Monday, August 7, 2017

Merry-go-round stops at Osweiler . . . for now

In what amounted to a no-brainer decision Monday, Browns coach Hue Jackson named Brock Osweiler as his starting quarterback in the exhibition opener at home against New Orleans Thursday night.

It was a no-brainer because Osweiler, according to reports, has been the most consistent quarterback in training camp. This despite working sparingly with the first team.

“At this stage in the evaluation process of our quarterbacks, we are going to have Brock start the pre-season opener,” said Jackson. “A lot goes into our evaluation. But it’s always going to be about efficiency and effectively running the offense. You want your starter to be able to do that despite the circumstance.”

Jackson understandably wants to see how his most veteran quarterback in camp performs with the ones for at least a couple of series against the Saints. It will amount to a tryout, though.

That’s because I believe the coach, even if Osweiler plays well, will not give him a second crack at starting the second exhibition against the New York Giants, also at home, on Aug. 21.

The guess here is that Jackson is eager to see how DeShone Kizer, his prize rookie, performs in a real, albeit meaningless, football game from the beginning and will tap him for the start. It will have some meaning for Jackson regarding the immediate future.

He needs to know quickly exactly what he can expect from the kid so he can make definitive plans for at least the first few games of the regular season. Unless Jackson has seen enough that he has deemed him not yet ready for prime time, Kizer will get his shot with the ones against the Giants.

Based on the quarterback order for the Saints game, Kizer most likely will start the second half when most of the second- and third-stringers and camp fodder are on the field. Nothing can be gleaned there.

Osweiler starting the exhibition opener also does not mean he will be under center for the regular-season opener against Pittsburgh on Sept. 10. At least not yet, especially if Jackson continues to divide reps among his quarterbacks.

Unless he has already made up his mind who that quarterback is and has decided to keep it to himself, look for the coach to keep the quarterback carousel revolving right up until the Steelers game with Osweiler and Kizer the main riders.

Jackson needs to be decisive now, if only because it is unfair to the rest of the offense, especially the grunts up front. They need to know what voice they hear in the huddle on Sept. 10. Lingering indecision about the quarterback will be hurtful to the offense.

At the risk of sounding repetitious, that’s a recipe for disaster.
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Anquan Boldin, the veteran free-agent wide receiver the Browns should have signed, has signed with the Buffalo Bills.

The 36-year-old Boldin, who has booked 1,076 receptions for more than 13,750 yards and 82 touchdowns in 14 seasons, is the kind of wideout who can make any quarterback look good. The Browns never went after him, although they could have used his wisdom in the wide receivers room.

That room in Berea is filled mostly with youngsters who either will never be successful in making the transition to the National Football League or those who are just good enough to hang on. None of them qualify as legitimate playmakers.

Boldin, of course, is well on the downside of his career. But everywhere he has played (this is his fifth stop), he has been a leader and a difference maker. And it will be no different in Buffalo, where he will help turn Tyrod Taylor into something more than an average quarterback.

The Browns’ brass totally whiffed on this one.

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