Former UCLA QB, Dorian Thompson-Robinson, Disappoints In First NFL Start

Cleveland Browns’ newest quarterback, Dorian Thompson-Robinson, had a lot to prove in his first NFL start, but he disappointed. Following a stellar preseason performance, the 2023 fifth-round pick out of UCLA failed to find his rhythm against the Baltimore Ravens, leading to a discouraging 28-3 defeat for the Browns.

By The Numbers

Thompson-Robinson’s regular-season debut was far from ideal. Completing only 19 out of 36 passes for a mere 121 yards, he had three interceptions, achieving a disappointing 52.8% completion rate. With a Quarterback Rating (QBR) of just 25.9, it’s evident that he’s got a lot of work to do.

He made his debut following Deshaun Watson‘s voluntary sitting out due to injury. Hopes were high, as Thompson-Robinson had been a standout during the preseason, with a Pro Football Focus (PFF) grade of 90.2, 231 total yards, 2 touchdowns, and a 134.9 passer rating.

But when pitted against the Ravens’ defense, he looked out of rhythm. The Browns’ offense, also missing the firepower of star running back Nick Chubb due to a season-ending knee injury, was held to just 166 yards.

Ravens’ Defense: A Rookie QB’s Worst Nightmare

Out of all the teams that DTR could have made his first start against, the Baltimore Ravens were one of the toughest. Since John Harbaugh took over as head coach in 2008, the Ravens have gone 22-7 versus rookie quarterbacks.

Stefanski certainly didn’t do him any favors either, Browns RBs only had 19 carries to DTR’s 36 passing attempts. The game script certainly wasn’t in their favor, but you shouldn’t put the game in the hands of your rookie QB. The Ravens as a team have the 3rd best defense in yards allowed, the 4th best in points allowed, and are top 5 in blitz rate, one of the NFL’s top units this season.

Coming out of college DTR wasn’t the most pro-ready player either, he was great in his final year at UCLA, but there were some aspects of his game that needed some polishing, hence being a 5th rounder. Out of all of his weaknesses as a prospect, turnovers were certainly one of them. He has a tendency to try and fit throws into tight windows and his arm talent allows that to work sometimes, but usually, it doesn’t end up going his way. In his first interception, you could see that was the case even though it was tipped, his second was a careless toss directly to the defense.

DTR’s Take

If there’s one thing to admire about DTR, it’s his accountability. “This organization, this team… has put their faith into me,” stated Thompson-Robinson post-game. “Today is not what the picture of a No. 2 quarterback should look like.”

This level of accountability isn’t new for those who’ve followed his journey closely. At UCLA, Thompson-Robinson was known not just for his skills on the field but also for his stand-up character off it.

Even during the challenging times at UCLA, when games didn’t go as planned, Thompson-Robinson consistently stepped forward, refraining from passing the blame onto coaches or teammates. It’s this very character trait that made him a leader for the Bruins and will likely serve him well in his NFL career. Such accountability speaks volumes, especially in a league where the pressures are immense, and the critiques are relentless.

Looking Ahead

With the Browns going on bye in Week 5, the hope is that the extra time will allow Watson’s shoulder to heal, making him fit to face the 49ers in Week 6. Until then, Thompson-Robinson will need to learn from this experience, and the Browns’ coaching staff will have to make decisions on how best to utilize their young QB moving forward.

Browns’ coach Kevin Stefanski summed it up, stating that Watson “wanted to go badly” but ultimately wasn’t ready. As for Thompson-Robinson’s performance, it’s a tough lesson for the rookie, but one he’ll have to grow from if he hopes to find success in the demanding world of the NFL.