Brock Osweiler named starter for preseason opener

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 14: Brock Osweiler
FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 14: Brock Osweiler /

Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson has spoken: Brock Osweiler will be the starting quarterback for Thursday’s preseason opener.

After a full offseason of minicamps, Organized Team Activities, eight training camp practices and one scrimmage, Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson has made his decision.

Brock Osweiler is the starting quarterback – at least for Thursday night’s preseason game against the New Orleans Saints.

Jackson ended the suspense with an announcement this morning on

"“At this stage in the evaluation process of our quarterbacks, we are going to have Brock start the preseason opener against the Saints on Thursday night. A lot goes into our evaluation but it’s always going to be about efficiently and effectively running the offense. You want your starter to be able to do that despite any circumstance. Brock hasn’t really gotten any first team reps and this will give him that chance. We look forward to seeing what he can do with this opportunity throughout the week and against the Saints.”"

Second-year quarterback Cody Kessler will serve as the second-string quarterback and rookie DeShone Kizer will be third string.

The move to start Osweiler will surely come as a disappointment to Kizer’s fans, who have already decided that Kizer should be named the unquestioned starter. But that disappointment may not linger very long as Jackson cautioned last week not to read too deeply into who opens Thursday’s game with the starters.

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Even knowing that, it should not come as a surprise that Osweiler is Jackson’s choice.

Osweiler, who is entering his sixth season in the NFL, has made 21 career starts and two years ago helped the Denver Broncos go 5-2 while filling in for Peyton Manning. Even during a rocky season in 2016 with the Houston Texans, Osweiler still played well enough for the Texans to win eight games and make the playoffs. He has thrown for 4,924 yards and 25 touchdowns over the past two seasons.

Compared to what the Browns have been receiving from their quarterbacks in recent years, those numbers look pretty good.

Osweiler is also not exactly going up against elite talent in the battle for the QB1 role. Despite talk of offseason work that improved his arm strength, Kessler is still a quarterback that is unable (or unwilling) to throw the ball deep and still holds onto the ball too long. As for Kizer, his physical tools are more advanced than Osweiler’s and Kessler’s, but it takes more than just a strong arm to play quarterback at the pro level.

But, as Jackson stated, just because Osweiler takes the first snaps on Thursday that doesn’t mean he is a lock to open the season as the starter. No matter how each quarterback looks on Thursday, the rotation may be shuffled for the Aug. 21 game against the New York Giants.

Don’t be surprised however, if Osweiler does open the regular season as the starter. If Jackson decides that Kizer simply isn’t far enough along to face the opening weeks of the season, which features games against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals, then he will likely turn the team over to Osweiler, who is simply better than Kessler.

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Which, even for the often bizarre nature of Cleveland’s quarterback situation, would be quite the turnaround for a player who was considered an afterthought when he arrived via trade from the Texans.