CLEVELAND -- During training camp last summer, the Cleveland Browns made a very quick decision when it came to the starting quarterback, and elected to go with Robert Griffin III over fellow veteran Josh McCown and rookie Cody Kessler.
Griffin was hurt in the fourth quarter of the first game of the 2016 season and missed 12 weeks, while McCown and Kessler also saw significant time under center despite suffering injuries of their own.
This time around, second-year Browns coach Hue Jackson will be in no hurry to decide between Kessler, rookie DeShone Kizer and veteran Brock Osweiler when the team reports for training camp in late July.
“I don’t want to rush that because I think you have to make the right decision,” Jackson said. “Faster is always better than later, but at the same time, I am not going to put a timetable on myself because there is still a process that we all must go through as an offensive unit to say, ‘This is the guy and this is what we feel comfortable with.’
“I am not going to back off of the characteristics that I want our quarterback to exhibit. We can’t turn the ball over. We have to be able to run the team and play within our system and deliver the ball and make plays and uplift this whole organization. That is what it takes, and we will find out who that guy is.”
Jackson was adamant that by the first preseason game last year, he would have a starting quarterback, and the selection of Griffin lived up to that billing. Although it would be ideal for the Browns to have that decision made ahead of the preseason again this year, Jackson is more focused on doing what is best for the team.
“That is something that I think is important to our team if I can, but if I can’t, then I won’t,” Jackson said. “There is a timetable, I guess, with everything, but I’m not going to rush. There is not a rush. Let’s take all of the information in.
“Let’s give these guys a legitimate chance. I know a lot more about them than I did when we started, and I’m sure I will know a lot more about them as we go through training camp.”
In nine games, including eight starts, during the 2016 season, Kessler completed 128 of his 195 attempts (65.6 percent) for 1,380 yards and six touchdowns against just two interceptions. Additionally, Kessler posted a 92.3 quarterback rating.
In five NFL seasons, four with the Denver Broncos and one with the Houston Texans, Osweiler completed 488 of his 815 attempts (59.9 percent) for 5,083 yards and 26 touchdowns against 22 interceptions over 36 career games. Osweiler has a career passer rating of 77.4.
In his two years as a starter at the University of Notre Dame, the 6-foot-4, 230-pound Kizer completed 423 of his 696 attempts for 5,809 yards and 47 touchdowns against 19 interceptions.
And Jackson believes that no matter what road the Browns take in terms of their starting quarterback, Cleveland will have someone under center that can succeed at a high level.
“Once we do that, we have to,” Jackson said. “I’m going to do it because I think that guy gives us the best chance to win.
“This is still truly about winning more so than anything. The players in the locker room, our fans and everybody deserves that. This isn’t who is the nicest guy or I like somebody more than the other. It is who can help us win because at the end of the day, that is what it is all about.”
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