CLEVELAND -- Two weeks into the 2016 regular season and the Cleveland Browns are starting their second quarterback in as many games, as veteran Josh McCown takes the helm of the offense from Robert Griffin III, who suffered a broken bone in his left shoulder in a 29-10 season-opening loss to the Philadelphia Eagles last Sunday.
Although the Browns are making another change at quarterback, a position they have struggled to get consistency from since returning to the NFL in 1999, the players believe having McCown under center will make for a smooth transition.
“Pretty seamless, honestly,” offensive lineman Joel Bitonio said. “Both of them were really on top of the game, like when it came to blitz pickups, checking into plays and protections. Josh is so savvy and RG is a vet himself. To have both of them there, it has been pretty seamless. We had Josh last year for most of the time, so I was pretty used to him, and he is doing a really good job so far.”
Running back Isaiah Crowell added, “We have some great quarterbacks, and I feel like Josh can get it done. He has been getting it done in the league for a long time, and I am very confident that he has what it takes to win the ball game.”
In his first season with the Browns, McCown won the starting job out of training camp, but was hampered by injuries for the bulk of the year.
On the Browns’ very first drive of the 2015 season, he suffered a concussion while lunging for the end zone, and missed the following game. Later in the year, he played through shoulder and rib injuries before succumbing to a broken collarbone in a Monday Night Football loss to the Baltimore Ravens in late November.
When healthy, McCown proved to be an impactful player, as in eight games, he completed 186 of his 292 attempts (63.7 percent) for 2,109 yards and 12 touchdowns against four interceptions.
Early in the season, McCown broke a pair of franchise records in a 33-30 win over the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium.
McCown completed 36 of his 51 throws for 457 yards and two touchdowns in the win over the Ravens. The 457 yards were a single-game franchise record, surpassing the previous mark of 444 collected by Brian Sipe against the Baltimore Colts on October 25, 1981.
“As far as Josh coming in, I am just super excited that he is still on this team,” defensive back Joe Haden said.
“He is a true pro. It is not like he has extra preparation that he has to do. I just feel like he has been studying like he has been the starter the whole time going over everything, going over all the checks. We feel very, very confident in Josh.”
Like Haden, wide receiver Terrelle Pryor is happy McCown is still on the team, especially after the two worked out together during the offseason.
“Josh is awesome,” Pryor said. “He is an awesome leader. He is a guy that is very knowledgeable with just how he handles the quarterback position, how he handles the protections, how he handles the places he goes with the ball. He is just a team guy.”