Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Hogan’s heroes?

For what it’s worth, Hue Jackson made the correct decision Wednesday when he benched DeShone Kizer and made Kevin Hogan the next brand spanking new starting quarterback for the Browns.

If you’re keeping count – and there is every reason to believe most National Football League pundits are – Hogan becomes the 28th new starter at what has become a revolving position in Cleveland since 1999.

Breaking that down even further, that is roughly 1.5 different starting quarterbacks a season, which has to be some sort of record when it comes to futility at the most important position of a football team.

Hogan, who makes his starting debut Sunday in Houston, becomes the newest member of a club started by Ty Detmer way back in ’99. If you are into trivia, Detmer is the correct answer to what could some day, if it isn’t already, be a great question in Browns lore.

For all these years, this franchise has been wandering in the quarterback desert searching for the one man who could figuratively pick this team by the bootstraps and lift it into the realm of contender.

The road to NFL contention in Cleveland is littered with the likes of Tim Couch, Kelly Holcomb, Charlie Frye, Derek Anderson, Brady Quinn, Colt McCoy, Brandon Weeden, Johnny Manziel, Cody Kessler and Kizer.

All the while, all Browns Nation wanted was someone to glom on to in an effort to bring back the good, old days when their team was something other than the kicking can it has become.

One front office disaster followed by another followed by another has rendered this franchise helpless and hopeless. And yet, as it should, the search for that savior plods on with Hogan next up on the pedestal.

There’s a saying in the NFL that the most popular player on a team from the fans’ standpoint is the backup quarterback. Unless, of course, the starting quarterback is good enough to pin him to the sidelines. That hasn’t been the case with this team since 1999.

And now it’s Hogan’s turn as Kizer resumes his brief pro career observing from the sidelines in a learning role. He has played just badly enough to warrant his new viewing location.

Hogan, fourth on the depth chart at the beginning of training camp a few short months ago behind Brock Osweiler, Kizer and Kessler, played it perfectly as the season slowly unwound.

Osweiler played himself out of town and back to Denver with a poor exhibition performance. Kessler, Jackson’s “trust me” quarterback, was anything but trustworthy. Kizer sort of won the starting job by default. Hogan, the quiet and loyal soldier, became his backup.

Kizer proceeded to play the game so poorly after a decent start in the season opener against Pittsburgh, Jackson really had no recourse than to make the change. But it wasn’t just because Hogan was his only choice.

By playing well in Kizer’s absence, whether it was because of a migraine or just awful quarterbacking, Hogan made Jackson’s choice to make the switch seem logical. He unquestionably deserved the chance.

“He understands the system,” Jackson pointed out Sunday after the loss to the New York Jets, during which he benched Kizer for Hogan at halftime. ”The ball comes out (quicker).”

Of course Hogan understands the system. The Stanford product is no dummy. He is a quick study. What has held him back was the ability to properly execute Jackson’s stretch-the-field philosophy because his throwing arm was below Jackson’s standards.

All Hogan did in his three brief appearances this season was pilot a smooth, efficient offense that did not operate in fits and starts. But since Kizer was the anointed one by his coach, all he could do was watch.

Here is all you need to know about Hogan’s 10 possessions. Britton Colquitt was called on to punt just twice.

The Cleveland offense generated 449 total yards in those 10 possessions with drives of 83, 62, 63, 75, 72 and 86 yards, all of which put 31 points on the board. It was only a matter of time before Jackson had no choice but to make this move.

“I’m very confident,” Hogan told reporters after the Jets game last Sunday. “If you do your job in preparation leading up to the game, then you don’t let things surprise you.” Like being told at halftime of that game he was starting the second half.

How long Hogan keeps the job depends, of course, on how well he performs. Kizer still lurks in the background in the event he falters. The difference now is opposing defense coordinators will game plan for him. He will not be a surprise to them now that Jackson has handed him the job.

Barring unforeseen circumstances, Hogan most likely will be in charge of the huddle through the bye week at the end of the month. That’s a three-game tryout, so to speak, to determine whether the starting quarterback chain will end at No. 28.


  1. I really don't think how well Hogan performs has anything to do with it. Jackson will find an excuse to reinsert Kizer at some point just out of pride and a stubborn refusal to admit he was wrong. Jackson is going to bet his job on Kizer, ergo, he will be sending out resumes at the end of the year. The only thing that might save him is if the organization forces him to hire an offensive coordinator. The play calling and game day decision making has been atrocious.

  2. Can't agree with you on this one, Bill. The only way Kizer enters the game is if Hogan is either injured or plays worse than Kizer did in the first five games.

    Once Jackson committed to Hogan, he's got to stay with him for at least two or three games. Otherwise, the players will probably think their coach has lost his mind.

    Playcalling is an entirely different matter.