Cleveland Browns 2016 season position review: Quarterback

Matt Rourke/AP Photo

Quarterback has been the continual question mark for the Cleveland Browns. The quarterback position has been a revolving door for the Browns since 1999. This past season continued the turn of quarterbacks in the starting position. The Browns had five quarterbacks take snaps under center this season, not including receiver Terrelle Pryor, who saw snaps in numerous situations. The Browns were forced to play Robert Griffin III, Josh McCown, Cody Kessler, Charlie Whitehurst and Kevin Hogan at the quarterback spot this season. Let’s take a look at the quarterback position in 2016 and going forward to 2017.

Quarterbacks on the roster: Robert Griffin III, Cody Kessler, Josh McCown and Kevin Hogan

Notable Stats

Cody Kessler: Completed 65.6% of his passes for 1,380 yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions.

Josh McCown: Completed 54.5% of his passes for 1,100 yards, six touchdowns and six interceptions.

Robert Griffin III: Completed 59.2% of his passes for 886 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions, while also rushing for 190 yards and two touchdowns.


The Browns still do not have a quarterback to lead their team into the future. Before the season, I had hopes for Robert Griffin III to be the franchise quarterback. That turned out to be false hope. Griffin once again could not stay healthy for the entire season, missing 11 games with a broken shoulder he suffered in the season opener. When he was on the field, he was just not good enough. He was highly inaccurate and showed poor field vision in limited action at quarterback. He did not do enough to show that he could return his rookie performance level and be the team’s future quarterback.

Beyond Griffin, we saw a cavalcade of signal callers. Josh McCown has a great arm and can make some impressive plays, but his decision-making and pocket presence are not good. He is also getting older at this point of his career. He is a suitable backup and veteran presence on the team. Cody Kessler was the best quarterback the Browns had this season and that is not to praise Kessler for a great season. Kessler was accurate and protected the ball well from turnover. But, his pocket presence, arm strength and downfield passing are just not starting quarterback quality at this point in his career. Kessler will be a valuable backup, but I am not sure he can be more than that. Kevin Hogan will most likely not be on the roster next season, after he showed this season he was a better runner than passer.

The Browns quarterback position remains the biggest hole on the roster. The Browns quarterback position was a huge factor in the derailing of the offense. The five quarterbacks that took snaps this season were unable to snatch the job and lead the offense in a positive way. So, the position will be job number one for the front office to address this offseason. Just like it is every offseason.



The strength of the quarterback position is the three backups the Browns have on their roster, Robert Griffin III, Josh McCown and Cody Kessler. None of these three are starting quality, but they do provide good backup options for the Browns whenever they acquire the starter. Both Griffin and McCown are veterans with ample amounts of starting experience. Kessler is a young player, who received a lot of starting experience in his first season. He has the room to develop and has the traits to be a really good backup option. The Browns are set in the backend of the quarterback depth chart, but the top of the chart is still empty.


Starting Quarterback

The Browns had five quarterbacks play this season and none of those five are the future starting quarterback. These five quarterbacks combined to complete just 59.7% of their passes, throwing for 3,652 yards, 15 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. That is not good enough for a starting quarterback. Whether it’s through the draft, free agency or trade, the Browns will need to address the starting quarterback spot and find their franchise signal caller.

To Do List

  1. Find a starting quarterback!

This is the No. 1 task and the only task for the quarterback position. The Browns front office has to find a starting quarterback and the quarterback to lead this offense for years to come. The front office has to look at every avenue (draft, free agency and trade) to find the answer. The franchise cannot continue to go into every offseason with this task. Through the draft, just some of the names that could fulfill this need are: Deshaun Watson, Mitch Trubisky, DeShone Kizer. In free agency, the Browns could target Kirk Cousins. And in trade, the Browns look to acquire Jimmy Garoppolo. There are many ways to find the quarterback, but the Browns need to choose the right one for the first time since 1999.

  • RGB


    Did I do that right?

  • Dustyn

    Not listed above but Tyrod Taylor is another name floated around. I’d love to see us keep Kessler, drop Bob and Josh, then bring in one of Taylor/Garoppolo/Cousins and use a third or fourth round pick on a QB prospect. Let’s focus on the talent in the draft as it comes.

  • Hopwin
  • Harv

    firz trade down twize than give thos to Bill

  • Harv

    Your easiest analysis of the year, Joe.

  • NankirPhelge

    I like the way he gets the ball out quickly on the three-step drop.

  • tigersbrowns2

    i think Kessler was easily the best of all the QB’s that took snaps this year … especially for a rookie QB with bad O-line & WR play … and unless they do acquire Cousins , “Grabapolo” or Taylor , Kessler will still be the best QB on the roster going into the draft.

    i’m wondering if they’ll still hang on to RGIII … i’ll bet they do.

  • mgbode

    Sure, sure. But, can he do that after the ball has water dumped on it?

  • RGB

    Receiver ran the wrong route.

  • mgbode

    still catchable – gotta dive for that ball. make an effort

  • Hopwin

    His overhand granny-style form is nice.

  • “Kessler is a young player, who received a lot of starting experience in his first season. He has the room to develop himself, create a stronger cohesion with his teammates surrounding him, and has the traits to be a really good STARTER.

    There. Much better.

    I’ve noticed a few times that quarterbacks could produce better results if you surround them with talented players. Thus in my option, the #1 priority is to continue upgrading the offense, let Kessler develop, and eliminate this nonsense that his ceiling is a backup in the NFL.

  • jpftribe

    A good receiver woulda had that.

  • tigersbrowns2

    hi LUNCH … most over here will disagree with you , but i think you’re right on. Kessler is very accurate , high completion % & does not turn the ball over … i would take my chances on a guy like that every time.

    fix the defense & the O-line & we might be surprised on how many games this kid will keep us in & hopefully start winning at a decent clip.

  • jpftribe

    He’s as good as any starter, maybe better, than the Texans have. With skill players and a defense he can Hoyer you into the playoffs.

  • Kenny_Reigns

    He’s not a starter caliber QB, but he’s good enough to keep in while rebuilding the team. A good QB would just get slaughtered back there anyway.

  • Hopwin

    For that first round exit…

  • Dave

    There is actually a #2 on the To-Do list, which may even be #1: Build an offensive line so our quarterback isn’t getting hit so much that we go through 5 of them in a season!

  • jpftribe

    Exactly. But I also thought Texans should have drafted Bortles so what do I know…..

  • Skulb
  • Skulb

    It would be very funny if the Browns brought in Kirk to start and kept Bob as the backup. He’d probably be pretty expensive though. Personally I think it would be a good idea to get Colt McCoy back cheaply instead. He’s been steady in relief with the Skins for several years.

  • theotherJimBrown

    The Browns are at least 2 years away from even getting a whiff of contending in the AFC North. No need to jump out of the tree for any QB less than an Andrew Luck in the draft. I don’t think taking as huge of a contractual risk as it will be for JimmyG is such a good idea right now. If JimmyG whiffs, it will set this franchise back another 4 years.
    I think Kessler showed enough to roll with him and an experienced veteran FA for a couple of years and it can’t be Bob Griffin or Max Headroom. Find that FA and take a solid 3rd round prospect (Brad Kaaya, Nate Peterman, Davis Webb) or even wait to see how far Chad Kelly falls and take a flyer on him with the hopes that Hue can get into his thick head.