CLEVELAND -- When Cleveland Browns coach Hue Jackson named rookie DeShone Kizer the starting quarterback one day after the team’s 13-9 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium, it was not a short-term decision.
After watching Kizer’s progress throughout the offseason program, training camp, and then, the first three games of the preseason, Jackson is ready to ride the wave of emotions that comes with starting a rooking quarterback.
“This is not just for the moment,” Jackson said in a conference call with the Cleveland media.
“We are going to get with DeShone, ride with him through it all and work with him through all of this. You said it, those things are going to happen, and I think we get that. He gets that. We are not going to blink about it. We are just going to correct it and keep moving forward.”
Through the first three games of the preseason, Kizer completed 25 of his 49 attempts for 351 yards and one touchdown against two interceptions. Despite his 51.0 completion percentage, Kizer averaged 7.2 yards per attempt, the best of all Browns quarterbacks this preseason.
In the Browns’ 13-9 win over the Buccaneers Saturday, Kizer completed just six of his 18 throws with an interception, but gained 93 yards through the air.
Kizer’s last two drives against the Buccaneers ended with three and outs and four incompletions in five attempts, but Jackson is confident the issues that led to the offensive struggles at Tampa Bay are correctable.
“There are still some fundamental things he has to work through, but he demonstrates those things in other areas during the game,” Jackson said. “It is just the consistency of playing in the National Football League from play in and play out.
“The pressure of playing 30 plays or 35 plays, whatever it was for him, down in and down out of making the right decisions and doing it right, that is something he is going to grow to. That is why, as I mentioned earlier, he is still a young quarterback but with a lot of talent. He doesn’t have the experience, but the only way he is going to gain that experience is by playing.”
At each step of the preseason, Kizer rose up on the depth chart, and Jackson feels it is “the understanding of defenses, NFL defenses and how they try to do everything they can to dictate games” that led to him going from the third-team quarterback to the starter in just three exhibition games.
“The defense’s No. 1 job is to rattle the quarterback,” Jackson said. “We have to understand how they are trying to attack him and take him out of his game because normally, if you can get the quarterback to not have a very good day, you have a chance to win the game.
“I think he is understanding that teams are game-planning for the quarterback and not so much for the offense, but that is truly for the quarterback.”