CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – DeShone Kizer’s deep throws that set up 1 touchdown and led to the game-winner have everyone abuzz.
And rightfully so.
Kizer’s performance Thursday night basically threw kerosene on the Browns annual QB competition bonfire, setting the debate ablaze once again much to the chagrin of head coach Hue Jackson.
Jackson did his best to douse the flames with a cold bucket of coach-speak reality.
“I am sure he is in the locker room excited, but he will be the first to tell you, there are so many other things to clean up,” Jackson said. He probably would tell you it should have been two more long balls for big plays. He has a lot of work to do.”
Kizer, who finished 11 of 18 for 184 yards and a touchdown, was by far the most productive quarterback of the night leading a pair of TD drives and a fourth-quarter comeback after the Browns fell behind 14-7.
After the game Jackson didn’t seem anxious to elevate him up the depth chart to start the second preseason game just yet.
“I think it is way too early to talk about that,” Jackson said. “Let’s see it for what it was. The guy made some plays at the end that gave us a chance to win, but there is still so much growth that needs to happen for this young player.
“We all know he is talented, as I said before, but there are still some things he needs to do better.”
Kizer, who was also sacked 3 times in the second half, doesn’t plan on pleading his case, at least he didn’t Thursday night after the win.
“That is something for coach Jackson,” Kizer said. “He understands the situation a lot better than I ever will. I know that I can trust in him to make sure that this developmental process goes in the right direction and continues to move forward the way we want it to.
“It is my job once again to just step up there when the reps are given to me and to maximize them to the best of my ability. Whether it be against the threes, against the ones or in a training camp practice or off of a card, it is my job to make sure I can go out there and play to the best of my ability whenever they call my name.”
He did just that.
Now Jackson and the Browns have 10 days until they host the New York Giants on Aug. 21.
That time will be used either to prepare Kizer or get Brock Osweiler more time with the starters after he impressed nobody in his 4 offensive series that saw him finish 6 of 14 for 42 yards and a 50.3 rating.
“I’ll watch the tape,” Jackson said. “There were some things that he did well and there are some things that he didn’t do as well, so we’ll watch it make the corrections that we need to make and then go from there. That’s what you do you.
“I wasn’t expecting perfection tonight. I was expecting our team to compete and have an opportunity to win the game. That is what we did.”
While Osweiler missed badly on a pair of deep balls – one to receiver Ricardo Louis, the other to tight end Seth DeValve – Kizer’s 2 most impressive throws of the night were deep balls that led to scores.
The first was a 52-yarder to Richard Mullaney that set up a 1-yard TD run by Terrance Magee to cut the deficit to 14-13 with 12:33 left in the fourth quarter. The second, a 45-yard strike to receiver Jordan Payton for what would be the game-winning touchdown with 1:52 to play.
“Hopefully, there are a lot of other things other than the long ball that got me here, but I am pretty confident in extending the ball down the field,” Kizer said. “That was one thing that I was excited about when being drafted to the Browns is that Coach Jackson likes to push the ball vertically. If you can establish a good run game, then there is going to be some good play-action pass to throw the ball deep and that is what we were able to do today.”
The winning bomb came on a fourth-and-2 and after Kizer recognized 1-on-1 coverage outside against Payton so he checked out of the run-option Jackson gave him and let it rip in the face of a blitz.
“We had a run play dialed up that we knew we were going to be able to grab at least 2 yards on so it is up to me to just make sure that I get the look, identify what the defense is and make sure that we are calling the right play out there and put the ball up in the right spot so that someone else can go up and make a play,” Kizer said.
For those that wanted Thursday night to end with a quarterback debate, Kizer made sure that you’ve got one now.