Too much for the head coach
Sashi Brown and Hue Jackson have many decisions to make as the 2017 season looms for the Browns, but one sticks out above the others.
As they whittle the roster down to the final 53 men by Saturday at 4 p.m., they must decide which three men enter the quarterbacks room next week as the team prepares for the season opener at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
With the release Friday of Brock Osweiler, that room, barring unforeseen circumstances, definitely will be filled with three very, very young men who are, relatively speaking, professional football infants.
Brown and Jackson, especially Jackson, have to know that when you enter a season with three quarterbacks on your roster who own zero victories among them and your starter is a rookie, that is asking for all kinds of trouble.
They have to decide whether to weather the storm for the next 17 weeks and gamble DeShone Kizer, the rookie who will open at quarterback against the Steelers, is the real deal or come to their senses and bring in a veteran quarterback who can act as a mentor for the kiddie corps.
As it stands now, Cody Kessler and Kevin Hogan, a pair of National Football League sophomores who are, at best, mediocre talents, back up Kizer. If something should happen to Kizer, thoughts of what happened in 2016 quickly comes into focus.
History indicates Kizer will go down at some time during the season. Injuries have caused the Browns to utilize three starting quarterbacks for each of the last four seasons. Last season alone, five different quarterbacks took snaps due to injuries.
Brandon Weeden in 2012 was the last Cleveland quarterback to start more than 10 games in a season. He started all but one.
Imagine the Browns with either Kessler or Hogan at quarterback and Kizer looking on as a spectator. There is no way he can offer any advice. He hasn’t had nearly enough experience to help out even when healthy. He is literally learning on the job.
If Brown and Jackson stand pat, this would give the Browns arguably the worst set of quarterbacks in the NFL, although one could make the argument the awful New York Jets are just as bad with ex-Brown Josh McCown starting.
This is not to suggest the Browns should have kept Osweiler, who has booked five seasons in the NFL. At 26, he was not willing to mentor Kizer, choosing instead to hone his skills so he could win the starting job.
What the Browns need, and this is where Brown and Jackson have to use some common sense with regard to the direction they want to take the club this season, is bring in a veteran quarterback clearly on the downside of his career. Someone who can wisely – and selflessly – shepherd the Cleveland kids through the season.
Kizer needs direction. Jackson apparently believes he can provide that direction. That would be a miscalculation.
Jackson is the head coach. The decisions he makes affects the entire team, not just one side of the ball. He needs to be constantly thinking of time management, strategy, tactics and deciding what to do with regard to penalties on the opposing team.
Mentoring Kizer or Kessler or Hogan robs him of those important duties. By devoting his valuable time to that end, he shirks his responsibilities as the head coach.
What happens if he decides to impart some quarterback knowledge during a time of the game where a critical decision elsewhere must be made? A head coach is responsible for 53 men, not just the quarterback. He needs to separate himself.
That is why when they scan the waiver wires Saturday, Brown and Jackson need to at least think about looking for that veteran quarterback whose best days are clearly behind him, but who looks at the game from a cerebral standpoint and is more than willing to teach. Bring him in, place him on the active roster and use him only in an emergency.
If the Browns have any designs on making significant offensive progress this season, they have to provide Kizer with someone whose main job is to turn him into a respectable quarterback That someone should not be the head coach.