The Cleveland Browns may have an issue with their backup quarterback situation, as Garrett Gilbert outplayed Drew Stanton during the preseason opener.
The Cleveland Browns may not be looking for their starting quarterback during training camp, but they may have a dilemma with their backup quarterback situation. Drew Stanton was expected to be the backup with Garrett Gilbert likely being the No. 3 quarterback.
But when the Browns took the field for their preseason opener Thursday night, Stanton’s performance was not comforting. In fact, it was slightly concerning.
Stanton played two drives, completing only three of his eight pass attempts for 63 yards, finishing the game with a 66.1 quarterback rating. He made multiple errant throws and was almost intercepted twice in the redzone.
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On the other hand, Gilbert played the majority of the game after Stanton’s two drives, and Gilbert played well. He completed 14 of 22 pass attempts for 135 yards, finishing the game with a quarterback rating of 80.7.
Although Gilbert did not take the game by storm, he was showing much better accuracy than Stanton. He delivered some throws in tight windows and he was not afraid to push the ball downfield.
But what was most important about Gilbert’s performance was he showed an ability to be a game manager. Although he was not afraid to make throws into tight windows, he did not take too many risky chances. He was trying to make plays, but only if it was the right decision.
Because he outperformed Stanton, a case can be made that there should be a competition to determine who the backup quarterback will be. Freddie Kitchens and the Browns coaching staff said during the offseason they were comfortable with Stanton being the backup, but Stanton left much to be desired with his performance Thursday night.
Stanton has been a backup for the majority of his career, but his stats have never made him stand out as one of the better backup quarterbacks in the NFL. The 35-year-old only has a 52.4 career completion percentage and a 20:24 touchdown to interception ratio.
The best case to be made for Stanton being the backup quarterback is his experience. In case Baker Mayfield deals with injuries during the 2019 season, the Browns know Stanton has the experience to feel comfortable in the situation of replacing the starter. The biggest question will be if he can make plays when needed if he is in the game.
Although Gilbert was in the NFL for several seasons, he has only played in one regular season game. He has nowhere near the same experience as Stanton, so there would be a lot of concern if Gilbert was forced into a close game or a must-win situation.
So even with his performance on Thursday night, it is hard to imagine Gilbert overtaking Stanton as the Browns No. 2 quarterback. Unless Gilbert plays light out during the rest of training camp and preseason while Stanton puts together consistent below average performances, Gilbert will be the team’s No. 3 quarterback when the Browns open the regular season.