I have no insight into the Cleveland Browns‘ ever-changing quarterback situation. I know what everyone else knows – that the competition between Brock Osweiler, Cody Kessler and rookie DeShone Kizer has yet to yield a clear winner, and that coach Hue Jackson is on the verge of announcing a victor regardless.
With all of this said, I do have my guess as to who I think will get the job.
Gun to my head, I think Jackson is going to tab Osweiler as his Week 1 starter. From there, the former Houston Texan will get the bulk of the reps in this Saturday’s preseason dress rehearsal against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, giving the team a clear idea of how its first team offense will look, at least to start the year.
Unfortunately, my reasoning for why I think Osweiler wins the gig is hardly comforting. I don’t have him as my pick to start Week 1 because he’s looked the best of the three quarterbacks. Frankly, I think Osweiler is going to get tabbed as the starter despite the fact he hasn’t earned it.
However, this is the problem Jackson is facing. Despite the fact Osweiler has hardly looked like any sort of answer at quarterback, he’s still the safest pick for Cleveland to go with.
If anything, the only conclusion we’ve received from this latest Browns QB battle is having the candidates narrowed down from three to two. Despite being the incumbent, Kessler has endured a nightmarish camp. His arm strength is still a concern and he’s struggled mightily at moving the offense. He was dropped to third in the depth chart last night in the preseason bout against the New York Giants, all but removing his name from consideration to start the regular season opener.
When it comes down to picking between Osweiler and Kizer, it’s incredibly tempting to go with the rookie. Once again, the former Notre Dame standout proved to be the best looking quarterback on the roster, showing far more potential than his two competitors.
Meanwhile, Osweiler once again looked…fine. He certainly wasn’t great, as he failed to lead a touchdown drive for the second straight game. Osweiler struggled with accuracy for most of his time on field, unable to complete a pass for more than ten yards.
All in all, last night summed up most of Osweiler’s time in Cleveland so far. Every now and then he might look like a potential stopgap, but for the most part he’s living up to the reputation he developed in Houston. So far, any momentum he tends to build up hits a brick wall the second he nears the red zone.
Why, then, would I still put my money on him starting in Week 1? It all goes back to him being the safe pick.
For as good as Kizer has looked at times, he still shows a need for polish. He’s susceptible to rookie mistakes, as seen last night on an ugly interception tossed against the Giants. While the pick was nullified by a penalty, it’s still a throw he shouldn’t be making. He also had a tendency to hold onto the ball too long, taking unnecessary sacks.
Simply put, Kizer doesn’t look ready to start yet. While you could argue the only way to get him ready is trial by fire, I’m not in that camp. If Kizer shows any signs he isn’t prepared to play, you go with the next option.
In this case, it’s Osweiler.
Of course, there’s no denying how frustrating this scenario is for Cleveland. As soon as it appeared Kessler wasn’t an option, Osweiler was gifted the opportunity to win the job. Despite this, he’s yet to do anything which would convince anyone he’s earned it. The issues he’s dealing with – overthrows and inaccuracy – plagued him through all of last season in Houston. As a result, he’s done nothing but watch Kizer close the gap.
At the same time, starting him still seems like the wisest choice. Said choice obviously isn’t an easy one for Jackson. Such a quandary is summed up perfectly in the tweet below.
While I’ll happily admit if I’m wrong here, I’m willing to bet Osweiler wins the starting job. As it stands, it will be not because he ran away with it, but because Kizer just doesn’t look ready yet.
It’s hardly inspiring stuff.