There was good news and bad news for the Browns Wednesday.
The good news? DeShone Kizer is back as the club’s starting quarterback.
The bad news? DeShone Kizer is back as the club’s starting quarterback.
There is no way the team’s second-round draft choice learned all that much in his one-week “reset” period (OK, it was a benching) after playing bad football in the first five weeks of the season.
Kizer’s one-week reset, as coach Hue Jackson likes to call it, is not going to do the trick. When you get right down to it, the coach really had no other choice after Kevin Hogan dropped a stink bomb in Houston last Sunday to stretch the club’s winless ways this season to six games.
According to Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk, that makes 20 changes in starting quarterbacks by the Browns in the last 43 games, going all the way back to the last five weeks of the 2014 season.
From Brian Hoyer to Kizer, nine different quarterbacks have started a game for Cleveland in that span. That’s roughly a different quarterback every other week. In case you’re wondering, the Browns are 4-39 since defeating the Atlanta Falcons on Nov. 23, 2014.
For the present and immediate future, it sure looks as though Kizer is the man for the next 10 games no matter what happens from here on out, despite Jackson’s cautious approach to what transpires the remainder of the season.
“I’m not going to say the rest of the season,” he said in explaining his decision to bring back Kizer, “ but I know he’s the guy right now. I hope he is. I hope there are no more times we have to take him out and let him reset (there’s that word again) himself.”
There’s a lot of hope in that statement.
Jackson offered no regrets for the reset. “I thought it was the right thing to do,” he said. “In fact, I know it was the right thing to do a week ago. I think we’ll be better for it and I think he’ll be better for it and hopefully we’ll see some growth.”
Sounds like a pep talk.
Jackson did not mention the disappointment he must have felt as he watched Hogan go down in flames in Houston. He most likely did not expect to haul Kizer back into the starting lineup so soon, preferring to give him a few more weeks to settle down (reset?) before returning.
Hogan was dropped to the No. 3 slot behind Kizer and Cody Kessler, who will suit up for the first time this season Sunday against the invading Tennessee Titans. Bruised ribs was the reason given for Hogan’s descent to No. 3.
So now the Browns have a starting quarterback who has nine interceptions in less than five games as a pro and is winless in five National Football League starts, a backup quarterback who is winless in eight NFL starts and a No. 3 quarterback who is winless in one start. What’s that about hope?
Jackson’s latest move is not a knee jerk reaction. It’s recognizing Hogan isn’t even close to being ready to lead a pro offense, so he might as well stick with Kizer and determine once and for all whether the kid can be an honest-to-goodness NFL quarterback.
The next 10 games will answer that question for Jackson and the front office, which, if it is still around at the end of the season, has to determine if Kizer is the man or turns its attention to the strong quarterback class in next year’s college draft.
Kizer said the week off his resetting “definitely sparked my competitive juices. It definitely motivated me throughout the week to make sure I’m doing extra.
“I think the most important thing I got to see from my perspective last week is what the process is and what our process is as a unit and how in this league you have to talk less and do more.”
Huh?! Sounds as though Jackson’s coachspeak is rubbing off on the returning quarterback.
Meanwhile, keep an eye on how Jackson game plans his offense for the Titans’ game Sunday.
Will he dumb down the offense in an effort to ease Kizer back into the flow? Will fans see quick-developing plays that require the ball to be out of Kizer’s hand within three seconds? Will the stretch-the-field approach Jackson favors be shelved? Will he finally ratchet up the running game to take pressure off his young quarterback?
Kizer’s slow – and often times hesitant – pass release in the first five weeks of the season was a major factor in his dismal showings. Refining his ability to quickly recognize and identify opposing defenses and make the necessary adjustments is a key factor.
On numerous occasions this season, Kizer started to throw the ball, then pulled it back and by the time he determined what he wanted to do with it, the rhythm of the play was disturbed enough that he was either sacked, intercepted or he made an ill-advised throw.
He said earlier in the season the game was slowing down for him. That he was having only a little trouble adjusting to the speed and quickness of the game, as opposed to the exhibition season.
That’s a little hard to believe considering how poorly he is making the adjustment to pro ball. He’s trying to make plays when trapped in the backfield that he was able to make at Notre Dame. That doesn’t work in the NFL, where the players are faster, quicker and a whole lot smarter than in college.
He still looks uncomfortable under center in the pro set, a formation that has proved much more successful in the ground game than either the pistol or shotgun formations. It’s an adjustment he has to make.
So get ready, Browns, fans, for more of the same with No. 7 in charge of the huddle. The highs will be sparingly high and the lows will be alarmingly low.
If you think the road has been bumpy so far, buckle up for what very well could be an even bumpier ride right through to New Year’s Eve day in Pittsburgh.