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What’s Next For Cleveland?


   Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson suffered a fracture in his throwing shoulder against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday that will require season-ending surgery, the team confirmed on Wednesday.

   As per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Watson will have the surgery in Los Angeles next week, with Kerlan-Jobe Institute’s Dr. Neal ElAttrache, one of the nation’s top doctors, performing it. An MRI performed on Monday confirmed that Watson sustained two injuries on different plays in the first half of Sunday’s 33-31 win in Baltimore.

   The seventh-year quarterback first suffered a high ankle sprain to his left leg in the first half that forced him out of the game late in the second quarter before returning in the second half to help lead the Browns to a 14-point comeback in the fourth quarter, albeit with the help of their no.1 defense.

   Watson was emotional when he spoke to the media on Wednesday and took a long time to compose himself when asked about the emotions of being out for the season. “I’m still in disbelief,” said Watson. “I’m still trying to process all the information that I’ve been getting since last night. It’s tough. I felt like we were turning a corner to really make a run and I still believe we still will.”

   A statement released by the Browns on Wednesday stated that Watson told the team medical staff after the game on Sunday that he felt some new discomfort in his right shoulder following a hit he received in the first half. Monday’s MRI revealed the 28-year-old suffered a displaced fracture to the glenoid, which would require immediate repair.

   The team consulted with the organization’s Head Physician, James Voos, MD, and industry-leading shoulder specialist, Neal ElAttrache, MD, who performed Aaron Rodgers’ Achilles surgery in September, and decided that Watson should undergo the season-ending injury. 

   According to multiple reports, Watson could have played the rest of the season with the fractured shoulder but doctors advised he take precaution as another hit to the same shoulder would have risked long-term structural damage. Watson was placed on season-ending injured reserve on Wednesday and Cleveland expects him to make a full recovery in time for the 2024 season.

   While this is disappointing news for Cleveland Browns fans, this won’t be the first time Watson has missed time this season. The Gainsville-born quarterback also sat out four games after suffering a rotator cuff injury against the Tennessee Titans in Week 2 and battled back to be healthy for their 27-0 shutout against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 9.

   The Browns are 5-1 in the games Watson has started. Watson posted a 61.4 completion rate percentage this season, registering 1,115 passing yards, 7 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. Watson’s last showing of the year was a memorable one, as he fought through a high ankle sprain and shoulder fracture in the second half of Sunday’s game against Baltimore, and completed all 14 of his pass attempts as he spearheaded a Browns’ fourth-quarter comeback.

   The Georgia native will end the 2023 campaign earning $42 million for just six games of work, or $7.67 million per contest. The former Clemson Tiger is now set to be paid $91.8 million for a total of 11 starts across his first two years in Cleveland. Watson is still owed a whopping $138 million over the next 3 seasons.

   Browns’ General Manager Andrew Berry, who was part of the management team that gave Watson a five-year, $230 million contract two years prior, said about the injury on Wednesday, “Deshaun sustained a new injury in the second quarter of the Baltimore game this past Sunday. A fracture in his throwing shoulder that’s going to require season-ending surgery. The good news is, we expect the surgery to go well and for him to be ready for the start of the 2024 season.”

   “One of the things that I think about, though, with last Sunday is, it is just an incredible testament to his physical and mental toughness. He was already playing with a high ankle sprain. And then one of the things that we’ve learned as we’ve talked to the docs over the past 48 hours is, in the infrequent event that this injury occurs with a thrower in their throwing shoulder, usually it restricts their mobility. There is so much pain that they can’t continue to throw.”

   “So for Deshaun to play, call it two and a half quarters, at a really high level against one of the best defenses in the league, with this injury plus the high ankle [sprain], it really is an incredible display of physical and mental toughness on his part.”

   The AFC North was vying to become the first division to send all its teams to the playoffs, with Deshaun Watson at the helm in Cleveland. The Browns will now try to achieve that goal with rookie quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson who is set to be the team’s starter going forward. Veteran quarterback PJ Walker will act as the backup.

   “Dorian’s going to start,” Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski told reporters on Wednesday. “I just felt like, as you know, every week you just try to make the best decisions you can for your team. I want to give him a week where he knows he’s the starter. He gets a full week of preparation.”

   The Browns have overcome the loss of All-Pro running back Nick Chubb and offensive tackle Jack Conklin to season-ending injuries to stay in the AFC playoff chase but will now have to cope without their starting quarterback. Cleveland faces the Pittsburgh Steelers at home on Sunday this week as Dorian Thompson-Robinson comes up against one of the best defenses in the NFL for a divisional showdown.

   Watson’s surprise season-ending shoulder injury is the fifth season-ender suffered by a quarterback this year following Jets’ Aaron Rodgers’ and Vikings’ Kirk Cousins’ Achilles tears, Giants’ Daniel Jones’ torn ACL, and Colts’ Anthony Richardson’s shoulder injury. 

-Maher Abucheri

Twitter: @pabloikonyero

Photo: Erik Drost. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

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What’s Next For Cleveland?


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