Sunday, August 6, 2017

Quarterback roulette risky

It’s all about the choice and what he does once he makes it.

Browns coach Hue Jackson on Monday will name his starting quarterback for Thursday night’s opening game of the exhibition season at home against the New Orleans Saints.

Be careful, fans, in anointing that quarterback – whether it is DeShone Kizer or Brock Osweiler or Cody Kessler – as the starting quarterback in the regular-season opener at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Whoever is chosen Monday most likely will not play more than two series against the Saints unless, of course, those series are so awful, he will play a third.

It’s a tough situation for Jackson, who throughout his career is used to working with more than a modicum of talent at that position. He doesn’t have the luxury of working with, for example, Andy Dalton, his quarterback when he was offensive coordinator for a couple of seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals before he took over in Cleveland.

Think of it this way. You are the head coach trying to decide who your starting quarterback will be and the candidates are a journeyman, a rookie and a second-year quarterback who was winless in eight starts as a rookie.

That’s sort of like having to choose the best among the worst. Relatively speaking, of course.

It very well could come down to this: Whoever starts the second game of the exhibition season should wind up under center for the Steelers game.

The Browns do not have enough talent on offense in the skilled positions for Jackson to fool around with the most important position on that side of the ball. He needs to identify his starter by game two and stick with him.

He needs to give that quarterback as many reps as possible in order to get him ready for the regular season in a very short period of time. It makes no sense to have the position winner starving for reps when the real bullets fly.

Offense, as I have said so many times previously, is all about rhythm. Screw with that rhythm and you court trouble. And that is exactly what Jackson is doing by toying with his quarterbacks as if they are on a merry-go-round.

Whoever winds up as the starter needs as many snaps with his offense as he can get to feel comfortable and confident entering the season. It is almost imperative. No need to waste reps on someone you know won’t win the job.

Exhibition game one might be considered the tryout. Games two and three should be the dress rehearsal for whomever wins that tryout. Game four, when the ones on both sides of the ball traditionally rest to avoid injury, should be a learning experience for the two quarterbacks who won’t start.

If Jackson is still playing quarterback games by exhibition game three, you can just about take it to the bank the Cleveland offense, much as it did last season with Robert Griffin III and Josh McCown battling for the starting role, will struggle out of the gate again.

That poor excuse for an offense set the tone for the rest of what turned out to be a 1-15 season, scoring more than more 20 points just four times.

If it happens again this time, there will be no one to blame except the head coach/offensive coordinator.

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