CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – The Browns’ inability to win a football game can be tied to a lot of things but at the center of it all remains the quarterback.
Already this season they’ve proven it doesn’t matter who is under center – or in the shotgun, the short-, or even long-term answer doesn’t appear to be on the roster.
Last week’s botched trade with Cincinnati for AJ McCarron confirmed that, but the deeper issue is that their processes for making these decisions is clearly flawed.
The Browns passed on Carson Wentz, trading the No. 2 pick in the 2016 Draft used to select him to Philadelphia for a boatload of picks that have netted: receiver Corey Coleman, right tackle Shon Coleman, second/third string quarterback Cody Kessler, receiver Ricardo Louis, safety Derrick Kindred, former receiver Jordan Payton, new left tackle Spencer Drango, safety Jabrill Peppers and starting QB for now DeShone Kizer.
“I don’t think just trading down was the problem,” executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown said Monday. “I think it is just purely evaluating. There are obviously a lot of teams that passed on Russell Wilson that know how to evaluate quarterbacks. There are a lot of teams that passed on Deshaun Watson or other quarterbacks, (Raiders QB) Derek Carr or others that didn’t go No. 1 or No. 2 in the draft, that certainly have the ability to evaluate quarterbacks.
“I don’t shy away from missed opportunities at all. That is going to be a piece of it. There are a lot of non-quarterbacks out there frankly that are playing well right now too that we would love to have on our team, but we are not going to get every one right. We haven’t and we won’t moving forward. We will get enough of them right and we will solve the quarterback position here.”
In 2016 Brown chose Kessler in the third round over Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (selected in the fourth round) and elected in April to pass on Texans rookie Deshaun Watson before grabbing Kizer in the second round, 52nd overall.
Assuming Kizer isn’t the answer, that’s 5 misses in their draft evaluation.
Then there are the quarterbacks Brown has brought in on top of Kessler and Kizer: Robert Griffin III and Kevin Hogan bringing the total to 0-7 in 2 years trying to find a QB that can win a game. A game.
“We never walk away feeling like it is OK in terms of that is something that we planned to do, but you also have to be professional enough and realistic enough to know that is going to be part of it,” Brown said regarding the misses. “There is a guy out in Seattle (QB Russell Wilson) running around that the entire league passed on two and a half times. Those are the things that you want to learn from in all honesty. You have to be accountable to them and go back and take a look at it.
“Obviously, for us, the focus has to be moving forward – what can we learn from that that can help our decisions moving forward?”
Head coach Hue Jackson’s hands are not clean in all of this either. He’s had significant input on the position.
We all remember former assistant coach Pep Hamilton’s water bottle test in 2016 and RGIII making the Earth move from under Jackson’s feet during his workout in March of 2016 that apparently was the green light to ultimately trade away the rights to Wentz.
And now Jackson and the coaches clearly are not on the same page with Brown and the front office despite their assertions to the contrary.
It boils down to this: the Browns, by their own admission, don’t know how to evaluate quarterbacks and so, if they don’t know how to do that, how on earth does this group be given a third offseason to try and answer the question again?
Britt Bumped – It finally appears that receiver Kenny Britt has been demoted. At least on paper.
Britt, who has been a problem on and off the field since he was gifted a $32.5 million contract as a free agent earlier this year that included $17 million guaranteed, was listed as a backup receiver behind Ricardo Louis, who leads players at the position with 23 catches for 292 yards this season, on the team’s Week 10 unofficial depth chart.
It should be noted that the key word there is ‘unofficial’ which means what is released does not always match the actual lineup used on game day.
“The reality of free agency is when you are a wide receiver that is a starting wide receiver in this league and you hit free agency, you are going to get paid,” Brown said. “That just is the reality of it. Kenny has eight more opportunities this year and future years on his deal to come around. We haven’t been, obviously, from his perspective or ours, where we expected to be with his performance, but he is working hard and he will continue to.
“I think that is the reality and dangers of free agency. Kevin (Zeitler), JC (Tretter) and Jason (McCourty) come in, and Kenny, they provide us with some real stable performance; my sense is that Kenny will work to turn it around in the second half.”
Britt has just 10 catches from 28 targets for 128 yards and a touchdown this season.
Welcome Back – Receiver Josh Gordon reported as scheduled Tuesday to the Browns facility in Berea, Ohio. Jackson as well as Brown were scheduled to meet with him to lay out the groundwork for his return to the field.
“The first day back in the building went great,” Gordon said in an Instagram story video posted Tuesday. “The real work begins now. let you all know where I’m at. Lets go.”
Under terms of Gordon’s conditional reinstatement by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, Gordon must continue to abide by the terms of the NFL’s substance abuse testing program in addition to clinical requirements.
Gordon, who has served 53 games in suspensions since the start of the 2013 season and hasn’t appeared in a regular season game since 2014, is eligible to return to practice Nov. 20 and play Dec. 3 at the LA Chargers barring any missteps or setbacks.
Draft Watch – If the NFL Draft were to be held today, the 0-8 Browns would pick second behind 0-9 San Francisco.
Cleveland still maintains the strength of schedule tie-breaker between the clubs should they remain even in the win percentage column.
The Browns also own Houston’s first-round selection which moves up to No. 7 following the season-ending injury to Watson and the Texans’ loss to the Colts that dropped them to 3-5.