The Cleveland Browns will take the field at FirstEnergy Stadium to face off against the New York Giants in the team’s second preseason game of the season. It will be an important game for many players and position battles on the team, but the Browns quarterback competition is the most important to watch. That’s because it is likely the last big audition for three quarterbacks- DeShone Kizer, Brock Osweiler and Cody Kessler- to make before Head Coach Hue Jackson chooses his regular season starter.
On Wednesday, Jackson said this in daily press conference, “I think the major game in the preseason is the third game. I think hopefully we will have it all nailed down about exactly where we are headed and where we are going. I think whoever trots out there [in the third preseason game] has a very good chance of trotting out there against the Steelers.” This means that whomever gets named the starting quarterback for the third preseason game will likely be the starting quarterback for the regular season. Monday’s game will be the last major chance for all the quarterbacks to put their best foot forward going into the week of the likely naming of the team’s starting quarterback.
Strolling out first on Monday will be Brock Osweiler. Osweiler is the most experienced of the three quarterbacks, playing in his sixth season in the NFL. But, in his NFL career, he has not shown the ability to be a consistent starter in the league. After being traded to Cleveland this offseason, there were little expectations for him on the Browns. As training camp began, Osweiler started to get more attention with it culminating when he was named the starter for the first preseason game. In that game, he completed just 6 of 14 passes for 42 yards. It was an uninspiring performance.
The upstart DeShone Kizer will be the second to go in on Monday. Kizer’s run to the starting job started like Osweiler’s. As a rookie, most people believed he would not play right away and develop from the bench. The combination of poor competition and solid play in preseason has pushed him in the running to the start season under center. His 11 of 18 for 184 yards and a touchdown performance versus the New Orleans Saints in the first preseason game was the biggest boost to his chances. But, he is still young with so much development and learning to do.
Finally, Cody Kessler will be the third quarterback to go in on Monday. His stock has gone down since the offseason. Before training camp, many believed that Kessler would be the starting quarterback for the regular season. But, his performance in training camp has been poor, including in the first preseason game. He completed 5 of 10 passes for 47 yards. He had the advantage of working Jackson’s offensive system and the notion of being at the top of the depth chart to start camp. He has not impressed or shown the performance level to take the job; causing him to sink to the third spot on the depth chart.
Who is the leader to win the quarterback competition? Only the coaches know for sure. It looks to be a two-man race now between Kizer and Osweiler. Kessler might have played himself out of the running with his meek performance. Kizer is the player with the rising stock. He moved up this week to the second man on the depth chart after playing well in training camp and the first preseason game. It does seem some within the franchise are not keen on starting the rookie right away though. Osweiler is the veteran with the most starting experience of the three quarterbacks. But, he is who he is. He does not have the talent of being a consistent starter in the NFL. His stock went up early on in training camp and has now sort of flattened. Starting Osweiler would seem to be more about saving a rookie than someone who earned the role.
Monday’s second preseason game will be a final audition for the quarterback’s to make their impression in the mind of Jackson. If one of the three outperforms the rest, that quarterback could be the starter for the regular season. Whoever says preseason doesn’t matter can look upon the Browns quarterback competition to see how that statement is false.