CLEVELAND -- Learning is the key to success in any venture, especially at the professional ranks in athletics.
Less than a month into his NFL career, Cleveland Browns rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer was doing what he could to accelerate the learning curve as he transitions from starter at the University of Notre Dame to professional football player.
“With that, it allows me to start my learning curve a little faster,” Kizer said of the one-on-one interaction with Browns coach Hue Jackson.
“When you have the guy who is calling the plays, the guy who has created this offense and he knows the language inside and out, teaching your everyday fundamentals, it definitely pushes you a little quicker than if it was someone else who has to then go through him. I’m at the top of the command in terms of the guys who are coaching me, so it is going to allow me to get out there and compete a little faster than otherwise.”
In addition to learning from Jackson, Kizer paid close attention to how veteran quarterbacks Brock Osweiler, Cody Kessler and Kevin Hogan prepare every day for practice and the season.
“They all have some experience themselves out there playing, so I’m just trying to figure it all out,” Kizer said. “A guy like Brock in particular, someone who has taken two teams to playoffs and understands what it takes to win.
Obviously, he has been behind one of the greatest to play the game (Peyton Manning), so some of the small things that he does in practice, I’m just sitting here looking, watching and learning from and trying to incorporate that into my game, as well.”
In his two years as a starter at Notre Dame, the 6-foot-4, 230-pound Kizer completed 423 of his 696 attempts for 5,809 yards and 47 touchdowns against 19 interceptions.
Pressed into service because of an injury to Malik Zaire during the 2015 season, Kizer completed 211 of his 335 attempts for 2,884 yards and 21 touchdowns against 10 interceptions over 13 games with the Fighting Irish.
On the way to a 4-8 record during the 2016 season, Kizer battled through coaching issues to complete 212 of his 361 attempts for 2,925 yards and 26 touchdowns against nine interceptions despite being sacked 25 times behind the Fighting Irish’s struggling offensive line.
Through his prior experiences, Kizer has found that experience is the greatest teacher of all, whether it is through successful execution of plans or as a result of mistakes. And because of that, Kizer knows true value comes from hard work in practice.
“If you can go out and maximize practice, then you can maximize a game at a level that everyone wants you to,” Kizer said. “As far as throwing interceptions, that is a part of it. I’m still trying to figure this thing out. We were in a blitz period, and they were sending a couple different looks at me and I forced a ball I shouldn’t have forced.
“I will go back, watch film and I bet you won’t see that same pick ever again. That is part of the growing process, and I look forward to continuing to compete with him and continuing to have Coach Williams throw the kitchen sink at us and figure out how I can combat that so that when it comes time to go out there one day, hopefully, I have the right tools to be successful.”