The Cleveland Browns are taking a progressive route toward sorting out its quarterback situation (maybe the Bears will take note).
Not only is DeShone Kizer starting Saturday’s game against the Buccaneers, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that Brock Osweiler isn’t scheduled to play at all. If you recall, the Browns made a daring trade to acquire Osweiler (and draft picks) from the Houston Texans in what is reminiscent of a good ol’ fashioned MLB-style salary dump.
To be sure, Cleveland hasn’t been a model franchise for building excellence on the gridiron for some time now, but this new regime is aggressively trying to write a new chapter in its history.
Good on them.
- To their credit, the Bears are trying to build a better future too. Their latest (long-term thinking) move was signing Charles Leno Jr. to a contract extension to keep him with the team through 2021. Leno Jr. started all 16 games last year and was a surprisingly effective pass blocker. The extension isn’t necessarily a bank-breaker either, and it locks up Leno Jr. – who won’t turn 26 until October – through his prime years. Essentially, this move makes him part of the offensive core that will hopefully bring brighter days (and lit scoreboards) to Soldier Field.
- Running back Jordan Howard is seen as another piece of that core. And he revealed to Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times that he was (literally) running blindly last season. “I was just going out there kind of blind,” Howard told Jahns. “I couldn’t see far away.” Howard ran for 1,313 yards en route to a Pro Bowl appearance, but isn’t satisfied and isn’t planning to settle.
- He did have offseason laser eye surgery to help aid his vision, and hopes it will help lead him to winning the rushing crown in 2017. Hopefully, he can better protect his eyes as we approach the regular season after missing last week’s preseason game with a minor scratch.
- Alshon Jeffery could have been part of that offensive core as a big-play wide receiver, but alas he’s gone. To that end, Mark Potash of the Sun-Times believes Jeffery’s presence has been missed by the Bears during training camp and the preseason. Jeffery would have been the only established receiver in Bears camp had he returned, but it’s not as though his move to Philadelphia has gone smoothly. As we touched on in yesterday’s Bullets, Jeffery has missed playing time and practice reps due to injuries, and his position coach believes he has fallen behind because of it. It’s hard to imagine Jeffery not fighting the injury bug had he stayed in Chicago, so perhaps this was all for the best.
- Speaking of break-ups, Jay Cutler knew one had to happen between he and the Bears. Cutler told Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald things started to wear on him toward the end of his run in Chicago. It makes sense – constant, nagging injuries and a lot of losing would wear down anyone, even the franchise’s all-time leader in passing yards, touchdowns, completions, and every other category you could probably think of. But now that he’s healthy, Cutler seems excited to turn the page.
- Over at The Athletic, Dan Durkin dives deep into film study to show how second-year defensive ends Jonathan Bullard and Roy Robertson-Harris are emerging as playmakers. The Bears’ defensive line lacked depth and upside last year, and it showed whenever teams committed to the run and bulldozed into the second and third levels of the defense. Akiem Hicks was superb last year, but could only do so much on an individual level. Both Bullard (a third-round pick in 2016) and Robertson-Harris (an undrafted free agent) have flashed their abilities to disrupt run plays in the backfield and pressure the quarterback often during the preseason. There have been plenty of encouraging signs from a player who struggled in his spot appearances (Bullard) and another who didn’t see the field after the preseason (Robertson-Harris).
- Over at the Chicago Bears’ official website, Larry Mayer writes about how winning the battles at the line of scrimmage led the Bears to their first preseason victory. Victory in the trenches has long been one of the keys to being a successful football team, and it looks like the Bears are building with that in mind. Not to be left out, the Bears’ new-look offensive line performed admirably without Kyle Long. They even had a couple of top-performers by Pro Football Focus’ standards.
- And if you’re a member of the Bears’ defense, realize this guy is going be a problem:
Stefon Diggs impressed once again this weekend pic.twitter.com/nCohA4CtPY
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) August 22, 2017
- I feel like the Bears were snubbed by a Fanatics survey which somehow concluded that the Minnesota Vikings fans are the most hardcore in football. I’m pretty sure we all know some fans who would go beyond sitting on a hornets nest, eating cockroaches, and passing on bathing for a year to see their team win it all for the first time since Super Bowl XX. Recount, anyone?
- Former Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz didn’t mince words regarding the team’s current state while in Los Angeles. Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes Martz shredded the Rams for hiring head coach Sean McVay in a book titled “Blitzed: Why NFL Teams Gamble on Starting Rookie Quarterbacks” by Thomas George. Martz sees the hire as the Rams bringing in a “buddy” for second-year quarterback Jared Goff. McVay is the youngest coach in the NFL.
- No coach-quarterback buddy teams here, but Daniel Jeremiah is on the hunt to find the next Mitch Trubisky, an off-the-radar prospect who could turn in a season that launches them into top-five pick status. Jeremiah highlights five players, including a quarterback, who could take college football by storm.