However it happened and whoever is to blame, the Browns have become involved in yet another bungle, thanks to the failed effort to trade for Bengals quarterback A.J. McCarron. So now they’ll move forward without McCarron and with rookie DeShone Kizer, who continues to be the on-again, off-again, on-again, off-again, on-again starter.
Apart from the team’s willingness to periodically bench and un-bench Kizer, the decision to pursue McCarron at the trade deadline sends a clear message that the organization doesn’t really believe in Kizer. And that message will be received by the most important audience of all: The locker room.
Quarterbacks need to lead, but not every quarterback is a natural, born leader. Some of them need some help, ideally from their teams.
At a time when Kizer is trying to become a leader, the team is undermining him, either by benching him on a whim or trying to acquire his replacement. But he’ll still be expected to lead, even if the players realize that the team is saying, “Don’t waste your time following him; he won’t be the quarterback for long.”
The Browns have received plenty of criticism in recent weeks for passing on budding franchise quarterbacks like Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson. But the truth may be that, in the Browns organization as currently constituted from ownership down to the coaching staff, no quarterback is going to thrive, because the dysfunction is simply too pervasive to give any quarterback the support he needs to become the player, and the leader, he needs to be.