With the Cleveland Browns struggling once again this season, and rookie QB DeShone Kizer playing like, well, a rookie, another tradition has surfaced among fans and media alike.
That would be bringing up all of the quarterbacks the franchise has passed on in recent history.
However, no one is taking into account the circumstances that Kizer is dealing with to date.
When Kizer was named the starter in the pre-season, we (and just about everyone else) assumed Hue Jackson would protect the youngster, emphasizing the running game and the defense.
Only four teams right now have averaged less rushing attempts per game this season, and outside of Green Bay (3-1), the other three teams have combined for one win (by Miami) on the season.
Now, there are those who say because those teams are losing, they have to throw the football, but the teams who have accumulated the most rushing yards on the season right now are Jacksonville (a surprising 2-2), Denver (3-1), Philadelphia (3-1), Houston (2-2), and Tennessee (2-2).
What do all of those teams have in common? They all are playing relatively young quarterbacks, including two that the Browns passed up on, Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson.
It’s almost as if a good recipe to win with a young quarterback is to run the football.
Would you be surprised if we told you Cleveland averages more yards per carry as a team than the Steelers, Bengals, or Packers? Well, they do, which makes it more curious as to why Jackson seems to give up on the run so easily.
Even Mike Pettine knew not to give up on the run.
Remember Pettine’s first game as head coach? The Browns trailed the Pittsburgh 27-3 at halftime, but instead of throwing the football all over Heinz Field, he stuck with the run, using 13 running plays in a third quarter where his team cut the lead to 27-17.
It can be done.
The lack of commitment to the running game is also hurting the defense. The Browns had the ball for 31 minutes in the opening day three point loss to Pittsburgh.
That number dropped to 26 minutes in the week two and three losses to Baltimore and Indianapolis, and reached a season low 24 minutes in Sunday’s defeat by the Bengals.
It’s not like the passing game is working either. Cleveland’s average yards per pass attempt of 5.0 ranks 29th in the NFL. And, of course, the nine interceptions thrown by Browns’ passers is three more than any other team in the league.
Jackson’s team has thrown the third most passes in the NFL, behind just Arizona and the New York Giants and tied with Green Bay. Those three teams all have veteran signal callers, two of them winning Super Bowls.
If Jackson wants to keep playing Kizer, and he should because once he was named the starter there was no turning back, he needs to protect him.
Commit to running the football even if you fall behind by two touchdowns early. Why not line up in two or three tight end sets, utilizing TEs Seth DeValve and David Njoku in the passing game?
And running the ball would control the clock, keep your defense fresh, and shorten football games. That’s what teams that lack talent should do.
It’s time for the Browns to take care of their rookie quarterback. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like the coaching staff is interested to doing just that.