Cleveland Browns starting quarterback Deshaun Watson is officially out for the remainder of the 2023 season, the team announced in a statement Wednesday morning. Watson has missed three games this season with a shoulder injury in his throwing arm before taking a hit in Week 10 that forced a fracture requiring immediate surgical intervention.
Deshaun Watson will undergo season-ending surgery on a broken bone in his throwing shoulder. pic.twitter.com/W79ku2xzND— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) November 15, 2023
The Browns (6-3) are set to play the Pittsburgh Steelers (6-3) in Week 11 — a crucial intradivisional matchup in a tremendously close AFC North, where the Ravens lead the division by just a half a game. The Browns will move forward with veteran P.J. Walker as the presumed starter at quarterback and rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson as their backup for the remainder of the season.
Walker has played three games for the Browns this season, completing 49.5% of passes for 618 yards, 1 touchdown and 5 interceptions for an abysmal NFL passer rating of 51.8, though the defense helped carry them to 2-1 in those games despite the play at quarterback.
Initially following Watson’s injury in Week 4, it was Thompson-Robinson the team elected to start, and by all accounts, it was also a disaster. He threw for 121 passing yards, no touchdowns and 3 interceptions, having taken four sacks on the day for a combined 48-yard loss. Ouch. It is worth reminding that his first start couldn’t have come against a worse opponent, the Baltimore Ravens, allowing a league-low 4.1 yards per play while producing a league-high 39 sacks through the first ten weeks of the season.
With a few more reps under his belt, Thompson-Robinson might be the Browns’ best shot at remaining competitive in the AFC North, one of the league’s tightest divisions.
Ironically, the Browns could really use a guy like Josh Dobbs right now, who the team traded to the Arizona Cardinals just before the season. After starting eight games for the Cardinals, Dobbs was then traded to the Minnesota Vikings at the NFL trade deadline following a season-ending Achilles injury to Kirk Cousins.
What’s happened since? It’s been nothing short of miraculous. Just days after the trade, Dobbs was asked to step in at quarterback after a concussion forced rookie Jaren Hall from the game. Down two quarterbacks, the team was forced to send Dobbs into action, who had just days with the playbook and had not yet practiced with the team. He went on to win the game for them, throwing 158 passing yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions, adding an additional 66 rushing yards and a score on the ground.