The 2023 season was supposed to bring the Cleveland Browns some much-needed stability at quarterback. However, some early struggles from Deshaun Watson made this situation a little more rocky than expected.
Now, things have taken a turn for the worse as Watson nurses a mysterious shoulder injury that's perplexed his teammates. This unexpected absence from Watson, which could bleed into Week 6 or even beyond if he doesn't progress, has prompted serious discussions about the team's QB depth.
One major talking point among the Dawg Pound right now is regrets with how Cleveland handled former backup quarterback Joshua Dobbs. While Dobbs has surprised in Arizona, any strong takes at the moment regarding his trade are misplaced.
Let's not forget the incredibly different feelings there were on Dobbs and rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson in the preseason. DTR made his case as a threat to win the QB2 role from the jump in the Hall of Fame Game, going an efficient 8-of-11 for 82 yards and a touchdown.
In the second preseason contest against Washington, both Dobbs and Thompson-Robinson got significant snaps, yet it was the latter who impressed. Dobbs was an uninspiring 8-of-16, accounting for zero scores and throwing an interception. He looked exactly like a fringe journeyman quarterback who's struggled to catch on with any team during his career.
Meanwhile, it was DTR who helped give the preseason offense life once he stepped onto the field. He led the Browns to two scoring chances in the third quarter versus the Commanders, with the first leading to a field goal (which was missed) and the second he capped off with a passing TD to David Bell. The UCLA product finished the night as the Browns' best-looking quarterback despite Watson, Dobbs and Kellen Mond all suiting up.
At that point, Thompson-Robinson had made the most of both of his chances, while Dobbs severely underwhelmed despite having some legit competition behind him. The veteran did nothing in exhibition games to state his case, while Thompson-Robinson did. Why would the Browns have any reason to trust Dobbs to perform during the year if he couldn't take advantage of playing backups in the preseason?
You can argue they should've given him one last look. But this was a player who'd already spent the majority of the 2022 campaign with the team, so Kevin Stefanski and co. were completely familiar with his game.
Cleveland was wise to ship him off to a QB-desperate team. Not only did they snag a fifth-round pick from the Cardinals, who are expected to be one of the league's worst in 2023, but they also allowed a clear path for DTR's development. Youth under center is what runs the NFL, and the Browns would be foolish to not take a close look at what Thompson-Robinson could do.
Dobbs has gone on to look good in Arizona, but has he been that good? He's 1-4 as a starter, failing to produce much against the lowly Washington Commanders and New York Giants. He's thrown for 228 yards or fewer in four of five contests, including three efforts of under 200. He's also had a major problem with ball control, committing five fumbles in 2023 and throwing two interceptions against the Cincinnati Bengals last time out.
There's nothing about Dobbs' performance to this point that says he would've beat the Baltimore Ravens, which is what prompted talk about his trade in the first place. He's still just a game manager, and Cleveland would've been settling to slot him into the backup role instead of taking a chance on Thompson-Robinson.
This Dobbs vs. DTR debate isn't really worth discussing at all. Cleveland held a QB2 competition, and the rookie won it. The team made the right decision based on the evidence it had at the moment. The Browns made a move with the long-term future in mind by backing Thompson-Robinson, and anyone who's upset with that is falling victim to some major revisionist history.
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