The Bears, the Browns, and Filling the Quarterback Position

[dt_divider style=”thick” /]The Inside the Pylon team often enjoys debating and discussing team-building philosophy and other football topics in our Slack board. From time to time, we publish these chats, lightly edited for readability. What follows is a recent discussion on how teams try to find a quarterback and how the Chicago Bears and Cleveland Browns have attacked the position in recent offseasons.

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Dan Hatman [12:53 PM]

Who is the QB that was in free agency last year that is killing it this year?


Jeff Feyerer [12:58 PM]



Sal Conti [12:58 PM]

Case Keenum?


Mark Schofield [12:59 PM]

Colin Kaepernick?

Oh, wait.


josephferraiola [12:59 PM]

Keenum? Did Tyrod hit FA? He’s doing really well.


Dave Archibald [1:00 PM]

Free agent QB success list is like Drew Brees, NO, 2006, Peyton Manning, DEN, 2012, end of list (at least in the last 15-20 years).


Derek Benson [7:23 PM]

@davearchie Cunningham in 98?


Dave Archibald [8:51]

Good one Derek. Also Vick in 2010. But both of those were short-lived

Wait, Randall Cunningham was sacked 72 times in 1986 … in a season where he started five games and had barely 200 pass attempts? He was sacked on 1/4 of this dropbacks


Dan Hatman [1:28 PM]

Free agency still comes before the draft right?


josephferraiola [2:12 PM]

I believe the first week of March.

March 14th at 4:00 for 2018.


Dan Hatman [3:17 PM]

Does every team in the NFL have 2 QBs you can win games with?


Michael Nuttle [3:18 PM]

As the resident Browns fan here, let me take a crack at this one: um, no. No they do not.


Justin Twell [3:54 PM]

I echo Nuttle here as our resident Bears fan. Although we don’t know yet whether Trubisky can win games.


Dan Hatman [4:01 PM]

So I ask this series of questions to ask this one. The common convention this year is to pontificate that the Bears screwed up by signing Glennon to that deal. (I’ll contend sticking with him is a different point for this exercise). So if you are an NFL GM and don’t have a QB entering the free agency period (like the Bears), why wouldn’t you take as many shots as possible at acquiring one. No one hits 100% on QBs. And almost no one talks about Seattle signing Matt Flynn prior to drafting Wilson. I get Glennon hasn’t been good and wasn’t a stud when they signed him, but if I’m the GM, I’m not putting all my eggs in one basket. Again, no one hits 100% on QBs. I want many swings at that pinata. Wouldn’t you?


josephferraiola [4:02 PM]

Yup. Same with Houston. Osweiler, Savage, leads to Watson. Eagles – Bradford, Daniel, Wentz


Dan Hatman [4:05 PM]

From the second Trubisky was drafted, people couldn’t figure out Glennon. That leads me to believe that everyone must believe in the 1 QB model and you have to be the Jaguars and live and die with 1 guy. I’m a Ron Wolf guy. Give me as many QBs as humanly possible. I’d sign and draft one every year. I want a New England situation where my #2 and #3 and constantly trade assets


Mark Schofield [4:05 PM]

Backup QBs are important. If I can impart anything in the remaining years I have it’s that.

Since drafting Brady the pats have had 16 drafts. Picked a QB in eight.


Dan Hatman [4:07 PM]

I put all this here as I think there is an intelligent counterpoint to ‘the Bears are stupid…Glennon’


josephferraiola [4:07 PM]

I didn’t know that was the take of reason going around.


They’re getting out of the deal after this year. So I’m not sure why risking the money on Glennon for one year on the chance he’s a good QB hurts the team in a rebuilding year where that money being spent elsewhere isn’t going to impact the W/L record too much.


Justin Twell [4:20 PM]

If Trubisky is at least serviceable to decent this year then the Bears are in a good position going into the offseason. Can cut Glennon and not lose a lot by doing so. There is already good pieces in place in RB, OL and DL and so without a QB taking up $20m on the cap they can distribute the cap to other resources to build around Trubisky.


I think Bears fans in general were shocked by signing Glennon to the money they did as there is a lot of frustration that the Bears have never truly had an elite QB since…..Sid Luckman in the 1940’s!?


Chuck Zodda [4:27 PM]

Also on the NE side, people forget that they carried 4 QBs in 2000 – Bledsoe, John Friesz, Brady, and Michael Bishop. BB was pretty much signaling, “Hey I need a short-term backup and then I’m gonna throw everything I can at the wall and see what sticks.”


Dan Hatman [4:30 PM]

I like what the Bears did in terms of acquiring QBs. Now management of them….


