CLEVELAND -- Cleveland Browns coach Hue Jackson has had to start rookie quarterbacks in the past, and he had no qualms about naming first-year signal-caller DeShone Kizer the starter following the team’s third preseason game Saturday night.
According to Jackson, there was no hesitation in making the decision that will impact the Browns greatly as they head into tonight’s preseason finale at the Chicago Bears, as well as the regular-season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers at FirstEnergy Stadium on Sunday, September 10.
“I have been down this road before,” Jackson said. “I didn’t make a decision to make him the quarterback because I had fear in it or I didn’t know how it was going to unfold. I have a vision for it.
“It might not go that way. If it does, great. If it doesn’t, we will keep working through it. I probably felt better about this one and making this decision than some in the past because I think the guy can do it. I really do.”
Kizer began training camp as the third-string quarterback, but rose up the depth chart quickly, and in three weeks’ time, earned the starting job.
“Will it be hard? Yeah, it is going to be hard,” Jackson cautioned. “It is going to take a lot of work on his part, my part, our staff’s part, the rest of the team because everybody is involved in this. It is not just me and him.
“Everybody has to do their part in order for this young man to have success. I think we all get it. I think his teammates get it. I think he gets it. I think the coaching staff does. We have to make this right.”
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.
And the focus for Jackson moving forward is making sure that Kizer is ready to lead the Browns to victories in the regular season.
“My goal is whoever is playing quarterback for us, let’s get him to play as well as he can play and give our team the best chance to win,” Jackson said. “That is the quarterback’s job, goal and his role, but like I said, I think we all get it in this building.
“We are going to make this happen. We are going to work through this because I think he is talented. I think this guy has the right stuff, and I think if I am worth my salt as a coach, I will get it out of him. And I think if he is willing to do the work, he will rise to the occasion and I think he will.”
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