The Browns have struggled, and that might be putting it too mildly. Their rough start to the season can be traced back to quarterback play, as is the case for most NFL teams. The Browns wanted to ride with second-round pick DeShone Kizer, but he’s now been benched twice in three games, after throwing 11 interceptions in six games, completing 52 percent of his passes.
After another tough loss on Sunday at home vs. the Titans, video emerged of the young rookie out late Friday night into Saturday morning, at a bar, presumably drinking. Not surprisingly, when head coach Hue Jackson was asked about his young starting quarterback out that late only a few days before the game, he wasn’t excited about it. Originally Kizer deflected any criticism, but eventually apologized for being out that late.
There’s so much to unpack in this situation. Let’s start with the weekly schedule for NFL players. They should help clear up the notion that Kizer was out of line “partying” on Friday night.
The game is Sunday, at various times, and locations. The old NFL schedule, that every team followed, was Monday in the facility, film review, meet with doctors, rehab, lift, recovery, etc. Tuesday is the off day. It’s completely off but players often use that time to rehab and recover. Tuesday is also errand and appointment day. That’s the day if you needed to get anything done that week. Some teams have switched Monday and Tuesday, but those days are generally reserved for rehab, recovery, family time, charity events, and prepping for next week.
Wednesday and Thursday are heavily focused on game plan and prep. We work from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., generally, and install the game plan these days. Runs, passes, situational football, special teams, it all goes in on Wednesday and Thursday.
Friday and Saturday are one of two days, and it depends on the team. “Old school” teams use Friday as a short practice day, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., a practice called fast Friday. It’s a crisp practice, not much contact, and it’s to review and tighten up the playbook. The sport science teams use Friday as a recovery day, with a long walk-through what resembles a practice.
The teams who practice on Friday use Saturday as a walk-through day. Short meetings, and just a walk-through of situations before going home or heading to the airport. The “new school” teams use Saturday as a short practice day, which is supposed to prep the nervous system for Sunday. The practice is non-contact and about 80 percent speed and, again, it’s a review day. Then they play on Sunday.
Since the bulk of the game plan was installed Wednesday and Thursday with Friday being used as a review day, I always mentally felt prepared after practice on Friday to play on Sunday. There were things I still did on Saturday to help me play, but if I felt I needed Saturday to get mentally and physically ready, then I didn’t do my job during the week.
Friday night was date night, blow off steam night, movie night, etc. I went on a date with my wife almost every Friday night. I’m boring, so I was home in bed by 10 p.m., but I knew my teammates were going out. And as is generally the case with anything that happens off the field, no one in the facility cares if you play well on Sunday.
Kizer’s biggest struggles have been with ball placement, not being out at a bar on Friday night.
This guy is open. This is the right read for Kizer. The play fake does nothing to the safeties but the WR is able to get open vs. two-man and Kizer just over throws the WR.
Ball placement is something all the Browns quarterbacks are having problems with this season. In the fourth quarter against the Titans, Cody Kessler sailed a ball over the tight end’s head and into the arms of the Titans safety.
In Week 6 against the Texans, Kevin Hogan was trying to complete a routine check down to the running back back when he put it over the back’s head and into the hands of a waiting defender who cashed in for six.
At times, Kizer knows where to go with the ball, it’s just thrown late with no anticipation. Every young quarterback has these issues, and drinking on a Friday doesn’t make them worse.
This is a simple rollout for the Browns. The Jets know it’s coming and they know the routes that are coming as well. There are only a few options for routes in a rollout. Kizer is super late with the ball and a defender jets underneath for the interception.
I notice Kizer is often late with the ball, and the defenders run the routes for the wide receivers, which isn’t ideal. That shows me the Browns are running a very simple offense with Kizer at the helm.
Circling back to Kizer and his actions on Friday night and Saturday morning, is he wrong for being out? No. Is Kizer wrong for having some drinks on a Friday night? No. He could have sat home and gotten drunk, and y’all would have had no idea.
However, this is an optics issue and a good lesson for Kizer. He’s the franchise quarterback and wherever he goes people will be taking photos and videos, especially after Johnny Manziel.
When you’re not playing well, people and the coaching staff will find ways to blame the poor play on anything possible. This is that excuse for Kizer and the Browns. To me, this excuse isn’t valid, but that doesn’t matter in the court of public opinion.