CLEVELAND -- Cleveland Browns rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer went into Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings at Twickenham Stadium in London with the mindset of showing his teammates that he belonged in the starting lineup.
Kizer did just that, and as such, he will remain the Browns’ starting quarterback when the team returns from their bye week to take on the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on Sunday, November 12.
“No doubt, I think DeShone has earned that opportunity to walk back out there again,” Browns coach Hue Jackson said in a conference call Monday. “He did some good things. That was a better version of DeShone, and we need to grow from that and keep getting better.”
Prior to Sunday’s 33-16 loss to the Vikings in the final game of the 2017 NFL International Series, Kizer was benched in each of his previous two starts and sat out a full game in-between.
However, Kizer played a full game and completed 18 of his 34 attempts for 179 yards with no touchdowns and five carries for 18 yards with one score in a 33-16 loss to the Vikings (6-2). More importantly for the Browns, Kizer did not commit a turnover, a first for him this season.
“I think that was a better version of DeShone,” Jackson said. “He played better in this game as far as taking care of the football. There are still some plays that I am sure he wishes he had back, but I thought he did some good things. He put the team in a position early in the first half to have the lead that we had.
“We just have to find a way to finish it, too, in the second half. You have to make those same plays in the second half that you made in the first half, but I thought he did a great job of taking care of the football and being very team-protecting that way.”
The Browns retook a one-score lead over the Vikings on Kizer’s one-yard touchdown run with 40 seconds left to play in the first half. Kizer capped off the eight-play, 80-yard scoring drive with his team-leading third rushing touchdown of the season.
Earlier in the drive, the Browns faced a third-and-13 from their own 15-yard line when Kizer fired a throw down the left sideline for wide receiver Ricardo Louis, who created enough separation from defensive back Xavier Rhodes to secure the 38-yard reception.
Then, on second-and-seven from Minnesota’s 44-yard line, Kizer scrambled around the pocket and evaded the rush of several Vikings before flipping a pass forward to running back Isaiah Crowell. After securing the catch in space, Crowell turned upfield and gained 38 yards, which moved the ball to Minnesota’s six-yard line.
“He is seeing things differently because the game is happening a little bit faster for him,” Jackson said. “He is diagnosing things a little quicker. I have made it a conscious effort, as I said, I want to do everything I can to protect him that way and put him in great situations.”
Now, as the Browns enter the second half of the regular season, Jackson wants to see Kizer’s individual progressions turn into victories for a team that is 1-23 over the last two years.
“Continue to lead this team to victories,” Jackson said, “continue to take care of the football and to be better in the scoring zone and get this team to winning.”
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