With the Cleveland Browns set to kickoff their first of four preseason games Thursday night, it will be the first chance for the team’s quarterbacks to prove themselves against another team. All three quarterbacks in the competition for the starting job come Week 1 — Brock Osweiler, Cody Kessler, and DeShone Kizer — will (finally) have a chance to go against another team’s defense rather than the ones they compete against every day in training camp.
Osweiler received the starting nod for the preseason opener, but most people think that Kizer still has a chance to start for the Browns as a rookie. ESPN’s Pat McManamon doesn’t think so. He believes that the regular season starting job is Osweiler’s to lose, and if the veteran does well during the preseason, especially Thursday night, he will easily secure the job.
What he has to do Thursday night is perform like he did in practice on Monday and Tuesday. Once he was announced as the starter against the Saints, there was a bounce in his step and a new vigor in his game. He completed passes — he completed passes! — downfield to several receivers, and while there were mistakes, he was a far better player this week than anyone had been to that point. It’s probably a 75 percent chance that Osweiler keeps the job. He loses it by laying an egg.
Of the three, Osweiler is the only quarterback who has actually gotten a chance to legitimately prove himself, having started 21 games during his first five seasons in the league; Kessler has started just eight games during is first season in the NFL in 2016 and Kizer is a rookie. Just ignore that Osweiler finished with numbers worse than any of the 2016 Browns quarterbacks despite playing in an offense that featured DeAndre Hopkins and Lamar Miller.
McManamon believes that the only way Osweiler isn’t the starter behind center come September 10 is if he struggles throughout the preseason and Kizer plays lights out; beginning Thursday night. Kessler appears to be out of the competition. After struggling in training camp, Kessler has seen his second-team reps reduced at the beginning of the week, while Osweiler has received the starting reps and Kizer has the majority of the second-team’s snaps. It is an extremely small sample size, but sources in attendance at the Browns’ Training Camp Wednesday afternoon have told WFNY that Osweiler was head and shoulders above both Kizer and Kessler — both literally and figuratively.
For those that are still in the Kizer’s camp, they can fall back on the Wednesday preseason game between the Houston Texans and Carolina Panthers. The Texans relegated Deshaun Watson to the second team as well forcing Tom Savage to go against the starting Panther defense. Once the backups came in, Watson was able to navigate his limited playbook with a bit more ease as Savage was harrassed during his two series.
When the Browns acquired Osweiler and his hefty contract, many believed that they were just going to eat his salary just to get the second-round pick from the Texans that came in the trade. Although Hue Jackson said that the starting quarterback competition is still ongoing, it seems as though the team thinks much more highly of the veteran than many believed, so maybe he is in the driver’s seat to start the regular season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers. McManamon thinks so.