Not much has gone right for the Cleveland Browns this season, who are having arguably the worst year they ever have. They narrowly avoided a very imperfect season on Sunday when they won their first game of the season by the score of 20-17, which came in part courtesy of a field-goal block that earned the offending party special-teams player of the week honors.
While many will argue that things started to go wrong when they traded back from the number two spot in the draft, passing up the opportunity to draft quarterback Carson Wentz, the real bruises started in the season opener, when the quarterback they signed to start, Robert Griffin III, suffered a shoulder injury that landed him on injured reserve for most of the season.
He has only been back for two games, but he was knocked out of Sunday’s game with a concussion, and he may not be able to play in the season finale against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday. If he does not play, then rookie Cody Kessler, who has started most of the year and who has himself been knocked out of two games with concussions—including the first game against the Steelers—would start in his place.
Whether or not he is one the field with the starters on Sunday, however, Browns veteran All-Pro left tackle Joe Thomas said that he would not be surprised at all to see him back out there alongside him for the first snap of the 2017 season, which is something that has been in question.
Throwing his weight behind one of his five quarterbacks who have played this year, Thomas yesterday told reporters, “I think you’ve seen franchise-level talent for sure and I wouldn’t write him off by any stretch of the imagination”, when asked about Griffin’s future with the team as a starter. He is in the first season of a two-year contract.
“I wouldn’t be shocked at all if he was our guy at the beginning of next season because I think he’s shown enough that if they decide to make Robert the guy, I think he can definitely be the guy and I think he’d have the support of the locker room”.
Having such a core locker room component such as Thomas speak on his behalf like that would certainly go a long way toward the rest of the team having his back, but if we are being honest, there is still a lot that can happen between now and the start of the 2017 season, including the 2017 draft, for which the Browns are likely to have the first-overall pick.
The Browns believe that they have seen Griffin improve over the course of each of his first three starts with the team, and were hoping to use this final stretch of the season as a sort of audition for him to be their long-term option. It will throw a bit of a wrench into that plan if he is unable to play Sunday, but it certainly wouldn’t be the deciding factor either way.