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Pluto | Jackson handling QB situation well

By Terry Pluto • May 15, 2017 at 8:30 PM

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- I like how Hue Jackson is setting up the Cleveland Browns quarterbacks for training camp.

He's not simply handing the job to Cody Kessler.

But the Browns coach is giving Kessler the first chance to start, at least in the various minicamps and early practices.

When it comes to quarterbacks, you have to start somewhere ... and with someone.

Jackson has three basic choices:

1. Kessler started eight games, lost them all. He had a very respectable 92.3 quarterback rating, six TD passes compared to two interceptions. He completed 66 percent of his throws. His biggest problems were staying healthy (two concussions) and how defenses did not believe he could hurt them with long passes.

2. Brock Osweiler, who was 8-6 as a starter with Houston last season. His individual stats are painful --15 TDs compared to 16 interceptions, completing only 59 percent of his passes. He won games, but Houston lost complete confidence in him.

3. DeShone Kizer, the rookie from Notre Dame whose team had a 4-8 record last season. Kizer is physically gifted, but was very inconsistent last season.

There is another quarterback, Stanford's Kevin Hogan, but he's really not in the conversation when it comes to starting.

"Cody will start out, he deserves the opportunity," Jackson told the media Saturday.

Kessler was here last season. He was forced to play earlier than expected because of injuries to Robert Griffin III and Josh McCown. He played behind a battered offensive line.

He was a rookie on the youngest team in the league. It was a roster not set up to win in 2016.

Kessler had some decent games. He showed some poise. He now is in his second season with Jackson.

"Cody has done a great job," said Jackson. "It's why I brought up his name first. He has really improved, worked his tail off. He deserves the right to walk into this building and walk out there first. They have to take it from him ... he's not going to give it up."


It makes no sense to simply hand the job to Osweiler.

Houston dealt a 2018 second-rounder to the Browns as compensation for taking on Osweiler's $16 million salary for 2017.

Immediately, there were rumors the Browns were about to release Osweiler.

As time passes, they seem more inclined to at least look at Osweiler.

That just makes sense. He has a career 13-9 record as a starter with Denver and Houston. He's a durable 6-foot-7, 240-pounder. He has played in games and is the only quarterback on the roster to win an NFL game.

Even if he's a mediocre NFL quarterback, that's something in a league where Josh McCown just signed for $6 million with the New York Jets.

Let him play behind Kessler. Give him plenty of reps. That's my plan, not sure exactly what Jackson has in mind. He didn't name Osweiler as the No. 2 on Saturday.

Jackson does seem interested in Osweiler, but wants to see more of him.

Kessler did have those two concussions last season. He started eight games, but failed to complete three of those starts because of injuries.

The Browns need depth. Osweiler supplies that.


The 6-foot-4, 230-pounder has the size and arm strength to become a valuable NFL quarterback.

But he is so inexperienced when it comes to the NFL. He rarely took a snap under center. He never called plays in a huddle. He played in a simplistic, shotgun college system.

Had the Browns traded up into the first round and taken Kizer (instead of tight end David Njoku), expections would explode about Kizer soon playing.

The good thing about Kizer being the fourth player picked by the Browns is the lack of pressure to start him.

And the best way for Kizer to become an NFL quarterback is not to put him into a position to fail.

So the Browns will start with Kessler, at least in the practices -- and that just makes sense.


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