Really, Kizer Was The Only Choice

DeShone Kizer was named the Browns’ starting quarterback for the season opener against Pittsburgh by coach Hue Jackson, and it really wasn’t up for debate.

The rookie from Notre Dame hit just 6 of 18 passes for 93 yards and an interception, but he was hurt by some dropped passes and a fumble inside the Tampa Bay 20 yard line by Duke Johnson.

Otherwise, he would have put more points on the board and his statistics would’ve looked better.

When it comes down to it, Jackson didn’t have much of a choice.

Training camp started with Cody Kessler as the starter, but the second year man out of USC seems to refuse to do what the coaching staff wants, which is throw the ball downfield occasionally.

He has completed 66.7% of his 27 passes, but only for 145 yards.  His 5.4 yards isn’t what Jackson wants out of his QB.  Remember, Kessler was benched at halftime in a game the Browns were leading a year ago, because he checked down way too much.

Next, Osweiler had the starting job, but he didn’t put up any points in his time on the field, and if you think 5.4 yards per pass is poor, the former Bronco and Texan signal caller’s three yards per pass makes Kessler look like John Elway.

We truly believe that Jackson didn’t want to start his rookie second round pick in the opener, particularly because it is against the Steelers, but given the performance of the two guys he tried to give the gig to, he didn’t really have a choice.

Kizer is hitting just 51% of his throws, a low total in today’s NFL, but his average yards per pass attempt is 7.2, the best of the four passers on the roster.

One thing you have to remember is the team knows who is the quarterback best equipped to lead them, and if Jackson were to start someone else, he loses credibility in his own locker room.

Our hope is that Jackson doesn’t put the burden of the offense on Kizer.  If the Browns are going into games planning to throw the ball 35 times, we can sense a disaster.

Rather, do what the Seahawks did with Russell Wilson as a rookie, do what the Steelers did with Ben Roethlisberger as a first year player.  Ease the weight on their shoulders.

Run the ball, play defense, and make it as easy as possible for them to play the most difficult position in professional sports.

As for who backs up Kizer, that’s another quandary for Jackson.

We expect to see a lot of Kevin Hogan on Thursday night against Chicago, because amazingly, he has performed better than both Osweiler and Kessler in the preseason games.

We are sure the coaching staff would like to see him against some second team players instead of guys who will not make teams once the rosters have to be cut to 53 players.

We firmly believe Jackson’s intention was to bring DeShone Kizer along slowly, but the mediocre performance of the more experienced passers forced his hand.

Hopefully, Kizer joins the rookie quarterback success stories rather than the players who were thrown to the wolves early and got devoured.

JD

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It Might Be Kizer, Because He Seems To Want The Job

The Cleveland Browns have a quarterback dilemma.

This is nothing new, the team has been looking for a signal caller since they returned to the NFL for the 1999 season.

Tim Couch is the closest to being a guy fans could identify as the QB for the Browns, as he was the starter for five seasons (’99-’03), but he absorbed so much punishment in those years, that his career ended after the 2003 campaign at age 26.

This year’s problem is a little different though.  The Browns do not want to rush rookie second round pick DeShone Kizer, they would rather let him learn at the beginning of the year and get used to the professional game.

Unfortunately, the two veterans on the roster, Brock Osweiler and Cody Kessler, don’t seem to want the gig.  This may force coach Hue Jackson’s hand, and he may have to go with Kizer, who seems to be clearly playing the best.

Osweiler was the starter in each of the first two games, and he has completed 12 of 22 passes for just 67 yards, with an interception and hasn’t been sacked.  A bigger issue is the offense hasn’t scored with him at the helm.

FYI, an average of three yards an attempt is awful for an NFL quarterback.

Kessler played with the second unit in the first pre-season games, and the threes last night against the Giants.  He is 12 for 17 (70.6%) for 97 yards and did lead Cleveland into the end zone in the exhibition opener.  He is averaging 5.7 yards per pass attempt, and has been sacked once.

The rookie has had the most opportunity, playing the entire second half against the Saints, and about two and a half quarters last night.

He has completed 19 of 31 (61.3%) for 258 yards (8.3 yards per attempt), and a touchdown pass and a TD run.  He has also been sacked five times.

After last night’s game, we wonder what Kessler would look like if he played with the first team.  That’s how little we have thought of Osweiler’s performance, and also how little we want the Browns to throw a rookie out there in the season lidlifter against the Steelers.

Remember, Kessler started training camp as the starter, and didn’t play well in practices and the intersquad scrimmage at First Energy Stadium.  That’s why Jackson turned to Osweiler.

If the coaching staff wants to protect Kizer, then they should probably go back to Kessler.

However, if they go with Kizer, they need to approach games the same way the Seahawks did when Russell Wilson was a rookie, meaning try to win games with your defense and running game.

In our opinion, putting the burden of the attack on a rookie before he is ready is detrimental to his future.  We don’t want to see Kizer firing 35-40 passes in the opener or in any games at the beginning of the schedule.

And we would feel better if Jackson eliminated the read option from the Browns’ offense too.

Based on the first two pre-season games, it doesn’t seem like Jackson has any choice but to hand Kizer the keys to the engine.

It isn’t the ideal situation, but it probably gives the Browns the best chance to win games, which after a 1-15 season in 2016, they desperately need to do.

