As the 2018 edition of the NFL Combine winds down, we in Cleveland are embarking on our yearly visit to Quarterback Drama Town. While everyone agrees that the team needs to address this position NOW, the Combine numbers and game film from Saquon Barkley have opened the door to the question: Must the Cleveland Browns take a quarterback with their first pick in the draft?
Yes, you read that correctly. No, this isn’t an article from 2016… or 2015…. or 2014…. or, well, you get the drift. After making a landmark trade to acquire quarterback Brock Osweiler in the offseason, drafting Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer in the 2nd round, waiving Osweiler, watching Kevin Hogan come into preseason games and move the ball effectively, and sending Cody Kessler off to oblivion, the Cleveland Browns decide to start Kizer.
Fans were happy. Rebuilding was starting. The franchise quarterback was here. And then the season happened.
The Week 5 match-up versus the New York Jets started off on a high note; the Browns won their first coin toss of the season! I know you think this is not really something worth noting, yet as the losers of the toss for the first four weeks, opponents have deferred. This forced a shaky young offense to take the field first, ending in 3-and-outs or blocked punts and eventually the depressing fact that they were the only team in the entire NFL to have never had a lead at any point in a game. Never.
Week 2 has come and gone and the Cleveland Browns are winless. While I’m trying not to channel the Ghosts of Seasons Past, last year’s 1-15 record isn’t far enough away for comfort.
Bright Spots: Rookie Quarterback DeShone Kizer, a Notre Dame product, won the hearts of fans during the preseason. Each week he made mistakes, but he seemed to be learning quickly and we saw progress as he got rid of the ball faster, started leading his receivers and started to throw the ball away to avoid sacks. All those lessons seemed lost over the past two weeks as he racked up NINE sacks, FOUR interceptions and only ONE touchdown. Yet, for the first time in recent years, fans have the hope that he will improve, that he could be our QB of the Future and are showing patience as he develops.
Defensive Coordinator Gregg “3G” Williams has brought a “Come Get Some” attitude that has long been missing here in Cleveland. While we battle perennial defensive greats Baltimore and Pittsburgh, we continued to get pushed around on the field and never had the talent or attitude to get some back. That is changing this year with the addition of Rookie Jabrill Peppers. His status as an alumni of the University of Michigan aside, fans look forward to what excitement he will bring to the field, whether it’s returning punts or flying around on defense.
And let’s not forget the #1 overall pick in this year’s draft, Myles Garrett. His injury near the end of preseason caused a lot of angst for fans, but we want him back healthy and ready to wreak havoc on opponents. While Head Coach Hue Jackson refuses to name a time frame for his return, I’m hopeful that he’ll get back on the field for the Week 4 match versus the Cincinnati Bengals. Division Games Matter!