The Browns and Buccaneers face off in the third preseason game of the young season, and the Browns have a few pressing questions that they need answering before the regular season begins.
Is DeShone Kizer the quarterback moving forward?
Last Wednesday, coach Hue Jackson came out and named DeShone Kizer his starter for this weeks game against the Buccaneers; the third preseason game is widely used as the “dress rehearsal” for regular season action, so this decision was significant in that it portends a Kizer start to the regular season.
Even more significant is that Brock Osweiler is not expected to play any snaps in this game.
This is interesting: Cleveland QB Brock Osweiler is not expected to play in the Browns' third preseason game, per sources.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 23, 2017
This further indicated that Osweiler was not going to be the starting quarterback as the Browns regular season. With Kessler and Hogan looking permanently relegated to backup roles, all the signs are pointing to Kizer being the guy.
Kizer just has to go out and prove it.
The Physicality of this Browns Defense
Kizer isn’t the only member of this Browns team with something to prove. This Browns defense was much maligned last season for their lack of physicality, terrible secondary and overall lackluster performance.
In the first two preseason games, the Browns defense has easily stolen the show as the best part of the team on the field. Some look to the impact of new coordinator Gregg Williams, while others point to the emergence of young talent.
The answer, as answers often are, is found somewhere in the middle, but that doesn’t make this defense any less impressive. If the Browns maintain that physicality against the Buccaneers, especially in the front seven, they may surprise some people this season. The Browns already have seven sacks and three forced fumbles over the first two games.
Players to Watch
There are two incredibly obvious players to watch this game, and that’s DeShone Kizer and Joe Schobert.
Hue Jackson made it clear that this starting job was Kizer’s to lose. If he goes out and impresses today (presumably he’ll play the majority of the first half) he will all but cement his role as this team’s Week 1 starter.
Kizer didn’t have a bad game against the Giants, but he did make mistakes characteristic of young rookie players. His pocket awareness wasn’t great and he held onto the ball too long, but hopefully he’ll develop his skills quickly if he is going to have success as a starter.
If Kizer can move the offense and not take unnecessary sacks, there is really nothing keeping him from being the starting quarterback for the Browns.
Schobert impressed last week against the Giants, logging six tackles, a sack and a pass breakup while only seeing 23 snaps.
With the loss of linebacker Tank Carder, Schobert is going to have to step up and help fill the void in this defense. Hue Jackson has come out and said, “I think Joe will fit the bill and do what is necessary to play the position and play it well.”
Like last week, expect the Browns offense to struggle. The defense can keep them in this game if they can contain Jameis Winston, but sheer talent-wise the Bucs have the Browns outmatched. Don’t be surprised if this is the game the Browns lose in the preseason.