It’s been almost a day, and I still can’t get over a tweet the Cleveland Browns team account sent out Monday afternoon.
Now, I understand why the Browns tweeted this. Earlier in the day, it was announced quarterback Brock Osweiler would be starting in this Thursday’s preseason opener against the New Orleans Saints. As a result, why wouldn’t Cleveland try and hype him up?
At the same time, is this sizzle reel featuring the same Brock Osweiler we’ve heard about all year? The same one who flamed out so badly with the Houston Texans the team was trying to get rid of him despite guaranteeing him $37 million? The same one the Texans were so desperate to move they offered the Browns a 2018 second round pick just to take him off their hands? The same one who’s been working with the backups all camp?
Considering all of this, doesn’t the idea of tweeting a hype video for him feel a bit off? Suddenly a player the NFL was treating like a red-headed stepchild is now a diamond in the rough with the Browns?
To be honest, the timing in this perception shift isn’t all that off. This is the first time we’ve seen actual positive promotion for Osweiler from Cleveland because, quite frankly, I don’t think the team is thrilled about him being its best looking quarterback so far.
Though this sounds like a blatant slight against him, this isn’t the case.
In last weekend’s intra-squad scrimmage and yesterday in camp when he finally got a chance to work with the ones in camp, Osweiler has looked far more ready to start than his counterparts. While Cody Kessler has had a sloppy camp and rookie DeShone Kizer is showing some growing pains, Osweiler has been a steady presence. He’s displayed a far more convincing ability to move the offense than the other two QBs.
However, I’m still not convinced the Browns are excited about the idea of Osweiler being their starter. Personally, I see his taking the field first this Thursday less as a compliment to him and more as an indictment against Kessler and Kizer.
Again, no disrespect to Osweiler, but the writing has been on the wall for months when it comes to his place on the team.
He’s spent the majority of the offseason working with the backups while Kessler and Kizer have split time with the ones. From the moment Cleveland traded for Osweiler, the front office raved more about the draft pick which came with him. He’s constantly been portrayed as some sort of also-ran, only here because the Browns couldn’t flip him for another pick and decided not to cut him.
Make no mistake, if either Kessler or Kizer were having a slightly better camp, Osweiler wouldn’t be starting Thursday night.
Osweiler is by no means being considered as a potential franchise quarterback in Cleveland. The hope is either Kessler or Kizer will stand out this season, or the team will have to invest one of their early round 2018 picks on another rookie QB.
However, the team’s hand has been forced by under-performance from the other members of the quarterback depth chart.
Kessler has been a hot mess so far in training camp. He’s been unable to move the ball, and has thrown pick-sixes in each of the past couple practice sessions. An offseason attempt to bulk up and improve his limited arm-strength has so far proven all for naught.
Likewise, while Kizer has shown potential here and there, he’s simply not ready to be an NFL starter. Eye-opening throws have been intertwined with rookie blunders and miscues throughout his time in camp. Though the team would clearly prefer to give him the ball in Week 1, it also can’t risk stunting his development by throwing him onto the field too early.
As you can see, giving Osweiler the early nod in the preseason opener is actually the right call for the Browns to make. It’s just very clear it’s a call they’re not psyched about.
Osweiler isn’t the future in Cleveland. This is something the team has put a lot of work into making clear. Heck, up until yesterday morning, Osweiler was simply “the guy the Browns got with that second round pick.”
And now he’s been given the inside track on the QB competition. The Browns can attempt to spin it any way they want, but it sure feels like they’d much rather have Kessler or Kizer out there leading the starters.
Unfortunately for them, neither has done enough to prevent Osweiler from being tabbed the starting QB.