CLEVELAND -- Cleveland Browns coach Hue Jackson twice benched rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer during the first half of the 2017 season, but he had a much different feeling following a 38-24 loss to the Detroit Lions at Ford Field in Detroit Sunday.
Kizer showed so much improvement that Jackson took full responsibility for the mistakes with the rookie under center, including an interception late in the fourth quarter, as well as a mismanaged drive at the end of the first half which resulted in no points and the clock expiring inside the five-yard line.
“I thought DeShone played probably the best game that he’s played,” Jackson said. “That interception at the end, anything that happened, whether it’s the end of the half, all that’s on me. It’s not on him. I’ve just got to continue getting this offense better, continue getting this group better. Anything that went wrong, I totally take responsibility for it.”
Kizer exited Sunday’s game against the Lions after the second-to-last play of the third quarter.
Kizer was listed as “questionable” to return to the game because of a rib injury, but came back midway through the fourth quarter.
On second-and-11 from Cleveland’s 24-yard line, Kizer dropped back in the shotgun formation and threw an incomplete pass to wide receiver Ricardo Louis on the left side of the field. Kizer was hit on the play by third-year cornerback Quandre Diggs and immediately clutched the ribs on his right side.
Despite the Browns having plenty of players in for protection, Kizer was hit when tight end David Njoku missed a block, and that allowed the hit to take place.
Prior to the injury, Kizer went 15 for 24 with 178 yards and one touchdown against no interceptions.
“He came back and played, so I think he’ll be fine,” Jackson said. “The X-rays were negative.”
Including the time after his return from the rib injury, Kizer completed 21 of his 37 attempts for 232 yards with one touchdown, one interception, as well as one rushing touchdown and 57 yards on seven carries.
“I’ve never questioned his toughness or his want-to,” Jackson said. “DeShone has that. I saw a guy that was competing and playing quarterback. I knew what that position looked like. For the majority of that game, that’s what the quarterback’s got to do. Whether that’s with his arm, with his legs, he did that. He was firing up the offense, the defense and the special teams.
“He was in the game. The lessons and the conversations that we’ve had, they’re catching on. To me, that’s a good sign. He’s a young player, a young player that’s working at this and trying to get better, but I saw a better version of him. Is it perfect? No. Do we have things we’ve got to continue to work at and fix? Yeah, but I see a guy that’s starting to get it, and that’s huge.”
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