
Under the 2016 injured reserve rules, a player placed on IR is eligible to return to practice in 6 weeks but must miss a minimum of 8 games.
The best case scenario for Griffin and the Browns is that he is able to return for the Thursday night game in Baltimore on Nov. 10. Should he be able to return to practice, the Browns could apply the ‘designation to return’ label.
“It’s heartbreaking, but at the same time you have to shift mindsets and go this is a job I have to do for my team,” McCown said.
The Browns had hoped that Griffin could stabilize what has been a turbulent position that has spun like a carousel annually since the return of the franchise in 1999.
“From a casual observer it’s been pretty bad luck,” McCown said. “It hasn’t gone well. For whatever reason, it’s just not gotten right.”
Griffin got hurt when scrambled for 11 yards on a third-and-15 with 3:45 left to play in the game, but he got clobbered by Eagles cornerback Jalen Mills before he could get out of bounds on the Philadelphia sideline.
Jackson, who preaches to his quarterbacks to play smart, doesn’t feel that Griffin put himself in harm’s way and he also didn’t feel Mills committed a foul with the hit on the sideline.
“I don’t think the guy was trying to hurt Robert,” Jackson said.
Griffin completed 12 of 26 passes for 190 yards and added 37 rushing yards in his Browns debut but sustained the third major injury since being drafted second overall by Washington in 2012. He tore his right ACL in a playoff game against Seattle in Jan. 2013, dislocated his ankle in 2014 that cost him 6 games and now this could cost him the rest of the season.
“Sometimes he’s not in control of everything, and it was unfortunate that it happened,” Jackson said. “But I think he’s seen enough situations and been in enough in this league to understand that things happen in due time and that you’ve got to work through this and be prepared when the next opportunity comes.”
McCown started 8 games for the Browns last season – including the opener – but sustained a concussion on the 14th play of the team’s opening drive of the season causing him to miss the next 2 games and his season ended when he broke his collar bone in a loss to the Ravens on Nov. 30.
McCown completed 186 of 292 passes for 2,109 yards with 12 touchdowns, 4 interceptions and a 93.3 rating for the Browns as the team made a total of 7 week-to-week changes at the position either because of injury, performance or discipline.