The Cleveland Browns have four months to figure out who the starting quarterback will be. As they start the process, here are three takeaways from OTAs.
The Cleveland Browns will open training camp this summer with a quarterback competition that may not be the most scintillating, but it does promise to be an authentic competition.
The coaching staff will spend the summer deciding who will line up for the season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers from among Cody Kessler, the current QB1, the much-maligned Brock Osweiler and rookie DeShone Kizer.
Things will get real soon enough, but for now head coach Hue Jackson said everyone is having a good time, according to clevelandbrowns.com:
"“They are all growing and learning, and our defense is throwing a lot at them. That is fun. That is the good part. Things will start to slow down for them all and start to really understand the system and start to move forward.”"
The Browns closed out the final day of their first Organized Team Activities on Thursday, and here are three takeaways on each of the quarterbacks. (We would have a takeaway for Kevin Hogan, but everyone seems to have forgotten he is on the team.)
Cody Kessler put in the work during the offseason
Kessler had trouble with the deep ball during his rookie season in 2016, either being unable or unwilling to test opposing defenses deep down the field. That lead to him being benched during a game against the Baltimore Ravens.
But Kessler said he hit the weight room over the past few months and is now ready to let it rip, according to the team’s website:
"“ A lot of it was just countless hours in the weight room. I think the biggest thing, too, was mechanics-wise – being able to not get so far forward and be able to get that power from your legs. A lot of my throws last year were completely upper body, and I was throwing a ton of upper body and not being able to get my legs into my throw and being able to stay back on your weight and push off your back plant foot is something that is huge, and that was something that I noticed a lot. As well, it comes with being in the weight room and strength and working on different things here and there.”"
Kessler has his limitations and may not be as good as his supporters make him out to be, but unlike other young quarterbacks the Browns have had on the roster in recent years he is taking the situation seriously and appears to be working hard to improve his game.
That may not mean much in the end, but it is refreshing and he deserves credit for it.
Brock Osweiler is in it to win it
Osweiler may have been seen by the Browns as a disposable throw in to the trade that brought them a second-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Related: Brock Osweiler: I have grown as a QB
But now that it looks as if he may be sticking around for a while, Osweiler is planning on doing what he can to take the top spot away from Kessler, according to ohio.com:
"“My expectation is always to start, but that’s not my decision to make. Now, if I came out here and told you guys I wanted to be the backup, I’m in the wrong business. Absolutely, I want to play, and I want to help this football team win games. But I know there is a lot of work that goes into that and ultimately I need to earn that on the practice field, and I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me to do that.”"
Osweiler’s reputation took a major hit during his one year with the Texans, but that should be weighed against his time as a starter with the Denver Broncos in 2015. That season he was 5-2 as the starter, completing almost 62 percent of his passes while throwing for 1,967 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Houston may have been a bad fit for Houston, or he may just be a below-average quarterback, but the bar he has to clear to take on the starting role with the Browns is not a very high one.
DeShone Kizer has Hue Jackson’s attention
The Browns selected Kizer in the second round of the draft and have said all the right things about not rushing him onto the field until he is ready.
We’ve all heard that story before and now how it ends – with disappointment and a broken bodies everywhere.
Given how things go with the Browns, the team is going to need Kizer at some point this fall, either by choice or by circumstance, so Jackson is giving Kizer special attention during workouts, which is cool with Kizer, according to the team’s website:
"“Coach Jackson, during the 30 visit and the pre-draft process, that is exactly how he goes about his quarterbacks and he has held up to it and he has gone even further. With that, it allows me to start my learning curve a little faster. When you have the guy who is calling the plays, the guy who has created this offense and he knows the language inside and out, teaching your everyday fundamentals, it definitely pushes you a little quicker than if it was someone else who has to then go through him. I’m at the top of the command in terms of the guys who are coaching me so it is going to allow me to get out there and compete little faster than otherwise.”"
The Browns are currently working under the scenario where the starter’s job is Kessler’s to lose, which makes sense. Of the three quarterbacks he is on the only one who has experience in Jackson’s offense, so he naturally should be ahead of everyone else in the room.
But being the Browns there is a high likelihood that all three quarterbacks – and maybe even Hogan – will be called upon sometime during the upcoming season. The situation may still be a bit unsettled at the moment, but it is far better than where the team was a year ago at this time.