Grief is widely considered to be one of the most complex human emotions; it’s right up there with love, trust and that strange satisfaction you get as you listen to your neighbors’ marriage slowly fall apart during myriad screaming matches across the hall.
Appropriately then, grief is split into five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. This is the denial stage, and if you’re a ‘they’ll go 11-5 this year, just you watch’ kind of Browns fan, you’re already vehemently familiar with this stage.
There’s an increasingly large number of Browns fans that are trying to talk themselves into Brock Osweiler as a legitimate starting option. Various and terrible Brock/rock puns are being made, and the Browns even released a moderately high production hype video of Osweiler making check-down passes in practice.
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) August 7, 2017
Why aren’t I ready to Brock, you ask. Why have I not jumped on this hype train currently speeding along the Brocky Mountains and accepted glorious mediocrity?
It’s because Brock Osweiler is not even a mediocre quarterback. He is, by almost all measurable statistics, an outstandingly bad one.
The Man, The Myth, The Below Average NFL Starter
Brock Osweiler began his career in a very strange way, serving as the backup to an aging Peyton Manning in Denver. In Manning’s last season, his play faltered and he was benched (or taken out of games for injury reasons, but many have questioned the veracity of those claims).
He debuted for the Broncos in Week 10 against the Kansas City Chiefs and played for the Broncos for the remainder of the regular season. For a backup, he didn’t look half bad.
The problems with Osweiler is that half bad isn’t good enough to consistently start games in the NFL, and he doesn’t seem to be improving.
— cover32 Browns (@cover32_CLE) August 15, 2017
(There goes my theory that Brock Osweiler was actually made out of cheese.)
After an offseason where he was holding out for a big payday from the Broncos, Osweiler eventually accepted a contract with the Houston Texans, who thought they were buying an NFL starter that could finally quarterback them to the playoffs.
Osweiler ended his season with the Texans with a quarterback rating of 72.2. He threw for 15 touchdowns and 16 interceptions and ended up with a PFF grade of 40.2, which was 34th out of 36 quarterbacks that qualified for their rating.
The greatest joy Osweiler ever bought the Houston Texans was when he was finally benched in favor of Tom Savage, who very few in the football world had heard of before last season.
— cover32 Browns (@cover32_CLE) August 16, 2017
Savage and Osweiler would duke it out for the Houston quarterbacking job for the rest of the season, but it was clear to everyone watching that Osweiler was not going to live up to his price tag.
Cut to early March, when the Browns made a unique trade with the Houston Texans to acquire Brock Osweiler and draft picks, and right then and there the football world quickly deemed Osweiler as the collateral in this trade, and likely not going to be a serious starting contender for the Browns. It was even reported that the Browns might release him, and that other teams had already started to reach out and inquire about Osweiler’s availability.
From what I understand, the #Browns are weighing simply releasing Brock Osweiler after trading for him. NBA style
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 9, 2017
The Browns did not, in fact, cut or trade Osweiler, but rather kept him on their roster as the offseason continued. They drafted DeShone Kizer in the second round of the NFL Draft and started Cody Kessler with the first team in offseason OTAs.
Death and Taxes…and Brock Osweiler?
It’s an often repeated statement that, “Nothing is certain except for death and taxes.” Benjamin Franklin is credited with first coining the statement, but fortunately for Franklin he didn’t live in a time where the NFL offseason was replete with tedious stories about the resurgence of Brock Osweiler as a potential NFL starter.
Brock Osweiler a starter?
— NFL (@NFL) May 25, 2017
Reports were bandied about that Osweiler was working on fixing his fundamentals and would be ready to battle for the starting spot, and in late May he claimed that he could be the starter for the Browns, and that the proof was in the tape.
The proof, as it turned out, was not in the tape, and his comments were laughed at by the majority of the league and the media. Cody Kessler started Browns OTA’s in the first position and it looked like the Browns had escaped the Osweiler trap.
And then this happened:
Hue Jackson names Brock Osweiler the starter for our preseason opener against the Saints
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) August 7, 2017
Osweiler threw 16 passes for the Browns against the Saints, and he completed six of them. That’s a 42.9 completion percentage and a quarterback rating of 50.3. He averaged three yards per attempt.
Although it was just a preseason game, Osweiler came out and played much the same as he did for the Texans last season. He didn’t show flashes of a changed quarterback and he made similar mistakes, and after DeShone Kizer came in and wowed with his pocket poise and arm strength it’s not hard to understand why fans are clamoring for a Kizer start, especially over Brock Osweiler.
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) August 11, 2017
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As the Browns continue to prepare for the Giants and the regular season, the quarterback battle continued in Cleveland. Cody Kessler has seemed to have fallen off of the map in the race for the starting job, but the Browns have also made it clear through their actions that they don’t necessarily think that DeShone Kizer is ready to start either. With that said, he’s looked the best in the preseason game and has shown a lot of people some good things in practice.
Sashi Brown came out and said in an interview to 92.3 The Fan that he would be surprised if they cut or released Brock Osweiler:
— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) August 15, 2017
That was a very revealing statement in two different ways. It’s clear that the Browns are taking depth at quarterback seriously, an intelligent decision given the major issues they had at the position last season, but the second is that the discussion of Osweiler even being on the roster is seemingly being had (at least in the Browns front office). If the Browns were truly confident about Osweiler being a starter, this wouldn’t even be a discussion.
Off to a Brocky Start
Just as things were finally looking up for the Browns at quarterback (Osweiler hype seemed to have died a swift death and Kizer was slowly getting more buzz again), Coach Hue Jackson came out and said:
“I still think right now where we are that Brock deserves the opportunity to walk out there first. I think seeing DeShone, again last week–it was in the second half. I want to see him now in the first half, and see what he can do there. I will give him an opportunity there to showcase his talent and ability, and then we will put Cody in and go from there.”
Which quickly brought me to the second stage of grief: anger.
To be fair to Osweiler, he did look like the best quarterback during the Browns scrimmage game, but he was awful in the first preseason game. Again, he only completed six passes and averaged three yards per attempt. He did have a nice run, but compared to what Kizer did Osweiler was forgettable and ineffective.
There is another train of thought amongst fans and the media, and that’s the idea that Hue Jackson and company are playing Osweiler a lot to try and show him off, so that come mid-October when injuries set in they can trade Osweiler to a desperate team for an early round draft pick.
That, in the therapy world, would be known as the third stage of grief: bargaining.
The simple fact of the matter is that Brock Osweiler has had more than his fair share of a chance to prove that he deserves to start in this league, and has failed to prove it on every occasion. That doesn’t mean Kizer is ready for a week one start, and that doesn’t even mean that the Browns coaching staff is wrong for keeping Osweiler the number one quarterback at this point.
We just need to stop pretending that he’s an NFL caliber starter.