DeShone Kizer spent the Browns’ Week 6 loss to the Texans on the sideline after he was benched for Kevin Hogan. But Kizer is back to starter status this week against the Tennessee Titans, head coach Hue Jackson announced Wednesday.
“I think when you see some of the things that have happened to you in games and you can see it happening with somebody else that hurts your football team, you understand … the turnovers are putting the team at risk,” Jackson said. “When there is a chance, an opportunity to score points and here comes a turnover coming the other way, when sometimes the accuracy — you miss a ball, you throw it a little high, or a little low, or whatever all those things are — that it stops drives, and it doesn’t give your offensive football team the best opportunity to have success.”
Kizer was a raw prospect coming out of Notre Dame, and most draft analysts did not expect him to be a Day 1 starter in the NFL. But after Kizer joined the Browns’ underwhelming stable of quarterbacks, he stood out during the preseason as the best option to start in Cleveland. That’s not saying much.
Cody Kessler, who started eight games for the Browns last year but has been inactive in every game this year, will be Kizer’s backup:
With Kevin Hogan’s rib injury, Hue Jackson says QB Cody Kessler will be our backup QB this week. #TENvsCLE— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) October 18, 2017
It’s been an up-and-down rookie season for Kizer, who is still developing. He’s thrown for 851 yards, three touchdowns, and nine interceptions over five starts this season.
Why didn’t Kizer start last week? He was pulled in Cleveland’s Week 5 loss to the Jets. Hogan replaced him after Kizer completed eight of 17 passes for 87 yards and no touchdowns, plus a costly interception and a red zone fumble. Then Jackson named Hogan the starter for Week 6 against the Texans.
Yes, Kizer is still developing. But Jackson has gone 1-21 since taking over in Cleveland, and he doesn’t have the luxury of waiting for Kizer to be fully ready.
"Kizer is developing, but his job is still to win,” Jackson said after the Jets game. "That is first and foremost. I didn't think it was going in the right direction. That is why I made the decision to take him out. If that was the case and it was just about development, I would have just left him in.
“It is not about that. It is about winning.”
Maybe the Titans aren’t the worst team for Kizer to get some quality experience against. The pass defense is ranked No. 21 in the league and allowing 235 yards per game, and the Titans are giving up a whopping 28.4 points per game.
Is Kizer really the Browns’ best option at QB? Here’s the thing about the Browns: This season, like last season and the season before it, they’re not very good. And a lot of that has to do with ongoing instability at the quarterback position.
Last week, I wrote that starting Hogan was the way to go. Let Kizer take his time and develop. Don’t put him under the pressure of being The Guy who’s expected to carry a bad team as a rookie. Then Hogan threw for 140 yards and tossed three first-half interceptions, including one of the easiest pick-sixes you’ll ever see.
There maybe just isn’t a great option in Cleveland right now.
Starting Kizer will give him valuable game experience. It will also give the Browns an idea of his true potential and ceiling before they have to decide whether they’ll address the quarterback position this offseason yet again.