BEREA (92.3 The Fan) – Joe Thomas raised a few eyebrows this week when he said that rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer isn’t ready to start for the Browns.
At least outside of 76 Lou Groza Boulevard.
But Head coach Hue Jackson has a plan for Kizer. He’s had it from the moment they sent in the card to pick him 52nd overall in the draft and Jackson refuses to deviate from it regardless of internal or external pressure to do so.
“It is the raising of a quarterback,” Jackson said. “I don’t think you do things too soon. I think he has to earn the right if he can, and if he can’t, that’s OK. We are just going to keep pushing him and putting him in the right environment to keep getting him where he needs to be.”
After Kizer’s preseason debut that saw him complete passes of 52 and 45 yards and account for 2 touchdown drives in 5 offensive series in the second half, the bandwagon to have him start Sept. 10 filled up quickly. Phone calls to talk shows, tweets and other social media posts praising Kizer and begging for him to start have been flowing since last Thursday.
“He is talented – we all know that – it is how fast can he grasp all of this and handle it and be able to perform at a high level,” Jackson said.
After 18-plus years of a quarterback merry-go-round, fans understandably are thirsting for a franchise quarterback as much as they are for more than 5 wins in a season. Kizer appears to be the next great hope.
Jackson knows it but hes not going to put the cart before the horse and throw Kizer to the wolves like has happened to so many young quarterbacks before.
“DeShone has done a good job of just walking in here, being very humble and just working through this process with myself and [quarterbacks] coach [David] Lee and the other quarterbacks,” Jackson said. “He has done a good job. He has to keep growing.”
Kizer, who has all the tools – including size and arm strength, will be tested again Monday night against the New York Giants – this time as Jackson’s No. 2 quarterback.
Jackson wants to get him on the field against better competition in the first half, meaning that Brock Osweiler, who will start, may not play 4 series like he did against the Saints so that Kizer can get as many reps in the first half as possible, giving Jackson a better barometer of where the rookie is.
“The biggest thing I took from that game was when I’m out there, I’m comfortable and I’m ripping it, I am very confident,” Kizer said. “When I first stepped in there and things are flying from all different angles, that confidence kind of takes a step back. I need to figure out how to get myself into a position that from the first snap that I step out there and the first rep that I take that I can be as comfortable and as confident as I possibly can be.
“That is only going to come from reps and going out there and getting the experience that some of these other guys already have.”
Some rookies might be offended by a teammate saying they aren’t ready to play, but not Kizer who is willing to take Thomas’ word for it. After all Thomas has already blocked for 18 different starting QBs and he will make it 19 when the season opens against the Steelers.
“He has been in the NFL since I have been in seventh grade so whatever he says is probably pretty accurate,” Kizer said. “Obviously, it is still the same message that I continue to push. The more time you have, the more comfortable you become, the more confident you are throwing the ball, and he is just seconding that statement.”
Kizer isn’t content with his performance against New Orleans – not by a long shot – but he’s also not in a hurry to put himself in harms way by being unprepared for what’s to come on Sundays at 1 p.m.
“The more time I have, the better I will become,” Kizer said. “This, once again, is a process. I’m trying to just dive in, trust in it and understand that the coaches and the front office have a plan.”
And they’re going to stick to it as long as they have Osweiler to bridge the gap.