DeShone Kizer was named the Browns’ starting quarterback for the season opener against Pittsburgh by coach Hue Jackson, and it really wasn’t up for debate.
The rookie from Notre Dame hit just 6 of 18 passes for 93 yards and an interception, but he was hurt by some dropped passes and a fumble inside the Tampa Bay 20 yard line by Duke Johnson.
Otherwise, he would have put more points on the board and his statistics would’ve looked better.
When it comes down to it, Jackson didn’t have much of a choice.
Training camp started with Cody Kessler as the starter, but the second year man out of USC seems to refuse to do what the coaching staff wants, which is throw the ball downfield occasionally.
He has completed 66.7% of his 27 passes, but only for 145 yards. His 5.4 yards isn’t what Jackson wants out of his QB. Remember, Kessler was benched at halftime in a game the Browns were leading a year ago, because he checked down way too much.
Next, Osweiler had the starting job, but he didn’t put up any points in his time on the field, and if you think 5.4 yards per pass is poor, the former Bronco and Texan signal caller’s three yards per pass makes Kessler look like John Elway.
We truly believe that Jackson didn’t want to start his rookie second round pick in the opener, particularly because it is against the Steelers, but given the performance of the two guys he tried to give the gig to, he didn’t really have a choice.
Kizer is hitting just 51% of his throws, a low total in today’s NFL, but his average yards per pass attempt is 7.2, the best of the four passers on the roster.
One thing you have to remember is the team knows who is the quarterback best equipped to lead them, and if Jackson were to start someone else, he loses credibility in his own locker room.
Our hope is that Jackson doesn’t put the burden of the offense on Kizer. If the Browns are going into games planning to throw the ball 35 times, we can sense a disaster.
Rather, do what the Seahawks did with Russell Wilson as a rookie, do what the Steelers did with Ben Roethlisberger as a first year player. Ease the weight on their shoulders.
Run the ball, play defense, and make it as easy as possible for them to play the most difficult position in professional sports.
As for who backs up Kizer, that’s another quandary for Jackson.
We expect to see a lot of Kevin Hogan on Thursday night against Chicago, because amazingly, he has performed better than both Osweiler and Kessler in the preseason games.
We are sure the coaching staff would like to see him against some second team players instead of guys who will not make teams once the rosters have to be cut to 53 players.
We firmly believe Jackson’s intention was to bring DeShone Kizer along slowly, but the mediocre performance of the more experienced passers forced his hand.
Hopefully, Kizer joins the rookie quarterback success stories rather than the players who were thrown to the wolves early and got devoured.