Justin Twell [4:30 PM]

Oh that’s an entirely different story…


Dave Archibald [4:31 PM]

If Trubisky is good no one’s going to remember Glennon in 10 years, just like people barely remember Matt Flynn now


josephferraiola [4:32 PM]

I assume Fox isn’t going to be around long. I don’t get the whole draft a QB, fire the HC the next season model. It’s working for LAR, but I would think bringing them in together or HC prior to QB works better? Because coaches are more set in their ways and won’t always change their scheme to fit their personnel.


Michael Nuttle [4:38 PM]

I find that notion that Fox isn’t going to be around interesting only because of something I read on Chris Palmer when he was the Browns head coach when they first came back. After getting destroyed by the Steelers in the opening game of the ’99, Palmer opted to start rookie Tim Couch over veteran Ty Detmer. Many people thought that it was Palmer feeling worried about needing to win right away and wanted to spark his team by changing QBs when in fact, and this is according to Palmer, he was under the assumption that he was going to have 5 years at least there and if he had that time, he wanted to start getting Couch ready then and be able to evaluate him for moving forward. (Ultimately he got canned after two years to which he said that had he known that, he would’ve stuck with Detmer as he did give them the best chance to “win now”.) So in this case, I think a lot of people are assuming Fox is gone so is this him just trying to win to save his job or is this him operating as what is best for his team and wants to see and properly evaluate what he has in Trubiscuit?


josephferraiola [4:39 PM]



Michael Nuttle [4:39 PM]

Also very possible.


josephferraiola [7:12 PM]

@michael.nuttle I’m curious because last season we talked about if the Browns passing up on Wentz was the right move. Well, now I’m gonna ask if trading away the pick that landed Watson was the way to go. I know they took Kizer at QB, but passing on Wentz and Watson would make me mad. At some point it’s like, well, who’s our franchise QB? Can they give up on Kizer after one season if they have the opportunity to take the best QB in this draft? It’s an odd situation I think. It’s all academic too.

And I’m not saying Kizer isn’t good. He can be. But will he have time? Does Cleveland have the time to wait for that if they have a great pick and a QB is sitting there?


Michael Nuttle [8:52 PM]

@josephferraiola I think, like with the Wentz pick (or lack there of), whether it was the right move or not will be determined by what they eventually do with all of the pieces from it. In this instance, we know of Peppers. There is still a second player that will be drafted at the very least with the other side of the trade (and possibly more if they look to trade it). So whether Kizer is better or whether Kizer is the guy isn’t necessarily the question, it’s: is Kizer, Peppers and future players acquired with the other first round pick from the trade more impactful than just Watson.

Did I want Watson? Definitely. He was my QB1, but they had a chance at him. He was there for the taking and they thought that getting a future first and a player at a different position was worth more and if that is how they feel, I can’t be mad about that. I would be more mad if they took a QB they didn’t want, because then you worry about them misusing him and trying to put square peg in round hole. I don’t think they ever planned on taking Kizer until he was there at 52. Sashi said it himself that they were honestly shocked so to them, I think that solidified their decision to pass on Watson even more.

Now as to the other questions: can they wait on him? Can they give him more than a year? I can’t comment on that because until I see them stay committed to any QB for more than a year, I have a hard time believing that they will. Heck, I am more worried about them sticking with Hue past the bye week right now. My train of thought is, given everything we know now, that if it were up to me, I’d roll with Kizer and use all of the assets they have to put pieces around him. That should, in theory, help raise his level of play by having a better team around him. And if it doesn’t and he stinks so bad that next year to where they are still picking high then, again, in theory, should be in a position that they could get themselves a new quarterback. So who is the franchise QB in Cleveland? Given what I have in front of me, it’s Kizer until it isn’t.


Dave Archibald [8:59 PM]

If they go 1-15 or 2-14 this year and pick first or top two or three again, I think you have to bring in competition for Kizer at least

I hear your logic @michael.nuttle and here’s where we get into weird stuff about acting probabilistically in a world that has discrete outcomes. There’s almost no scenario where Kizer and Watson are both decent QBs, close enough in value that the inclusion of Peppers tips the scale one way or the other


josephferraiola [9:03 PM]

And next year’s first from HOU.


Dave Archibald [9:03 PM]

Oh, right. But Peppers was the trade down. So it’s Watson for Peppers + 2018 first.


josephferraiola [9:04 PM]

Yeah. And I think that was PHI’s 1st round pick they traded to HOU for that trade.


Michael Nuttle [9:05 PM]

Yeah, you are both correct. We were picking 12th because of Philly which we got in the Wentz trade.


josephferraiola [9:06 PM]

Does that mean that pick has to outweigh both Wentz and Watson? How does that go?

