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Commentary: Timing of Deshaun Watson injury is brutal, but No. 1 defense can save season

OK, everybody calm down.

Take a deep breath.

Maybe take the dog for a walk or grab a deck of cards and play some solitaire.

In the words of the great “Animal House” philosopher Bluto Blutarsky, “Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?”


Hey, this is the NFL. Stuff happens. Players get hurt. Even a $230 million quarterback who had missed most of the last two years and wasn’t exactly lighting it up in this one.

Until Sunday.

Well, at least the second half Sunday.

Browns ‘devastated’ for Deshaun Watson, but goals for season don’t change after franchise QB’s injury

It was then that Deshaun Watson did light it up, with his legs and his arm, and his leadership, as he led the Browns to one of their most memorable wins, over one of their biggest rivals, period.

That game felt like Watson’s long-awaited coming-out party.

Then came Wednesday’s going-away announcement. Blame the MRI that revealed a broken right shoulder, ending Watson’s season and silencing Dawg Pound barking everywhere.

With the hated Steelers only days away from another visit to Cleveland for another heated neighborhood brawl, we’re back to the Dorian Thompson-Robinson/P.J. Walker rotating quarterback jamboree.

Deshaun Watson ‘hurt,’ ‘in disbelief’ after learning broken bone in shoulder will end his season

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that the Browns literally had a rocket scientist as a backup quarterback until they traded Joshua Dobbs before the season, preventing him from being this year’s Jacoby Brissett.

But all that is murky water under a rickety bridge. With Watson done for the year, there are only two chairs in the Browns quarterback room, and Bernie Kosar isn’t sitting in either of them.

That doesn’t mean, however, that this thing won’t work. It can, and it might, whether it’s DTR or PJW.

Because let’s consider the context.

Rookie QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson to start vs. Steelers on Sunday

It can fairly be argued that the Browns this year — not because they wanted to, but just because it happened — have marginalized the most important position on the field: the quarterback. Normally that’s a death sentence for a football team, but not this one. Not necessarily.

Watson’s season-ending injury is unlucky and unfortunate, but it’s not the end of the world, thanks to the Browns’ monster defense.

Consider this: The Browns have gotten this deep into the season as one of the best teams in the league and Watson’s contribution was basically one game — actually, one half of one game. His last game.

With the Browns’ historically great defense, this should be survivable.

Granted, Watson’s tour-de-force 14-for-14 passing line in the second half of the win at Baltimore was impressive. But it was also Watson’s only $230 million-looking performance of the season, and the best of it was only in the second half.

We’ll never know how the rest of Watson’s season would have played out, or in what way it would have helped shape the team’s eight remaining regular-season games. But we do know that Watson played a full game in only five of the Browns’ nine games.

The loss of Nick Chubb was a bigger blow to the team’s season than the loss of Watson. But Watson’s spectacular second half in Baltimore may have been an indicator that better days and games were ahead. Alas, now we’ll never know.

Fortunately for the Browns, their season is riding on the back of their monster defense, an immovable object and irresistible force that has done most of the heavy lifting this season.

Unfortunately, the loss of Watson, and the baffling decision by Andrew Berry and company — especially for a Super Bowl-contending team — to grossly undervalue the importance of having an experienced, dependable backup quarterback exacerbates the situation even more.

The Browns do catch a break of sorts with their remaining schedule. After Pittsburgh, five of Cleveland’s seven remaining games are against the Broncos, Rams, Bears, Texans and Jets, who are a combined 19-27.

The Browns apparently intend to add a third quarterback soon. Who that will be remains to be seen. My guess is it won’t be Joe Burrow.

In the meantime, the fate of this Browns season rests in the hands and schemes of defensive wizard Jim Schwartz and a hurricane named Myles Garrett.

After all this if the Browns are able to somehow win their division, Garrett will be a strong candidate for Defensive Player of the Year and perhaps even the league’s Most Valuable Player.

It’s all hands on deck now. Watson was lost just as Watson was emerging as the elite quarterback Team Haslam thought it was buying $230 million ago.

So far, the payoff on that investment was the second half last Sunday in Baltimore when the quarterback, playing with a badly sprained ankle and a broken bone in his throwing shoulder, threw 14 passes and completed all of them in a stunning upset of the Ravens.

Three days later came the stunning subtraction of the quarterback from the active roster.

Because with the Browns, it’s always something.

Jim Ingraham is a sports columnist for the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram and the Medina Gazette. Contact him at 329-7135 or and follow him @Jim_Ingraham on Twitter


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