CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – Hue Jackson won’t name DeShone Kizer the starting quarterback for the season officially, but it is pretty much a done deal.
Jackson didn’t necessarily put the issue “to bed” as he said he needed to Monday night following their 10-6 win over the Giants, but it’s close.
“Well, it is in the bed. It is definitely in the bed with me so I am very close to putting it to bed,” Jackson said drawing laughs from reporters. “Again, a lot of things can happen over the next several weeks. You just never know, but I feel good about the covers that are on top of me right now. We are doing well.”
Jackson will start Kizer Saturday night at Tampa Bay, their third preseason game which is often referred to as the ‘dress rehearsal’ for the regular season, pushing the 21-year old into the driver’s seat to face the Steelers come September 10.
“He gives us the potential to do a lot of different things with our offensive football team,” Jackson said after Wednesday’s practice. “He has really grown over the last month.”
Through 2 preseason games Kizer has worked his way up the depth chart from the No. 3 against the Saints on Aug. 10 to No. 2 Monday night against the Giants, and now the starter for the Buccaneers.
“He keeps passing every test, and there is still another one to pass,” Jackson said. “Here we come this Saturday night against a good defensive football team in Tampa on the road and in the heat. There are a lot of different elements he is going to have to deal with. Again, here is another opportunity, but he has been knocking down everything I have put before him so here we are.”
Kizer has completed 19 of 31 passes for 258 yards and a touchdown while adding 47 yards and a score on the ground in 9 offensive series that have resulted in 4 scoring drives through 2 preseason games.
He’ll have to essentially be a complete disaster Saturday night for Jackson to not stick with him to start the regular season.
“In my mind, this young man is going to go play extremely well,” Jackson said. “My job is to help him do that and create the right environment for him to go and do that with the rest of the offensive football team. There is nothing in my mind that says he is not going to do well. I expect him to do well, our organization expects him to do well and his teammates expect him to do well.”
Kizer is expected to have as close to a full supporting cast as possible Saturday night with running back Isaiah Crowell returning from a groin injury that kept him out Monday and left tackle Joe Thomas, who got the first 2 preseason games off, will play.
The odd man out is now Brock Osweiler, who was acquired in March from Houston and was an afterthought in the press release that highlighted the 2018 second round pick from the Texans in that trade. He could be on the move again.
The veteran will not play Saturday night.
“I have told him that, that I want to give these young guys a shot and let them play,” Jackson said. “When I’m talking about young guys, I’m talking about DeShone, Cody (Kessler) and Kevin (Hogan). I want them to play, and that has been explained to him.”
It makes sense considering the direction the organization continues to take and that is to develop their younger players by playing them. Putting Osweiler on the field Saturday night, if he’s already been ruled out as the opening day starter which it appears that he has, would make no sense, and frankly, be a waste of everybody’s time.
Osweiler has impressed no one in the 6 offensive series he’s received as the starter for the first 2 games. None of the drives have resulted in points and he’s thrown for just 67 yards while completing 12 of 22 passes with an interception.
Jackson did his best to at least give the appearance that Osweiler is still in the team’s plans but it’s hard to believe.
“No one has said to Brock that Brock, ‘You might not play here’ or ‘You wouldn’t be the quarterback here.’ That is not what was said just so we can all be clear about that,” Jackson said.
And if there was any question as to who made the decision to go with Kizer over Osweiler, Jackson cleared that up to.
“It is my decision,” Jackson said.