JD

 

 

Starting Osweiler The Least Risky Move

The big news of the week in Cleveland seems to be that Hue Jackson named Brock Osweiler to be the starting quarterback in the Browns’ first pre-season game Thursday night against the Saints.

First, it’s a pre-season game, and certainly Jackson can change his mind between now and September 10th when the Browns and Steelers get together.

Second, it seems that the coaching staff and front office are showing everyone they are pumping the brakes on DeShone Kizer.

We have been critical of Osweiler in the past, and have pointed out on a few occasions that Cody Kessler had more games with a passer rating of over 100 in his rookie season than Osweiler has had in his career.

However, it appears that Kessler hasn’t progressed as the coaching staff hoped, still dinking and dunking and reticent to throw the ball downfield.

And we have been consistent in saying the Browns need to resist the temptation to throw Kizer to the wolves before he is ready.

Cleveland has done that before with other young quarterbacks and it hasn’t worked.  Didn’t someone say those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it?

Complicating things for some fans as well as those in the media is that the Browns went 1-15 a year ago.  They have to start winning some football games, not for the fans, but to start building a winning atmosphere in the locker room.

It may be right now, that Osweiler gives the team the best chance to put up some “W’s”

After all, his supporters will point out the former Bronco and Texan has a 13-8 record as a starter.

We would counter that argument that the former Arizona State standout tooks snaps for two teams that have incredible defenses.

It is a fact that he is the only QB on the roster who has started and won an NFL game.

So, Osweiler will get a chance to resurrect his career starting Thursday night.  And why not, the coaching staff has to know what they have in Kessler and they don’t want to rush Kizer, so why not see if Osweiler can get the job done.

Remember, he was a throw in last spring in a trade for a second round draft pick. When the Browns announced the trade, the pick was mentioned first.

The point is, what does Jackson have to lose?  Osweiler played the best in Friday night’s scrimmage, and he has starting experience.

If he looks good throughout the preseason, he will claim the job against Pittsburgh in the season opener.

That doesn’t mean we would rule out Kizer, we just wouldn’t force him into the job.  If he is clearly the best QB in practice and the games, then he should start.

But he shouldn’t start because he might be the franchise quarterback in a few years, or because he’s big, has a strong arm, and is mobile.  Let him observe, get used to the speed of the game, and show something when he gets his opportunity.

Remember, he was a second round pick, so if the Browns would get the first pick in next year’s draft, they can still take Sam Darnold of USC or however the top college QB is after this upcoming season.

So, Jackson is taking the least risk is seeing what Osweiler can do.  It doesn’t mean he will open the year as the starter, but right now, it’s his job to lose.

JD

Shocking Trade A Positive For Browns Front Office

The front office of the Cleveland Browns continues to do business in an unorthodox way, which, of course, is why they can polarizing among both the national and local media.

They aren’t “football guys”, we know that, and the Browns went 1-15 last year, so it’s hard to put any trust in them, but we feel they are laying the groundwork for the future.

That should have been done in 1999 when Cleveland came back into the NFL, and it could have been done several times and several regimes since, but instead the franchise went for quick fixes, and have just two winning seasons and one playoff spot in 17 seasons.

The most surprising and talked about move was the trade with the Houston Texans, involving QB Brock Osweiler.

The first reaction was this is who the Browns want to move forward at the quarterback?  The guy benched by the Texans before his first season ended after inking a deal paying him $18 million?

Instead as more details came out, Sashi Brown and Paul DePodesta simply gave up some salary cap space, of which the Browns have plenty, to get a 2018 second round draft pick, which Houston had to throw in the deal for Cleveland to take Osweiler.

The old guard didn’t understand the move, Hall of Fame executive Bill Polian blasted the move hours after it happened.

A day later, when Terrelle Pryor signed with the Redskins, the Browns were hammered for giving away cap space instead of reaching an agreement with the wide receiver.

Now we hear fans wondering why the Browns just don’t give Osweiler a shot at the job in training camp.

First, Cleveland still has almost $70-80 million (depending on the source) in salary cap space, and let’s face it, there aren’t enough quality free agents remaining to spend that kind of money this off-season.

So, the money isn’t an issue.

And the Browns get to add to their cadre of high draft picks they have accumulated over the next two drafts.  Obviously, if you are afraid of success in drafting, then having more picks gives you a better chance to get good players.

As for Osweiler, his season last year was a nightmare, and although he get a lot of credit for winning with Denver in 2015, there are plenty of questions about him.

He’s made 22 career NFL starts and has two games with a passer rating of over 100.0.  Before you challenge us, we know that passer rating isn’t the end all in evaluating quarterbacks.

By contrast, Browns’ rookie QB, Cody Kessler, has three games with a rating higher than 100.0 last season.  If you complete a good percentage of throws and avoid interceptions, you will have a good rating.

Remember also that the Texans went to the playoffs last year, so obviously Bill O’Brien felt strongly that Tom Savage gave his team a better chance to win.

Meanwhile, here is a memo to all media people in Cleveland…We are pretty sure the Browns know they need a quarterback, and they will get one this off-season, whether it is drafting one early or getting one in a trade (Jimmy Garoppolo).

So, please stop with the idea the front office hasn’t done a good job because they haven’t addressing the “most important position in professional sports”!

Relax, they know it’s a problem.  They will take care of it.

Until then, can we get off the notion that Brown, DePodesta, and the analytical people don’t know what they are doing?

JD