When Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson announced that Brock Osweiler would be the starting quarterback for the first preseason game Thursday night, it was a surprise to many. While it’s just the opening (of four) preseason games, it was thought to show what Jackson and his staff thought of the current status of the quarterback competition.
In his first time speaking to the media following the announcement, the head coach announced the current quarterback depth chart heading into the preseason opener, which is as follows:
- Brock Osweiler
- Cody Kessler
- DeShone Kizer
- Kevin Hogan
With Osweiler set to be the starting quarterback, Jackson hopes that he plays well in his first game leading the Browns, but admitted- even with the announcement- the competition is nowhere near over. “I think that is his personality, and if I know Brock well, that is what he will try to do,” he said. “Like you said, it is not over yet, but I would love to see him go play well on Thursday night and lead the team and run our offense to the best of his ability.”
Going into his second season leading the Browns, Jackson has already drafted two quarterbacks, one of which he hopes will eventually turn into a franchise quarterback. At the current time, Kizer seems to have the upper-hand in that battle to observers, but the head coach will let them both battle it out. Osweiler, the veteran in the group, is still in the mix and the initial starter.
But, although being named a starter is significant, Jackson seems to know what he is doing. He wants to give both Kizer and Kessler plenty of playing time. If either of them started, they wouldn’t play that much due to the fact that they would be pulled when the other veterans came out. Given that it’s the first preseason game, that will be after either the first or second series. With the veteran, Jackson can afford to pull him at that time, unlike the two young gunslingers. “I just felt like at this time, this was the best opportunity for us and the best thing for us for a couple reasons. For one, we have a veteran player who has played in games and knows how to win, and I need to give him an opportunity to demonstrate that. No. 2, we still have some young quarterbacks that need to play a lot of football. If I stuck one of those other guys out as a starter, they weren’t going to play a lot of football because they probably would come out when the other veterans come out,” Jackson stated. “When you sit down and think through it all, and you think what is best for our football team, it is best for me to trot Brock out there, see if he can go lead this offense and lead the team, and in the process, keep getting these young guys more reps of playing football. They just need to play. (QB) DeShone (Kizer) needs to play more. (QB) Cody (Kessler) needs to play more. (QB) Kevin (Hogan) needs to play more. I thought this was the way to do it.”
The Browns have seemed to be in search of a franchise quarterback ever since their return to the league in 1999. Osweiler and Kessler have already gotten a chance to prove the caliber of quarterback they can be in the NFL for at least one season. Kizer has not. He may be No. 3 on the depth chart, but Jackson will give him the same chance to prove himself that he will give the others (and possibly even more). The head coach is known to be very good with quarterbacks, he has a chance to prove just that heading into his second year at the helm.
The problem with neither Kessler or Kizer starting is that they won’t go against the the New Orleans Saints’ first-team defense. In Kizer’s situation, he could very likely face the opponent’s third-team defense, which seems to be a lose-lose situation for him. If he does well, people can say that it was because of the caliber of defense he went against; if he struggles, well, that won’t be received well despite playing with the Browns third unit.
It also makes it so that Kessler and Kizer won’t have their first-team offense they have been working with thus far in Training Camp. While splitting time with the first-teamers in training camp, the two will be forced to lead either the second- or third-team offense in the first of four preseason games while Osweiler, who hasn’t had as much time with the starting lineup, will lead the first-team offense.
With how all three quarterbacks in the mix for the starting job seemed to struggle in the Orange and Brown scrimmage last Friday night, he knows that he be able to see just how good (or bad) each player performs against another team, especially the quarterbacks. Either way, the head coach seems ready to get this thing moving. “I think we will find out a lot about our quarterbacks and our football team this Thursday night.”