No team in the league has been more snake bit at quarterback than the Cleveland Browns. That streak continued when both Cody Kessler and Charlie Whitehurst had to leave the team’s game against the Patriots on Sunday due to injury.
Through five weeks of the 2016 season, five different quarterbacks have taken snaps for the Browns. Four have suffered injuries of varying degrees. The fifth is starting wide receiver Terrelle Pryor.
The streak began in Week 1 when Robert Griffin III’s tenure as Cleveland’s starter lasted less than one game. He wound up on injured reserve after fracturing the coracoid bone in his left shoulder at the tail end of a scramble in a 29-10 loss to the Eagles. One week later, backup Josh McCown suffered a hairline fracture in his left shoulder in an eventual 25-20 defeat against the Ravens.
The loss of those veterans pushed the club to sign journeyman Whitehurst to back up rookie Kessler. Kessler started a pair of losses without incident before leaving Sunday’s game against the Patriots after a monumentally botched backwards pass.
Kessler’s injury ceded ground to Whitehurst, who played for nearly two full quarters before leaving the field with an apparent knee injury. It wasn’t a serious affliction, but it did give Pryor the latitude to throw a handful of passes at the tail end of a 33-13 rout. The former Raiders quarterback has now thrown five passes this season.
That was all the Browns needed to jettison Whitehurst from the roster. He was released on Tuesday while the team promoted Kevin Hogan from its practice squad.
Luckily for the Browns, Kessler’s injury likely won’t keep him out of their Week 6 contest against the Tennessee Titans. NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Monday that Kessler would be good to go in time for the Browns to try to pick up their first win on the season.
The Browns haven’t been a stronghold of stability when it comes to starting quarterbacks. Cleveland has cycled through a seemingly endless list of mediocre passers since its return to the Forest City. They’ve added four more (to pair with returning veteran McCown) this fall, but at least this time it can’t be entirely chalked up to mismanagement.
Instead, it’s just another famous case of fate turning against the Browns.