QB or not QB? That's question Browns still can't answer

Michael Cohen
Packers News
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Cleveland Browns quarterback Cody Kessler is sacked by Pittsburgh Steelers inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons before he can get off a pass during the first half of a game in Cleveland on Nov. 20, 2016.

Twelfth in a 13-part series on the opponents the Green Bay Packers will face during the 2017 regular season.

GREEN BAY - Whether they like it or not, the Cleveland Browns have become the franchise where quarterbacks' careers go to die. It’s been 18 years since the franchise rejoined the league in 1999, and since then 26 men have tried and failed to get the job done with any kind of prolonged success.

Here’s the list: Tim Couch, Ty Detmer, Doug Pederson, Spergon Wynn, Kelly Holcomb, Jeff Garcia, Luke McCown, Trent Dilfer, Charlie Frye, Derek Anderson, Ken Dorsey, Brady Quinn, Bruce Gradkowski, Colt McCoy, Jake Delhomme, Seneca Wallace, Brandon Weeden, Thaddeus Lewis, Jason Campbell, Brian Hoyer, Johnny Manziel, Connor Shaw, Josh McCown, Austin Davis, Robert Griffin III and Cody Kessler.

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This year the Browns will choose between Kessler, Brock Osweiler and rookie DeShone Kizer, a second-round pick from Notre Dame.

But as the quarterback saga stretched on, general manager Sachi Brown decided to build from the inside out: strengthen the offensive line first and go from there. The Browns signed former Cincinnati Bengals guard Kevin Zeitler (five years, $60 million), considered by some to be the best guard in the league, and plucked center JC Tretter (three years, $16.75 million) from the Green Bay Packers.

They also used a fifth-round pick on offensive tackle Roderick Johnson from Florida State.

So even if the Browns are unable to find a quality starting quarterback again this year, and history suggests that certainly will be the case, at least the candidates will play behind what should be a sturdy offensive line.

Here are three things to know about the Browns.

» Top dog: The Browns had the No. 1 pick in the draft after a disastrous season in which they went 1-15. And while there was some last-minute speculation that Sachi Brown would snatch quarterback Mitch Trubisky, the organization did what it should have done and drafted defensive end Myles Garrett from Texas A&M. Garrett is an athletic phenom with the potential to become one of the better pass rushers in the league. He was the consensus best player available, and the Browns ultimately made the right choice in securing a rare talent with tremendous upside.  

» Waving goodbye: It’s very difficult to find bright spots in such a terrible season, but wide receiver Terrelle Pryor was one of them. A former quarterback at Ohio State and with the Oakland Raiders, Pryor proved to be a dynamic threat on the perimeter with his combination of size (6-5, 232 pounds) and speed (4.38 seconds) that make him virtually unguardable for defensive backs. He caught 77 passes for 1,007 yards and four touchdowns in his first season at receiver, and 62 percent of his receptions yielded first downs. But Pryor left Cleveland during free agency and signed a one-year, $8 million deal with Washington.

» Moving up: As the first night of the NFL draft hummed along, Brown put in a call to the Packers and executed a trade to acquire another pick in the first round. General manager Ted Thompson was happy to oblige. So the Browns moved up and selected tight end David Njoku from Miami, a freakish playmaker who should lessen the blow of Pryor’s departure. The Packers moved back, and with the first pick in the second round, Thompson selected cornerback Kevin King from Washington, a player he might have taken in the first round anyway. The success of Njoku will determine whether the Browns made a smart move or gave up too much. 

Packers schedule glimpse

Dec. 10 at Cleveland, noon, Fox

Week before: vs. Tampa Bay, Dec. 3

Week after: at Carolina, Dec. 17

On the horizon: vs. Minnesota, Dec. 23

Cleveland Browns

Coach: Hue Jackson (9-23 overall, 1-15 with Cleveland, second season with Cleveland)

2016 record: 1-15, fourth in AFC North

Scoring offense: 16.5 points per game (31st in NFL)

Total offense: 311 yards per game (30th)

Scoring defense: 28.2 points allowed per game (30th)

Total defense: 392.4 yards allowed per game (31st)

Series: Packers lead 12-7

Last meeting: The Packers rolled to a 31-13 victory when the Browns traveled to Lambeau Field on Oct. 20, 2013. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw for 260 yards and three touchdowns; tailback Eddie Lacy rushed for 82 yards and a score. But all of the attention centered on tight end Jermichael Finley, who left the field strapped to a backboard after suffering the neck injury that ultimately ended his career. Finley collided with safety Tashaun Gipson and suffered a bruised spinal cord. It was his final game in the NFL.


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