Jeff Driskel ready to become 5th QB to become QB1 for playoff-bound Browns against Bengals

BEREA — Jeff Driskel's got a bit of history tied into the rivalry between the Browns and the Cincinnati Bengals.

Driskel's first touchdown pass came in his third career appearance, when he replaced an injured Andy Dalton in the third quarter of a Nov. 25, 2018, game against the Browns in Cincinnati. More than six years later, he still recalls the moment.

"Something happened I think to (Dalton's) hand," Driskel recalled Thursday. "I threw a touchdown on the seam to Tyler Boyd. He proceeded to throw my first touchdown ball in the stands."

Did Driskel ever get the ball back?

"No, I looked around," Driskel said. "I asked the ref, I was, like, ‘Where's the ball?’ And he’s, like, ‘I don't know.’"

Maybe Driskel can continue his search for the ball when the Browns (11-5) travel to Cincinnati to wrap up the regular season against the Bengals (8-8). That is, if he's not already too busy with what he's got to do while he's there, which is to be the starting quarterback for Cleveland.

If four starting quarterbacks weren't enough for the Browns, they'll join only the 1984 Chicago Bears to start five quarterbacks in a season in which they went to the playoffs. This time, it's because starter No. 4 — Joe Flacco — is being rested along with several other starters for the upcoming playoff game the following weekend.

Driskel was brought in last Friday after spending the season on the Arizona Cardinals' practice squad as the Browns' third quarterback on the active roster with Flacco and P.J. Walker. A little more than a week after signing with his new team, he's going to be its latest starter.

“I don't know about surprising," Driskel said. "I mean, it’s the NFL, things happen, I've been around long enough to understand don't try to figure it out. Just handle the moment, and that's what I've been doing the last five or six days and just happy to be here.”

Driskel passed through Cleveland in November, when he was elevated to be the Cardinals' backup quarterback in what turned into a 27-0 Browns win. That gave him an up-close look at what would become, a little more than two months later, his newest team.

At the time, though, the Browns were on QB3, although he was their original QB1: Deshaun Watson. That was Watson's second attempt at returning from a rotator cuff sprain that essentially torpedoed his October and left Dorian Thompson-Robinson and P.J. Walker to start games.

Watson went on injured reserve to end his season after the next game, a win over the Baltimore Ravens. That, in turn, led to the second series of events that has somehow resulted in Driskel going back to Cincinnati to start against the Bengals.

"It's been a unique year," offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt said. "Challenging, has been a lot of adversity, but the room has always been solid. We always feel like we're going to try to get whoever's playing in the best position to win for the team. … To get to where we are now has been rewarding. It's been challenging, but it's definitely a year that I'll not forget."

There's a reason why Driskel was who the Browns called to be their third quarterback on the roster. The connections run deep with him.

Driskel's quarterbacks coach when he made his NFL debut in 2018 in Cincinnati, which included nine appearances and five starts, was Van Pelt. His offensive coordinator while in was in Arizona was Drew Petzing, who spent the previous three season as a Browns assistant, including as the quarterbacks coach last season.

"I mean, as much as one offense to another, there's probably not a much smoother transition, terminology-wise," Driskel said. "Obviously somebody else calling it, new guys around you. The bigger thing has been getting to know my teammates more than getting to know the system, which I think is a good thing.”

Chris Easterling can be reached at Read more about the Browns at Follow him on Twitter at @ceasterlingABJ

This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Jeff Driskel ready to become 5th QB to be QB1 for playoff-bound Browns