QB Battles and streaming sports: While We’re Waiting


Happy Tuesday, WFNY!

How about that? The Cleveland Browns were on national TV last night when they beat the New York Giants 10-6 on Monday Night Football! The Browns are now 2-0 on the preseason and seem primed to shock all projections and be a force to be reckoned with this upcoming season.

Ok, ok, nobody actually believes any of that. It’s a well-established fact that preseason football is damn near the most meaningless thing in sports. But still, as I found myself flipping back and forth between the Browns and Indians on Monday night (more on that in a minute), I seemed to be spending more time on ESPN than SportsTime Ohio, even though the first-place Tribe were playing a riveting game against the first-place Boston Red Sox. But why?

Why did I seem to care more about how DeShone Kizer looked in a game that counted for nothing than how Mike Clevinger was faring in a game that could have postseason seeding implications? I don’t have a good answer for that. I do have a bad answer or two for it, and again, I’ll touch on that more in a second, but for the most part, I simply find myself forever enthralled with the perpetual Cleveland Browns QB battle.

I didn’t feel like we learned too much about the QB battle on Monday night. Brock Osweiler looked like Brock Osweiler1 and Kizer looked like a rookie QB trying to get more and more comfortable in the offense. I don’t know if either one did much to separate from the other, but after the game, coach Hue Jackson did say he saw enough to feel comfortable naming the starter this week.

I hope it’s Kizer. This is an about-face for me. I started the preseason off hoping Kizer wouldn’t win the job. For some dumb reason, I had this idea that him having to play in this offense without many weapons would be damaging long-term. I was worried that it would negatively impact his confidence and psyche. But as we’ve seen Kizer in two preseason games now, I’m not really worried about it anymore. Osweiler has no future as the QB of this franchise. Kizer could. So there’s no real reason to hold off on throwing him out there and seeing what he can do.

No matter who is named the starter, there’s going to be a lot of debate on whether or not Kizer is “ready”. I’m sure I’ve had to partake in that kind of discussion before. But now I find myself struggling with understanding what that even means anymore. When is a QB “ready”? What are the signs you look for? For me, all I want is a guy who knows the playbook, knows how to read a defense at the line of scrimmage, and knows how to lead the team and get his teammates energized and playing their hardest for him. Everything else comes with experience, and experience is something you only earn by playing, whether you’re “ready” or not.

DeShone Kizer looks ready to my uninformed, untrained, ignorant eyes. He made one pretty big mistake in Monday night’s game making a weak, floating throw that was intercepted. Thankfully, the Giants were called for a penalty on the play and the interception was taken away. But mistakes are going to happen. Making mistakes doesn’t mean you’re not ready, per se, although it could be a symptom of it. But mistakes are going to happen to everyone, especially rookie QBs. I care much more about how players bounce back from mistakes and Kizer’s mistake didn’t appear to rattle him. He seemed to shake it off fine and got back to business.

I wouldn’t say Kizer looked great, I wouldn’t say he clearly outplayed Osweiler or Cody Kessler. But he looked capable. He looked ready. And that’s really all I needed to see. I want Kizer to be the starter because I want to see how he handles the job, the team, and NFL defenses in meaningful NFL regular season games. The Browns are probably not going to win a lot of games this season no matter who the starter is. So I want it to be Kizer, then, to have a better idea on whether the Browns should still be looking at drafting a QB in next year’s draft.

The fact is, DeShone Kizer is the only QB on the roster with potential for a long-term future with the Cleveland Browns. I don’t need to see Brock Osweiler or Cody Kessler playing QB for this team. I want to see the one QB with some real potential to be the franchise QB.


Cord-cutting Update

I’ve talked in the past about my adventures in cord-cutting and specifically the challenges in doing so as a sports fan. It’s been over a year since I first took the plunge and got rid of my cable package and went internet-only in my house. I use Sling TV for live TV (along with an HD antenna for local networks) and Netflix and Hulu for watching shows and movies on-demand. I also currently have an HBO Now account active so I can watch Game of Thrones. I typically get rid of that account when Thrones isn’t in season, though.

It’s worked great for me for most things, but sports have always been a challenge. I’ve been able to work around the system by using friends and family’s passwords to stream games through the Fox Sports Go app, but it can oftentimes be more hassle than it’s worth. For sports fans, going without cable wasn’t ideal in that scenario.

Recently, however, this has changed. Hulu has announced a Live TV option. With their package, you can get things like NBCSN, FS1, all the ESPNs, etc as part of the base package, but they also include local sports channels. You can Big Ten Network, Fox Sports Ohio, and SportsTime Ohio. You also get all the standard entertainment and news channels, of course. But the sports packages being included in the base-level offering is where Hulu Live really shines.

You also can pause, rewind, and fast forward and it comes with a little bit of cloud DVR time (additional cloud DVR hours can be purchased separately as an add-on). Last night, I settled in and was able to watch the Indians play live right through my Xbox One on my living room TV. I can’t even begin to tell you how refreshing it is to bring some normalcy back to my sports watching habits thanks to this service.

Right now, Hulu Live is available on limited devices. You can watch via Xbox One, AppleTV, iOS app, Android apps, Chromecast, and Fire TV. Interestingly enough, you cannot currently watch live TV through the Hulu website in a web browser. They say they have plans for it to be available on the web, on Roku, and on Samsung Smart TVs and Blu-ray players “soon”.

As a sports fan, though, I have to say this feels like the big game-changer to me. I’ve always viewed cord-cutting as an experiment, and I wasn’t really sure if I would stick with it long-term. It always bothered me not being able to easily watch Indians and Cavs games. Flipping back and forth between the Browns and Indians was an experience I had been missing for a long time, and I’m ecstatic beyond words to have it back.

But there are still some issues with streaming. The biggest issues now are more on the UX side of things. User interfaces can still be clunky and that’s something both Sling and Hulu struggle with. Browsing through channels with an additional input device such as an Xbox controller, smartphone, or AppleTV remote is cumbersome at times. But the biggest thing I miss is the ability to flip back and forth with the “last channel” button that is standard on cable remotes.

When watching through the Xbox app, if I wanted to switch from the Browns to the Indians, I had to turn my controller back on, hit the B button to go back to the menu, flip to the Sports category, then click on the Indians game. Then to go back to the Browns, I had to repeat the process. It’s less than ideal and it played some role in me spending more time with the Browns game than I would have preferred.

These are just minor user experience quirks, though. Over time, I expect them all to get better at this kind of stuff. We’re still in the infant stage of this process and developers are figuring out what works and what doesn’t. But I can highly recommend Hulu’s Live TV service to anyone looking to get rid of their cable and I definitely recommend it to sports fans who want to eliminate their cable service. Obviously, this is location-centric, and if you live outside FSOhio’s coverage area, you won’t get it, but that’s no different than cable anyway. But overall, this is definitely a giant positive step in the right direction toward sports fans being able to eventually consume sports in the way we truly want to.

  1. How a ten-foot tall QB can have so many passes deflected at the line is beyond me []