Browns growing familiar with rookie first-round quarterbacks

(Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /

The Cleveland Browns will face a rookie first-round quarterback for the seventh consecutive season on Sunday in Deshaun Watson. How have they fared in recent years in the same situation?

The Cleveland Browns hit the road on Sunday to face the Houston Texans in a situation that should be familiar to Browns fans everywhere.

The Browns are 0-5 on the season for the second consecutive year. They will be starting Kevin Hogan at quarterback, the 28th different quarterback that will make a start for the team since 1999.

Those two facts are well known, even by the most casual of NFL fans. But it is the quarterback that the Browns will face that makes this such a unique Cleveland moment.

Related: If Browns want to win, why not draft a winner?

Rookie DeShaun Watson will be making his fifth consecutive start for the Texans, who selected Watson in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft.

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That puts the Browns in a familiar situation as this will be seventh consecutive season where the Browns will face a rookie first-round quarterback. Going back to the 2011 season, the Browns have taken on a team starting a first-round rookie six previous times, with mixed results:

  • In 2011, Cleveland beat the Jacksonville Jaguars and Blaine Gabbert 14-10. Gabbert finished the day 22-of-41 for 210 yards and a QB rating of 68.1.
  • In 2012, the Browns lost to Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts, 17-13. Luck was only 16-of-29 for 186 yards and took three sacks, but rushed for two touchdowns (because, of course he did) to take down the Browns.
  • In 2013, Brandon Weeden came to the rescue to lead the Browns past E.J. Manuel and the Buffalo Bills, 37-24. The Browns held Manuel to 11-of-20 passing and 120 yards, while sacking him three times and eventually knocking him out of the game.
  • In 2014, it was back to Jacksonville for a disappointing loss to Blake Bortles by a score of 24-6. Bortles was 17-of-31 for 159 yards and a touchdown, but the Browns picked him off three times and sacked him twice.
  • In 2015, the Browns worked over Marcus Mariota and the Tennessee Titans in a 28-14 win.  Mariota finished 21-of-37 for 257 yards and two touchdowns, but took seven sacks in what was one of the defense’s few bright days on the year.
  • In 2016, the Browns opened the season against Carson Wentz and the Philadelphia Eagles. Wentz finished 22-of-37 for 278 yards and two touchdowns as the Browns fell 29-10 in the season opener.

It may not be an NFL record, but facing a first-round quarterback in his rookie year seven consecutive seasons certainly seems like one of those “only in Cleveland” moments.

Watson faces a big challenge for a defense that may be the league’s fifth-best, at least according to head coach Hue Jackson, but is 25th in points allowed, which is kind of an important category.

The Texans have the league’s fourth highest-scoring offense as Watson has energized the offense since replacing Tom Savage as the starting quarterback in Week 2. Watson is second in touchdown passes (12), seventh in quarterback rating (100.7), and has led the offense to an average of 41.3 points in the Texans last three games.

Watson is a special player, as linebacker Christian Kirksey told

"“He’s a guy who can make a play out of nothing. He hurts you with his arm, and he is almost like a running back back there. I think he’s like third in carries or something like that on their team. He is definitely a dual threat. He can extend plays. He can extend the drives. That is definitely something that makes him somewhat special.”"

The Browns may be catching the Texans at a good time, however, as the defense is finally healthy. Defensive end Myles Garrett made his season debut last week against the New York Jets, and linebacker Jamie Collins is expected back in the lineup on Sunday after missing three games with a concussion.

Next: DPD Podcast: Preparing for Kevin Hogan to start

It all goes according to plan, the Browns will have their first-team on the field for the first time this season.

Given their recent history against first-round rookie quarterbacks, that is a very good thing.