Well, not that pick, but all those picks used to get Wentz/Watson.


Michael Nuttle [9:07 PM]

Comparing the two in different situations makes it all the more difficult. Who is to say that if it were Kizer in HOU and Watson in CLE that we wouldn’t have the same results? Not saying that it would be that way, but they didn’t walk into the same situations and that should also be a factor.

And you have to consider then the picks they got from Tennessee when Tennessee traded up to #8 for that Philly pick last year too.


josephferraiola [9:07 PM]

I agree, but I think Kizer has the better OL. Watson has better skill positions.


Michael Nuttle [9:08 PM]

I don’t think it’s that simple.


josephferraiola [9:08 PM]

It’s not. I’m just working it out. haha.


Michael Nuttle [9:08 PM]

Kizer and Watson have had different coaches. Different influences in the locker room. So many factors. What one responds to the other may ignore. Things like that to where it’s almost too much hypothetical and all you can really think about is going forward and know what you have now.


josephferraiola [9:10 PM]

True, but then that makes it impossible to place blame on anyone. When eventually someone has to take the blame. If coaches are holding a player back, especially your QB, then you need new coaches. BOB and Hue are good QB coaches though. I thought Watson and Hue would work well together tbh.


Michael Nuttle [9:11 PM]

Why do we need to blame anyone?


josephferraiola [9:12 PM]

This is not relevant, yet, but at some point when you let two franchise QBs pass you by and you have none someone’s head gotta fly.


Michael Nuttle [9:12 PM]

So we’re sure Watson is a franchise guy then (no offense, Mark 😉 )? And Wentz? (no offense, Sean)


josephferraiola [9:13 PM]

Not relevant, yet. 😉


Michael Nuttle [9:14 PM]

Better, @josephferraiola lol.


Dave Archibald [9:11 PM]

I looked at QBs a couple years ago and the dividing line is top 40 (maybe it was 38 or something). If you pick a QB with a top 40 pick, he’s getting a shot as a starter. Later than that, he might not – even seconds like John Beck and Pat White didn’t get a shot

Cleveland strategy seems to be to take QBs without going all-in on a franchise guy


Michael Nuttle [9:14 PM]

I think you are right but would also say that they are also more worried about building the team first and not sacrificing their ability to build in the future for a franchise QB. Is it wrong? Yes, until it isn’t.

Will someone (or everyone) get fired if at the end of this year or next Kizer looks like a dud and Watson and Wentz are Gods? Absolutely. And they should. But what if with Kizer and a much stronger supporting cast that they built by passing on those two Gods they are competitive all the same? Then it doesn’t matter.


Dave Archibald [9:16 PM]

I think that’s a reasonable strategy – I would say that’s what Seattle did – but I don’t know that they’re doing a great job with building the rest of the roster. Though that’s not really fair with Garrett and Coleman hurt.


josephferraiola [9:16 PM]

I could make the counter argument they had the ability to do both last year. Impact EDGE prospect and QB in same round if they wanted.


Michael Nuttle [9:17 PM]

If that was the QB they wanted.


josephferraiola [9:17 PM]

I want to note that this is all long term talk and may not mean anything.


Michael Nuttle [9:17 PM]

But it’s fun to exercise the brain and think about.

And I agree with you, Dave. Right now it doesn’t look good and at the end of the day, they may make all the wrong picks and we’ll still be sitting here in 2019 saying all the same things hoping and wishing in Cleveland and yet, they can’t be any worse than they’ve been. So it’s worth the shot.


josephferraiola [9:19 PM]

I think that goes back to what Archie said about not getting behind one QB. I’m not sure Hue got to take his QB yet and there is concerns he’s going to get fired. There should be conviction behind that position and draft value should probably be treated differently with QBs too.


Michael Nuttle [9:21 PM]

I would say not taking Watson or Wentz does show conviction to the position. That he won’t just take who people think he should take if he doesn’t believe in them. Because he knows what he wants.


Dave Archibald [9:21 PM]

You can’t say one way or the other without knowing what their eval was on those guys


Michael Nuttle [9:21 PM]



Dave Archibald [9:22 PM]

Taking them at face value, they didn’t like Wentz, so it was right not to take him (even if maybe that was the wrong eval)


Michael Nuttle [9:22 PM]

Saying that them passing up on or taking a guy at any position is also factoring in your opinion on that player.


josephferraiola [9:24 PM]

How long is Hue going to be around for? Or Sashi? One of them has to know they’ll be around for a while to not pick a QB in round 1, right? Or not being impressed with the round 1 QBs.


