CLEVELAND -- Cleveland Browns coach Hue Jackson benched starting quarterback DeShone Kizer at halftime and watched as Kevin Hogan engineered two touchdown drives in Sunday’s 17-14 loss to the New York Jets at FirstEnergy Stadium.
Despite pulling Kizer after a turnover-laden first half, Jackson “still believes that” the former Notre Dame standout can be the type of player that can be a franchise quarterback for the Browns.
“That hasn’t changed,” Jackson said. “I am not backing off of that. We started this with everybody in this room saying, ‘Hey, Hue, he might not play as well at times.’ That is what this is, so I don’t think anybody should be surprised by it. This was going to happen.”
Against the Jets, Kizer completed just eight of his 17 passes for 87 yards in the first half along with the fumble and interception. Not only did the turnovers come in the red zone, but also, in goal-to-go situations.
On the season, Kizer has completed 81 of his 157 attempts (50.94 percent) for 851 yards with three touchdowns and nine interceptions, and Sunday marked his fourth straight performance with less than a 50-percent completion rate.
“If you don’t turn the ball over, we have a chance to win,” Jackson said. “If you turn the ball over, you don’t have a chance to win. I have to do a great job with the football team. It is not just about him because I am also responsible for 53 other guys and maybe more than that, however many are over there, that I am responsible for making sure they understand that we are trying to win.
“We talked about development the other day. It is not just about development. It is about winning. Winning is first and foremost. Development is second because that is our job. That is what we do, develop players, but it is all about winning.”
Over the first 15 minutes of play, the Browns had 61 yards of total offense and mounted a late-quarter drive that travelled 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 out to the New York 14-yard line for a 12-yard gain.
“Some guys handle it extremely well,” Jackson said. “Some guys hit divots as they go. Some guys rise above it. That is okay. All of it is going to happen in a guy’s first year. I don’t look at what has happened to him as, ‘Oh man, he has regressed’ or ‘he is not doing this’ or ‘he is not doing that.’
“I don’t see that. I see a young man who is going through the process of trying to become a good quarterback in this league with a young football team. He is trying to help carry it, and that is tough. That is just part of it.”
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