Cool it with the Kizer rhetoric
Well, that didn’t take long.
First day of Browns training camp in Berea the other day and Hue Jackson is already hoisting DeShone Kizer on a pedestal, telling the media the rookie quarterback is coming along faster than expected.
“Yes he is,” said the coach. “He’s understanding the offense. I could take you back to his days at OTAs. He struggled calling the plays. The words were a lot simpler. The language was different.
“I did not see as much of that (Thursday). That is improvement. Obviously, he made some good throws and did not turn the ball over. Those things are good.”
But then Jackson caught himself and tempered his enthusiasm. “It’s just one day,” he cautioned. “We are not going to make decisions on guys in one day. We have a lot of work to do.”
Observations like that nevertheless send the wrong signal to the media and fans, some of whom view Kizer’s progress already as a sign he could soon move in and take a majority of the first-team reps as a reward.
Jackson and his coaches on offense obviously would love for Kizer to ramp up his progress to the point where they would be comfortable starting him. In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising if he starts one of the four exhibition games, most likely the meaningless fourth.
There is so much, however, for Kizer to learn and be comfortable with in the next six weeks. Transitioning from college to the National Football League is hard enough for any quarterback. But for one who had only two years experience at Notre Dame, the second of which was extremely disappointing, that is asking a lot.
For example, taking the snap from the center with your hands under his hind flanks after taking every collegiate (and probably high school) snap while stationed anywhere from five to seven yards behind the center.
Easy? Not even close. The footwork involved with such a snap is so intricate and important, one false step can blow up a play.
Offense is all about rhythm and timing. Exquisite timing is essential between the offensive line, running backs and wide receivers on every play. If one aspect of a play is not executed properly, that timing is thrown off.
How many times have we heard a coach say after a blown play, “We were so close to making that play.” Close in football is not like horseshoes and hand grenades.
All 11 men have to be in synch. All it takes is one missed assignment – a failure to execute properly – and the result invariably results is negative yardage in the running game or a turnover in the passing game.
It all starts with the quarterback in a pro set taking the snap, either dropping straight back rhythmically or pirouetting and executing the play properly. One of the nuances of that part of that package is the ability to fool the opposition with ball fakes.
Again, it’s all about timing and footwork and that simply cannot be mastered in six weeks.
Quarterbacking in the NFL also requires talent from the neck up as much as, or even more so, than the neck down. Kizer has a wonderful throwing arm. But we don’t where he is at from the neck up. The great ones win from the neck up.
To be fair, Kizer is still a baby when it comes to the NFL. He is barely taking his first steps. To put him under the microscope and comment on everything he does is not fair to him.
His learning curve is huge. So let’s not put him on a pedestal just yet. Let’s not get carried away with the rhetoric that spills out of the coach’s mouth in late July and undoubtedly throughout August. It means nothing until they start playing meaningful games
Let’s not get carried away until there is something worthy of getting carried away about. And right now, Kizer’s development is clearly a work in progress and does not come even close to qualifying.
Save the platitudes until later.