Although historically one of the most storied rivalries in the NFL, the Bengals-Browns rivalry hasn’t felt particularly intense in recent years. In addition to the Browns’ general futility over the last few years, the Bengals have not only won, but have absolutely dominated the last four games and five of the last six.
In those six games since Week 11 of 2013, the Browns have fielded five different quarterbacks. The Bengals demolished Jason Campbell in Week 11 of 2013 by a score of 41-20, dropped a rough 24-3 affair to Brian Hoyer, won the next two against Johnny Manziel by a combined score of 61-10, destroyed Austin Davis by a score of 37-3, and most recently took down Cody Kessler and Kevin Hogan 31-17 earlier this year.
The Browns’ quarterback situation is a big reason why the Bengals have outscored their in-state rival 153-33 in those five games. Although, the Browns’ defense has given up so many points, that can’t be ignored either. It almost seems cruel at this point for fans in Cleveland. They once had one of the most successful football franchises in professional football prior to the Super Bowl era (eight championships). But, they fired the man who arguably was responsible for those championships, Paul Brown, in 1962.
They did manage to win a championship in 1964 with a team that was essentially built by him, but they haven’t appeared in a championship game since. Furthermore, they lost their team completely when the original Browns moved to Baltimore to become the Ravens in 1996. Cleveland got their team back in 1999, but they have been so bad, it can’t feel much better than not having a team at all.
Although there have been a couple of good years here and there, the Browns have generally been a mess since returning to the NFL. They have posted an abysmal record of 83-185 during that time. Perhaps the best exemplification of this poor run is the sheer number of quarterbacks they have fielded since returning to the league. Only three of those quarterbacks have winning records against the rival Bengals. Here are the quarterbacks who have started for the Browns against the Bengals during the Marvin Lewis era.
- Tim Couch (1-1)
- Jeff Garcia (1-0)
- Kelly Holcomb (0-1)
- Trent Dilfer (0-1)
- Charlie Frye (0-3)
- Derek Anderson (2-2)
- Ken Dorsey (0-1)
- Brady Quinn (0-1)
- Seneca Wallace (1-0)
- Colt McCoy (0-3)
- Brandon Weeden (1-1)
- Brian Hoyer (2-0)
- Jason Campbell (0-1)
- Johnny Manziel (0-2)
- Austin Davis (0-1)
- Cody Kessler (0-1)
Not included in this list are Ty Detmer, Doug Pederson, Spergon Wynn, Luke McCown, Ken Dorsey, Bruce Gradkowski, Jake Delhomme, Thad Lewis, Connor Shaw, Josh McCown, and Robert Griffin III. All 10 of those players have suited up at starting quarterback for the Browns since 1999 in addition to the 15 on this list, bringing the total up to 25. But, those 10 quarterbacks never have had a chance to start against the Bengals in a Browns uniform, for one reason or another.
Interestingly enough, it’s likely Griffin III starts against the Bengals this week. The Browns signed him in the offseason as yet another desperate attempt to solidify their quarterback position, although he has been dealing with a shoulder injury since Week 1. He had been on Injured Reserve until last week, but received the designation to return and has been cleared to play.
If Griffin does not start, Josh McCown probably will. McCown was the Browns’ primary starter in 2015 and has been their leading passer this year. But, he has never started against the Bengals for the Browns. He has played against and lost to the Bengals as the Buccaneers’ starter in 2014.
Another quarterback on the Browns’ roster, Cody Kessler, briefly started against the Bengals back in Week 7, but only got 11 passes in before he was hurt and replaced with Kevin Hogan. It’s unclear if he’ll get a chance at revenge this week, but, it’s unlikely.
All of that considered, barring some sort of miracle for Hogan or Kessler, the Bengals will be seeing yet another new face at quarterback in a Browns uniform this week. With the Browns currently sitting at 0-12 and the Bengals coming off a huge win over the Eagles last week, it was already hard to see the Browns pulling together to win in this contest, without a new quarterback being added to the mix. Given the fact that they will essentially be starting over at quarterback once again, the chances of the Browns breaking the Bengals’ win streak seem even more slim.