Sunday, December 6, will mark yet another quarterback change for the Cleveland Browns. As the Browns prepare to take on the Cincinnati Bengals, Austin Davis prepares to take over as the starting QB. Davis will be the 24th starter for the Brownies since they came back to Cleveland in 1999. Most of us know who Josh McCown is by now, certainly we all know who Johnny Manziel is, but what about Cleveland’s third stringer who was signed to a contract extension at the beginning of the season?
Out of high school, Davis attended Southern Mississippi on a baseball scholarship. He also played for the football team and was redshirted as a freshman. As a redshirt freshman, Davis became the starting quarterback for Southern Miss. He would go on to start all four years for the Golden Eagles and break almost all of the school’s passing records, which were set by none other than Brett Favre. Could Davis be the next Brett Favre?
But Davis has shown some potential in the National Football League. Davis was signed as an undrafted rookie in 2012 by the St. Louis Rams. His first stint with the Rams was short, being cut before the season started. Shortly after, he was signed by the Miami Dolphins to their practice squad. In October of 2013, Davis was re-signed by the St. Louis Rams after Sam Bradford went down with an injury. It wasn’t until 2014 that Davis would get his shot with the Rams.
Entering the 2014 season with the Rams, Davis was supposed to be the third string QB behind Sam Bradford and Shaun Hill. Bradford quickly suffered a season ending ACL injury in the preseason, bumping Davis into the backup role. Shaun Hill’s stay at QB was short-lived just like Bradford’s, as he suffered a thigh injury in week 1 of the regular season. Austin Davis replaced Hill and showed great promise completing 16 of 23 passes for 192 yards. He would get his first career NFL start the following week in a victory against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Davis’ best game came in week 7 of the 2014 season when the Rams defeated the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks, 28-26. In the victory, Davis threw for 155 yards and two touchdowns and completed 85% of his passes. Unfortunately for Davis, his season would quickly go downhill. In a week 10 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, Davis threw for two interceptions and coughed up a fumble. After the game, Davis was benched for the remainder of the season. He finished the seasons with a 63.4 completion percentage, 2,001 yards passing, and 12 touchdowns to nine interceptions.
Davis was signed by the Browns on September 7. He was originally listed as the number three quarterback for Cleveland, but an injury to Josh McCown and off the field issues for Johnny Manziel have led to Davis being named the starter for the week 13 game against the Cincinnati Bengals. In week 12, Davis came in for McCown after the starting QB injured his collarbone. Davis impressed, going 7-10 with a touchdown and 77 yards passing.
So what are we left to think of the 26 year old quarterback from Southern Miss? We have seen the good, both last season and this season, but we have also seen the bad. As Browns fans, we can only hope that the good will overtake the bad and we will finally have our quarterback of the future.
Realistically speaking, I wouldn’t get your hopes up. Davis has shown little in his 11 games played that would indicate that he has the potential to be an elite quarterback. But we are Cleveland fans, are we ever realistic?