CLEVELAND -- Cleveland Browns coach Hue Jackson wanted rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer to see the game from a different lens before reinserting him into the starting lineup, and he gave the first-year player six straight quarters on the sideline to do so.
Prior to Wednesday’s practice, the Browns (0-6) announced that Kizer would start against the Tennessee Titans (3-3) at FirstEnergy Stadium Sunday.
The No. 52 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft out of the University of Notre Dame, Kizer started the first five games of the season for the Browns, but was pulled from a 17-14 loss to the New York Jets at FirstEnergy Stadium after struggling through a turnover-plagued first-half and remained on the sideline for last Sunday’s 33-17 loss to the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium in Houston.
Here are four things we need to see from Kizer against the Titans, and moving forward throughout the 2017 season.
BETTER DECISION MAKING
In relief of Kizer, who completed just eight of his 17 throws for 87 yards with one interception and one lost fumble, second-year quarterback Kevin Hogan connected on 16 of his 19 attempts for 194 yards with two touchdowns and one interception on a deflection against the Jets.
In the loss to the Jets, Kizer posted a 38.1 quarterback rating in his fourth straight outing with a completion percentage under 50.
In his first five NFL starts, Kizer completed 81 of his 159 attempts (50.9 percent) for 851 yards with three touchdowns against nine interceptions.
Quarterbacks rarely succeed when they take large amounts of heavy hits, and Kizer has struggled, at times, to protect himself against the Browns’ opponents, particularly their AFC North Division foes, the Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals.
Despite completing 20 of his 30 throws for 222 yards with one touchdown, one interception and a rushing score, Kizer was sacked seven times in his NFL regular-season debut, and took several other hits, including a pair that drew personal-foul penalties against the Steelers.
Then, in a Week 2 matchup, Kizer took another two sacks from the Ravens and one in a 31-7 loss to the Bengals.
Throughout the first five starts of his career, Kizer took 12 sacks for 63 lost yards and had a 49.5 quarterback rating.
PROTECT THE BALL
Kizer has thrown nine interceptions through his first five career games, and remains the NFL’s leader in passing turnovers. Kizer has thrown at least one interception in each of his five starts, including three each in losses at the Ravens and Indianapolis Colts.
Over the first 15 minutes of play against the Jets, the Browns had 61 yards of total offense and mounted a late-quarter drive that went 50 yards and into the goal-to-go area. However, Kizer threw an option pitch out of the reach of running back Isaiah Crowell, and the Jets pounced on the loose ball for the fumble recovery at their own three-yard line.
Then, on the interception, Kizer took a shotgun snap from center JC Tretter, rolled to his right and fired a pass toward second-year tight end Seth DeValve. However, Jets safety Marcus Maye jumped the route, corralled the turnover and returned it for a 12-yard gain out to the New York 14-yard line.
By their nature, competitive people do not like seeing someone else to the job they can do or once held, and that applies infinitely more to professional athletes.
Kizer is no different, and after spending six straight quarters on the bench, he needs to be focused on the task of leading the Browns down the field and finishing drives in the end zone.
“It definitely sparked my competitive juices,” Kizer said. “It definitely motivated me throughout the week to make sure that I am doing extra. I think the most important thing that I got to see from my perspective last week is what my process is and what our process is as a unit and how in this league, you have to talk less and do more.”
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