CLEVELAND -- Opinions outside of the locker room in the National Football League mean very little to most players, and fortunately, for the Cleveland Browns, quarterback DeShone Kizer is one of those athletes.
Questioned throughout the pre-draft process, even by his former college coach, and now, during the preseason for his ability to lead a football team and have success throwing and running at the NFL level, Kizer is focused on doing what he has to do to lead the Browns to wins rather than doubts expressed on sports talk radio and social media.
“There has been a lot of work that has gone into this entire process,” Kizer said. “Going out and performing in preseason games is one thing, but to perform in [regular season] games is another. Until I’m out there, everyone is going to have a right to their opinion. If that is their opinion, then we will see Week 1.”
The Future is Now: DeShone Kizer set to start for Cleveland Browns
After being named the Browns’ regular-season starting quarterback on Sunday, one day after a 13-9 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Kizer was the subject of much debate on the radio, including one Cleveland-based show in which it was said there was “no way” he could lead the team to seven or more wins this season.
“I can’t tell you what that show is,” Kizer said. “I’m talking about going against Chicago this week and whatever we can do now to prepare ourselves to win another game.
“This is a situation in which I was able to step out here with a great coaching staff, an awesome team around me and develop my game to become a better football player. I can truly say that in these last four months, I feel very confident that I have become a lot better and my development is headed in the right direction.
“Obviously, my next step now is preparing for our fourth preseason game. Whether I am out there or not, I know that these are great reps in preparation for the upcoming season, and obviously, getting ready for Pittsburgh after that.”
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 completing just 51 percent of his passes, Kizer averaged 7.2 yards per attempt, the best of all Browns quarterbacks this preseason.
In the Browns’ 13-9 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium last Saturday night, Kizer completed just six of his 18 throws with an interception, but gained 93 yards and converted multiple first downs through the air.
“We got some momentum,” Kizer said. “The drives are there. The playmakers are there. The way that we are going out, attacking each drive and playing with speed, it is all there.
“We just need to finish. I think this last preseason game, whether it be the ones out there or the twos, it is an opportunity for us on offense to show that we can finish because our defense has played great in these last three games. For us to complement them, we need to put the ball in the end zone.”