CLEVELAND -- Whether it be for health or performance reasons, the Cleveland Browns have been forced to play at least three quarterbacks in each of the last four seasons, and despite working hard to distance themselves from the “Same Old Browns” moniker, the injury bug has put them one step closer to extending the dubious streak.
In the 2016 regular-season opener, a 29-10 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field, starter Robert Griffin III suffered a broken coracoid bone in his left shoulder and was placed on injured reserve Monday. He will miss at least the next eight games, and in his absence, the Browns have turned to veteran quarterback Josh McCown.
“It is unfortunate,” offensive lineman John Greco said. “He was trying to make a play for us. It’s just kind of a bad luck thing. We have to do better to keep him clean so he doesn’t have to take unnecessary hits. That is the NFL. We just wish him a speedy recovery, and hopefully, he can get back as soon as possible, but I have all the faith in the world that Josh is going to be able to lead us to some wins.
“That is the thing. It is just the way it goes. There are some other teams that are down in their quarterbacks right now, too. We just have to be able to fight out of it and turn a negative into a positive. I think we are going to be able to do that with Josh.”
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. 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.
“He has played forever,” Greco said. “He is proven. He has won us games and he is a leader. He is just as willing as Robert to lead us to victories. We are not hanging our heads. We know that we have a guy that is going to come in and compete and be able to lead this offense.
“If you ask everyone on offense in the locker room, everyone is going to say that they can do their part a little better to help out, and that is what we are going to do going into this second week.”
Early in the 2015 season, McCown broke a pair of franchise records in a 33-30 win over the Baltimore 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.
For putting together a 457-yard, three-touchdown (two passing, one rushing) performance against the Ravens, McCown became the first Browns quarterback with three straight 300-yard passing games and was recognized as the AFC Offensive Player of the Week.
“I think just having Josh taking snaps now gives us a lot of confidence, not just because of that,” Greco said. “You feel comfortable with him back there, and it is not like a guy that is taking his first NFL snap coming up. We have a proven leader, a veteran. I am confident with his abilities.”