Is It a Good Idea for Cleveland Browns to Play Starters in Final Preseason Game Against Chicago Bears?

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | Most people avoid unnecessary risks at all costs. Apparently, Cleveland Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski is not most people.

According to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com, Chudzinski is tentatively planning to let Cleveland's starters see some action in this week's final preseason game versus the Chicago Bears. While I've been on board with Chudzinski on pretty much everything he has done with the Browns during his short tenure as head coach, this is one plan that needs to shelved. It's just not a good idea on so many levels.

It's pretty much an unwritten rule in the NFL that starters do not play in the final preseason game. Typically, these matchups are a showcase for second- and third-stringers to make one last impression on the coaching staff before the final roster cuts prior to the start of the regular season. Flying in the face of this tradition is a high-risk, low-reward proposition should Chudzinski elect to go forth with his plan to play Cleveland's starters against the Bears.

Cleveland's first-team offense could certainly use a boost of confidence after struggling mightily in a 27-6 loss to the Indianapolis Colts on August 24, and letting the starters play the first quarter against Chicago's backups may seem like a good idea on paper.

The problem is, it's a no-win situation for the Browns.

If Cleveland's starters go out and move the ball the way they did earlier this month in victories over the St. Louis Rams and Detroit Lions, they will have done so against a defensive unit made up of players that may not even have a job in the NFL come September 1. Any confidence gained by the Browns' offense would be hollow, at best, since they did what starters are expected to do when they face backups -- move the football.

I shudder at the thought of what chaos might ensue if the Browns' first-team were to struggle against Chicago's second and third units. The Colts game wasn't the way the Browns wanted to cap what has been a decent preseason, but it's still a better way to head into the regular season than the potential nightmare scenario that would be Cleveland's starters being held in check by the Bears' second-string defense.

Then, of course, there is the risk of one of Cleveland's starters getting hurt. The Browns have already had more than their fair share of injuries this preseason, especially on the offensive side of the football. Cleveland is already walking a tightrope with a running back corps and an offensive line that have suffered some heavy losses this month, so the thought of allowing players like Trent Richardson or Joe Thomas to risk getting hurt against Chicago seems like a dubious one to me.

Imagine the ridicule the Browns would be on the wrong end of should someone like Richardson get hurt in the most meaningless game -- it wouldn't be pretty.

Still, the Browns are Chudzinski's team, and if he thinks playing the starters versus the Bears will his team in the long run, I will stand behind him. I just can't say that I agree with coach Chud on this one.

Shaun Heidrick is a Yahoo! Contributor who has followed the Cleveland Browns for 25 years.

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