Browns QB Deshaun Watson to miss the remainder of the 2023 season, Dorian Thompson-Robinson in line to start against Steelers

2T5HP4A Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) rolls out against the Arizona Cardinals during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 5, 2023, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/David Richard)

The Cleveland Browns will now have to navigate their way to the playoffs in a loaded AFC without their starting quarterback.

The Browns announced on Wednesday morning that starting quarterback Deshaun Watson will miss the rest of the season after suffering a shoulder injury in Sunday’s win over the Baltimore Ravens.

The team is reportedly planning to start rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson at quarterback against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 11, with veteran P.J. Walker slated to serve as the backup.

Through the first 10 weeks of the season, Watson’s 66.4 PFF passing grade and 66.9 overall grade both rank 23rd among the 37 quarterbacks who have dropped back to pass at least 100 times this season.

While that’s not the elite level of play they were hoping for when they traded three first-round picks for Watson's services, it’s significantly better than the production they have gotten from Walker, whose 29.3 passing grade ranks last among that same group of players. 

Dorian Thompson-Robinson has dropped back just 44 times this season, 43 of which came in his first NFL start in the Browns' Week 4 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. The UCLA product finished 19-of-36 for 121 yards (3.4 yards per attempt), zero touchdowns and three interceptions in that game, good for a 33.5 PFF passing grade. 

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If there’s a silver lining for the Browns, it’s that they have run the ball efficiently this season and have the talent on defense with the front-runner for Defensive Player of the Year honors in Myles Garrett to keep them in games. And if they can go 4-4 over the final eight games of the year, it will likely be enough to get them into the playoffs.

For Watson and the Browns, it marks the second season in a row where the return on the investment spent by the team has not been met. Watson dropped back to pass 204 times and attempted 170 passes in each of the past two seasons. His 66.9 PFF grade in 2023 was better than his 55.3 grade in 2022, but in two seasons with the Browns, he has just nine big-time throws and 14 turnover-worthy plays.

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