CLEVELAND -- At 0-7 and in last place in the AFC North Division, Cleveland Browns coach Hue Jackson has plenty of concerns, but the thought of one player’s feelings is not one of them.
Continuously asked if pulling rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer from games, as he did for the second time in Sunday’s 12-9 loss to the Tennessee Titans at FirstEnergy Stadium, would affect the first-year player’s confidence, Jackson did not sugar-coat the situation facing the team.
“We are in the business of winning games,” Jackson said. “This is a performance-based business. If you turn the football over in the National Football League, you cannot play. It is just that simple. Everybody keeps talking about confidence. I am not worried about confidence.
“I have 52 other guys in there to worry about their confidence and trying to win. DeShone was playing really well up until we turned the ball over in the scoring zone. I left DeShone in the game, and here we come second half, we turn the ball over again.”
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During the second half, Jackson benched Kizer mid-game for the second time in three weeks, this time in favor of second-year signal-caller Cody Kessler. Kizer completed 12 of his 20 attempts for 114 yards, but threw two more interceptions and has a league-high 11 passing turnovers in just six starts this season.
In relief, Kessler completed 10 of his 19 throws for 121 yards with one interception.
“I am looking at this game, and this is a close game,” Jackson said. “We can manage and get the ball down the field, and we have a chance to win. I owe it to the other guys in that room. I am not just worried about the quarterback. I know you guys are, but I am not. However you take that, you take it, but my job is to put us and put people out there that give us the best chance to win. That is it.”
In his first six NFL starts, Kizer completed 93 of his 179 attempts (51.9 percent) for 965 yards with three touchdowns against 11 interceptions, and that is why Jackson is not yet rechristening him the Browns’ starter for the remainder of the year.
“I am sure he doesn’t want the yoyo, but it goes both ways,” Jackson said. “Developing quarterbacks, they still have to do what you asked them to do. In that process of developing a quarterback, I want them to not turn the ball over. That is the name of the game. I am going to say it again, it is still about the football team. It is not just about one individual. It is about the team.”
With the Browns preparing for a trip to London to play the Minnesota Vikings at Twickenham Stadium, Jackson said “everything, right now, is on the table.”
“How can it not be?” Jackson said. “I just think I have to. I just think that is only right and only fair. That opens up all kinds of questions. I get all that. I’m not worried about that. Our football team is not as down -- they are disappointed about not winning -- but they are not as hurt as you guys think they are or fractured. We are not.”