CLEVELAND - The Cleveland Browns announced on Wednesday that Kevin Hogan will start at quarterback against the Houston Texans on Sunday, bringing the DeShone Kizer's reign as the team's starting signal-caller to at least a temporary end after just 4.5 games.
“We’ve liked what Kevin has been able to do within our offense when he’s been in there and he will start on Sunday because that’s what we feel is best for our team at this point in time," Browns head coach Hue Jackson said in a statement. "This does not change the way we feel about DeShone [Kizer] going forward. He has worked extremely hard and still very much has a bright future. Right now, it’s better for him and his development to back up Kevin.”
In theory, Jackson's decision makes sense. Kizer clearly appeared overwhelmed in Cleveland's loss to the New York Jets and at this point, it would probably be better for him to sit and learn. Benching Kizer also probably gives the 0-5 Browns a better chance at actually winning.
But if winning is all that matters, is Hogan -- who spent much of the team's training camp as its fourth-string quarterback -- really the best answer? And if this is also about Kizer sitting back and learning, wouldn't it make more sense for him to do so while watching a veteran as opposed to a second-year signal-caller like Hogan?
If only an experienced, playoff-tested quarterback -- who possesses plenty of upside in his own right -- was available.
Perhaps one like Colin Kaepernick?
Kaepernick, of course, is still looking for a job, despite stringing together a sneakily solid 2016 season with the San Francisco 49ers. His 4-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio and 90.7 quarterback rating, however, were overshadowed by his decision to kneel during the national anthem, which many cite as the reason he's currently not a member of an NFL roster.
Only such distractions shouldn't be a problem in the Browns' locker room, where several players similarly knelt prior to a preseason game against the New York Giants and a Week 3 loss to the Indianapolis Colts, where 21 players silently protested during the anthem. If anything, Kaepernick would likely be embraced by Cleveland teammates who have been readily willing to speak their minds this season.
As far as quarterback play -- which is what this should really only be about, right? -- Kaepernick would not only give the Browns a better option to win right now than Hogan, but possesses higher upside as well. It's unlikely Kaepernick would wind up being the ultimate solution to Cleveland's nearly three-decade quarterback problem. But at just 29-years-old, he's also far from damaged goods.
If anything, Kaepernick could provide the Browns with their best option to win immediately, while simultaneously giving Kizer time to study under an experienced veteran. After all, that's what the team appears to be attempting to accomplish with its 28th quarterback change since 1999 -- it just doesn't happen to have a better alternative than Hogan.
And there's at least one who's readily available.
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