Michael Nuttle [9:27 PM]

Round 1 QBs in your opinion, my opinion, and other people’s opinion. But maybe not in there’s. Or maybe they were round 1 QBs in their opinion but again, they valued building the team and acquiring draft capital more. I don’t know. This keeps coming back to us trying to put our logic into their thinking. And how long are they around? Well, Hue got a 5 year contract and this is year two, but he is here until he isn’t. We won’t know until Jimmy says so. But if he is supposed to make decisions based off of when he thinks he will get fired, is that anyway to coach? To build a team? No right or wrong answer there.


josephferraiola [9:27 PM]

I just like talking Cleveland Browns. Don’t mind me.


Michael Nuttle [9:30 PM]

No, I do, too. This is good exercise for the brain. I think when we talk about the Browns, we can’t try to continually talk about them in the same way that they’ve been run before or the way other teams have been run.


Dave Archibald [9:30 PM]

Drafting a first-round QB to save your job doesn’t seem like an effective strategy. Most rookie QBs suck


josephferraiola [9:30 PM]

Drafting a 2nd round, 3rd round QB is better?


Dave Archibald [9:30 PM]

I didn’t say that 🙂


Michael Nuttle [9:31 PM]

Denis Leary doesn’t like rookie QBs. Said so in Draft Day.


josephferraiola [9:31 PM]

I know. haha

You only get a certain amount of time though. Wouldn’t it be smart to get that QB early in the process than year 3-4 when you’re coaching for your job?


Michael Nuttle [9:32 PM]

“I don’t like Rookie QBs. Rookie QBs get scared. I need someone who can be confident and run my QB.”

You definitely give yourself a better chance, yes, until you draft Blake Bortles. And according to Hue’s 5 year contract, he is still early in the process.


Dave Archibald [9:33 PM]

just because you need a QB doesn’t mean a QB’s available when you draft


josephferraiola [9:33 PM]

They were available.


Dave Archibald [9:33 PM]

the problem Cleveland runs into is … what if they get better, and when they’re ready to add a QB, now they can’t get one?


Michael Nuttle [9:34 PM]

That is definitely a worry, Dave.


Dave Archibald [9:35 PM]

If you’re picking top five and you like a QB, I think you kinda have to take one, because if you’re doing your job you don’t expect to pick top five very often. But if you don’t like Wentz and Watson, you can’t force it just because you need a QB


Michael Nuttle [9:35 PM]


Now that doesn’t mean they aren’t wrong for misevaluating those guys though, either.


Dave Archibald [9:37 PM]

Also true


josephferraiola [9:37 PM]

I guess because they weren’t transcendent prospects that’s cool, but if they continue on this trajectory (disclaimer – development isn’t linear, folks) and Kizer isn’t around in a season/they never get that franchise QB they messed up.


Michael Nuttle [9:37 PM]

That is correct.

If it all doesn’t work, then yes, it was a waste of time and they were wrong, but in their mind, I assume, they are building this the way they want to do it. And until they know for sure they are wrong (likely by being fired) they will likely continue to do it their way because to then give up on their process now would be the very thing they looked to correct and that was giving up on a process before seeing it through.

Until we know the end of it, one way or the other, though, I don’t think we can judge fully. We have inklings and early feelings that this isn’t going well (or it is, if you’re a hopeless optimistic like me), but we won’t know until the conclusion and as of now, we don’t know when the conclusion is.


josephferraiola [9:42 PM]

I don’t necessarily disagree with them. I’m just a bit concerned they’ll never love a QB. And I want what’s best for the Browns. They have commitment issues, but they’ll come around in the end. Maybe Kevin Hogan/Cody Kessler is the answer. Like the best friend who was there all along. :heart:


Michael Nuttle [9:46 PM]

Haha we can only hope. Maybe they are committed to Kizer. We won’t know until we see it, though. They’re only uncommitted to something until they are committed. And it has to start somewhere. Maybe it’s here with Kizer. Maybe it’s not. Maybe it is Hogan (sorry, can’t say that with a straight face lol).


josephferraiola [9:48 PM]

This is probably more like a M Night film than a romantic comedy.


Michael Nuttle [9:49 PM]

Haha! They sure do have a way of keeping it interesting for us though, don’t they?


josephferraiola [9:50 PM]

For sure. It’s definitely a great case study and tests your beliefs/philosophies in team building through the draft.

Dave Archibald (@davearchie on Twitter), Jeff Feyerer (@jeff_feyerer), Dan Hatman (@Dan_Hatman), Michael Nuttle (@MPN_21), Mark Schofield (@MarkSchofield), Derek Benson (@derekdonald91), Justin Twell (@JustinTwell78) and Joseph Ferraiola all contributed to this entry.

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