Veteran quarterback Josh McCown will take over as the Cleveland Brown’s starting quarterback this week against the Baltimore Ravens after starting quarterback Robert Griffin III was declared out with an injury.
And the Browns will actually be better as a result.
Now, ultimately, you hate to see someone like Griffin, who has already worked so hard to get back to a starting position after injuries stunned his once promising career, go down with another injury. And it will certainly be a loss for this team and the locker room. After all, this is the guy who was voted as a team captain just months after joining the Cleveland organization.
But from the moment the Browns announced that Griffin had been placed on injured reserve and would miss a significant amount of time, only one thought crossed my mind.
The Browns might actually have a chance at winning some games this season now.
First off, let’s make one thing very clear. Griffin isn’t a bad quarterback. He certainly has a lot to learn before he can be a legitimate starting quarterback in the NFL, but he could one day be a good player in this league once again.
At this point though, Griffin clearly hasn’t learned how to be that type of player. He still leaves the pocket too soon. He still forces things instead of letting the game come to him. And most important, he still hasn’t learned how to protect himself, which was proven by his injury in the first week of the season.
McCown, on the other hand, is essentially the opposite of Griffin at this point. He’s going to get the ball out quickly and put the game in the hands of his receivers. He’s going to be reliable in the pocket and the offensive line will know where he is at all times. He brings a consistency that is desperately needed.
The bottom line is that McCown will put the Browns in a better position to win games right now. Cleveland has plenty of very talented weapons on the outside in Terrelle Pryor, Corey Coleman, Gary Barnidge and Josh Gordon (when he returns). McCown’s presence will make all of them better because he will get them the ball in better positions to be successful.
Last year was the perfect example of what McCown brings to the Browns. Look at what he did for Barnidge last season. Before McCown became the quarterback in 2015, the tight end had just 44 catches in six seasons, but last year with McCown as the quarterback, the tight end caught 79 passes for 1,043 yards and nine touchdowns, torching his combined career stats in just one year.
McCown literally turned him into a Pro-Bowl player in 2015.
Now maybe Barnidge would have been able to do the same thing with Griffin this year, but if Sunday’s game is any indication, then it seems like McCown has a lot to do with the tight end’s success. Against the Eagles this week, Barnidge did not have a catch and Griffin only targeted the 2015 Pro Bowler twice.
Clearly, McCown has made the tight end better and he will do the same thing with the rest of Cleveland’s offense. Will it make them a Super Bowl contender? Absolutely not, but it will at least make them more competitive on offense, which has to be a welcome sight to all Browns’ fans at this point.
At age 37 though, McCown is clearly not the future for this team, which is likely the reason he was not the starter to begin the season. With that in mind, it’s made several people in Cleveland start to speculate that the Browns should tank the season to get a quarterback in next year’s draft, but McCown ensured everyone that it won’t be happening with him at the helm.
“For us to just sit back and say, ‘Yeah, this is the year that we’re gonna tank’ and all that, for a player that’s not our mindset at all and that’s not our expectation, and it fires me up when people say that,” McCown said. “It fires me up and makes this task even greater. We embrace the opportunity to go out there and maybe do something that people don’t think we can do.”
“For me and the other veterans on this team, a Hall of Famer like Joe Thomas, that can’t and won’t be the mindset. Our mindset is to compete and play to win football games. The rest of that is down the road, but our mindset is to compete.”
And now with McCown behind center, the Browns are more equipped to actually do just that – compete.