Cleveland Browns vs. Baltimore Ravens: Josh McCown hopes for 2015 repeat

By The Sports Xchange
Cleveland Browns' quarterback, Josh McCown, is tackled during fourth quarter action against the Baltimore Ravens on October 11, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. Cleveland won the game 33-30 with McCown passing for a franchise record 457 yards. Photo by Pete Marovich/UPI
Cleveland Browns' quarterback, Josh McCown, is tackled during fourth quarter action against the Baltimore Ravens on October 11, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. Cleveland won the game 33-30 with McCown passing for a franchise record 457 yards. Photo by Pete Marovich/UPI | License Photo

BEREA, Ohio -- There is one way to find a bright side to the Browns quarterback situation: Josh McCown has been through this before.

McCown will start at quarterback in the Browns home opener against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday because Robert Griffin suffered a broken bone in his left shoulder late in the game against the Eagles Sept. 11.


McCown got very little work with the first team in training camp, but that doesn't matter to the 14-year veteran in his second season with the Browns. Plus, though he was only 1-7 as a Browns starter last year, the game he did win happened to be against the Ravens when he passed for a franchise record 457 yards in a 33-30 overtime victory.

McCown isn't anticipating a repeat of that game 11 months ago, but it has to give him and his teammates some confidence.


"That was last year," McCown said. "This year what we see on tape is they're getting back to their form of how Baltimore plays defense. You see that they got some guys back. (Ravens linebacker) Terrell Suggs is back. They're a hard-nosed group. There's no doubt about it, especially the front seven. You add a veteran in the back like (Ravens S) Eric Weddle, he's a fantastic player, too. They held Buffalo to 50 plays or so. That's a short amount. That's a lot of three-and-outs and what not.

"We'll have our hands full. We know that, but all the faith in the world in the coaches."

The Browns are 0-1. The Ravens are 1-0. The Browns have beaten Baltimore only twice since the Ravens drafted quarterback Joe Flacco in 2008.

Being forced to go to the backup quarterback might not be the biggest issue for Coach Hue Jackson. Jackson could easily have declared McCown the starter when spring practice began, but the Browns are building for the future. McCown is 37 and Griffin is 26, so the hope was Griffin would become the same quarterback he was in 2012 when he was Offensive Rookie of the Year with the Redskins.


Jackson doesn't have such options at cornerback. Joe Haden, the starting left corner, was burned for a 35-yard touchdown pass from Eagles rookie quarterback Carson Wentz to wide receiver Nelson Agholor. Cornerback Tramon Williams was beaten on a 19-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Matthews.

Haden and Williams will continue to be major parts of the defense. Jamar Taylor is starting at right corner and Williams is the nickel back, but Flacco can find Williams wherever the 33-year-old defensive back lines up.

"We want to put a better product out there," Jackson said. "Our players want to play better, and my job is to help them play better. I'm disappointed in that, but I'm not discouraged by any stretch of the imagination. As a matter of fact, I'm more determined to get this fixed and to do better and have our players play better."

The Browns are 1-17 in openers, but they have had moderate success in the follow-up. They are 8-9 in the second game of the season.

--Head coach Hue Jackson of the Browns doesn't mince words. A bad snap by center Cam Erving sailed over the head of quarterback Robert Griffin III in the opener and rolled out of the back of the end zone for a safety in the game with the Eagles. Erving did the same thing in training camp and preseason.


"I don't know that you get too many chances to keep snapping over the quarterback's head, and I think he knows that," Jackson said. "It's unfortunate. It's something that can't happen in the game. It's embarrassing, and it's not right. But at the same time, I think for the negative that Cam did, he's doing some good things, too."

--The hero of the Browns' 24-18 victory over the Ravens three years ago was quarterback Jason Campbell. He threw two touchdown passes to Devon Bess and one to Gary Barnidge. The Browns scored in all four quarters and never trailed.

--Josh McCown is starting against the Ravens because Robert Griffin III is on injured reserve with a broken bone in his shoulder. Rookie Cody Kessler is McCown's backup.

"You've got to keep preparing as the starter," Kessler said. "You can never predict what's going to happen or what's going to happen in different games or different situations, but I've always told myself, whenever that time does come, whether it's this year, early, late, next year, whenever it may be, I just want to be prepared and be ready. If it's happened a lot faster than maybe what I thought or what was expected, then I want to continue to prepare."


Kessler is a third-round pick from USC. He was 19 of 28 in preseason for 92 yards with one touchdown pass and no interceptions.

NOTES: LT Joe Thomas (rest) did not practice Wednesday. ... CB Marcus Burley missed the opener vs. the Eagles with a groin injury. He returned to practice Wednesday. ... SS Derrick Kindred practiced Wednesday after leaving the game against the Eagles with an ankle injury. ... QB Robert Griffin III is on injured reserve after breaking a bone in his shoulder in the season opener. He was in the locker room Sunday with his left arm in a sling. He said he hopes to play this season. Griffin must miss at least eight weeks. ... DL Gabe Wright was promoted from the practice squad to fill the roster vacancy created when Griffin was placed on injured reserve.

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