Any Browns quarterbacks coach over the years should have earned some form of hazard pay. The man currently in the role, David Lee, is looking at a group of three potential starters (Cody Kessler, DeShone Kizer and Brock Osweiler) and attempting to get one ready for the season opener in less than three months.
“We are competing, but as far as coming along and trying to line them up, we are still a long way from that,” Lee said, via the team’s official site. “I have been coaching quarterbacks for 43 years, and you have to get them to a game. You have to put people in the stands and in pressure situations and then we can rank them one, two, three, four a whole lot easier.”
Specifically, Lee said Kizer and Osweiler both have footwork issues that need to be refined.
If Lee’s name sounds familiar when it comes to particularly thorny quarterback situations, that’s because he’s been in some real doozies over the years. A look back at the 63-year-old’s last five stops in the NFL gives us the following:
Miami Dolphins (2008-2010):
The Chad Pennington era gave way to the Chad Henne era which gave way to the Henne/Tyler Thigpen sub era. Stunningly, the team never finished outside the top 20 in passing yards (10th, 20th, 16th, respectively) and all majority starters finished with a completion percentage of 60 or better.
Buffalo Bills (2012):
End of the Chain Gailey-era Ryan Fitzpatrick Bills with Thigpen and QB/WR hybrid Brad Smith as backups. The club still finished top 13 in passing touchdowns, with Fitzpatrick posting a 60.6 completion rate, 3,400 yards, 24 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.
New York Jets (2013-14):
For the first time in Jets history, Lee oversaw a team that started a rookie quarterback for all 16 games. That player? Geno Smith. Remarkably, Smith finished 8-8 as a starter that year despite an awful 12-21 TD to INT ratio and a 55.8 completion rate. Smith was sacked 43 times, or almost 9 percent of his dropbacks for the year. The following season, Smith was benched for Michael Vick, who was later benched for Smith.
Buffalo Bills (2015-16):
Tyrod Taylor might have been the best quarterback Lee was able to work with since Chad Pennington in the early Dolphins years. Of course, the Taylor era was folded into a perpetually head-scratching battle with EJ Manuel, who started three games over those two seasons and appeared in 13. Cardale Jones also saw the field for a brief stint.
The main takeaway here is that Lee has been able to get some good seasons out of a platoon of quarterbacks not perennially considered among the NFL’s best. If Browns fans are searching for hope amid a hazy quarterback situation, they can rest assured knowing that their position coach has been there before. Can he manage to pull an affirmed starter out of this bunch?