When five different quarterbacks see action in a team’s first eight games, that’s not usually a sign of a consistently strong team. The Cleveland Browns are, in fact, consistently inconsistent. They have been so discombobulated at quarterback in just the first half of the season. As the only winless team in the NFL, the Browns must be starting to think long-term with regards to who is under center.
The season started off with Robert Griffin III getting a shot at redemption with a new team. He looked rusty early in the preseason, but seemed to settle in by the start of September. Griffin looked average at best in game one, completing just 12 of his 26 pass attempts for 190 yards and an interception. In typical reckless Griffin fashion, he tried to do too much on the run and injured his shoulder while being forced out of bounds.
Enter NFL journeyman, Josh McCown, who earned the start in week two with his seventh NFL team. At 37 years old, McCown showed that his play was about as unspectacular as the rest of his uneventful career. After leading Baltimore in the first quarter 20-2, McCown and the Browns allowed a victory to slip away in the second half, falling 20-25. This year, McCown has thrown four touchdowns and six interceptions.
Next up: third week, third quarterback, and third round draft pick, Cody Kessler. If there is a silver lining and sliver of hope in Cleveland, it is Kessler, who has tossed the ball for 1,241 yards and six touchdowns, while completing nearly 67% of his passes. He leads the team in those three areas. Kessler shows the most promise because, a) he is young, b) doesn’t make too many bonehead mistakes, c) he is the most consistent with his reads and d) every other quarterback on the roster has registered mediocre to horrible statistics.
Kessler’s best game came in week six when he threw for 336 yards and two scores. It was a hard-fought game with Tennessee just barely beating Cleveland, 28-26.
Batter up, veteran Charlie Whitehurst, who saw action in only the 13-33 thrashing against New England. After throwing for 182 yards, one touchdown, and one interception, Whitehurst was not given a second shot with the team.
And last but not least, there is fifth round draft pick, Kevin Hogan. Hogan hasn’t started any games, but has seen action. Though he has thrown for a dismal 104 yards and one interception on the season, he also made one of the most impressive plays for the Browns. Dropping back to pass with nobody open, Hogan took off instantly and weaved his way through about four defenders before diving for the goal line for a 28 yard score. The Browns should keep Hogan as a backup because if he can develop some accuracy and timing with his receivers, he could be a dangerous weapon.
Even wide receiver Terrelle Pryor has taken some snaps at quarterback, but he isn’t up for future consideration.
At 0-10, the Browns are guaranteed to have a losing record and miss the playoffs in 2016. This quarterback roulette is about as active as it gets. Sometimes Head Coach Hue Jackson looks clueless as to who should go in and he doesn’t do his younger quarterbacks any favors by yanking them at half time. McCown has to leave and retire. Whitehurst was already released. The only question is does Jackson want to invest more time into developing a sporadic, injury-prone RG3, or go with Kessler, the younger of the two prospects? Hogan should stay and get another shot at some point this season to show what he can do in a full game.
For the future, Cleveland should retain their two rookie quarterbacks and determine if RG3 has any role on this team. If he doesn’t, trade him – though his worth is pretty nonexistent at this point – or release him and sign a veteran quarterback not over the age of 34. Brian Hoyer may not want to return to the Bears so he could be a valuable option. The same goes for Mark Sanchez. This Cleveland team is so young; they could use some veteran leadership. A backup experienced quarterback on the roster is an underrated component for the development of a starting quarterback.