BEREA (92.3 The Fan) – It wouldn’t be a Browns season without a quarterback controversy.
Head coach Hue Jackson has not decided who he will start at quarterback against the Texans Sunday in Houston after benching rookie DeShone Kizer in favor of backup Kevin Hogan for the second half of their 17-14 loss to the New York Jets.
“I will let you know,” Jackson said Monday afternoon. “I am going to take some time, continue to look at the tape and make a decision which I think is best for our football team.”
Jackson will make the announcement Wednesday.
Kizer struggled Sunday in the first half accounting for a pair a turnovers in the red zone – an interception and a fumble on an option play – while completing 8 of 17 passes for 87 yards. Despite dominating the Jets in the box score, the Browns still trailed 3-0.
Kizer is ranked last in the NFL in passer rating (49.5), completion percentage (50.9) and yards per attempt (5.35). He has an NFL-high 9 interceptions. He’s fumbled 3 times and lost 2. Of the 11 turnovers – 5 have come in the red zone.
“When you get in the scoring zone, things get compacted a little bit so maybe we are not seeing some things we need to see down there as clearly as we need to,” Jackson said. “There are some other throws that he made that were outstanding in certain situations, but down there, let’s just be honest, that is where these things have reared their ugly head. It has been for several games so obviously, we are not seeing it as well as we need to.”
Jackson isn’t wavering from his belief that Kizer will become a franchise quarterback.
“I still believe that. That hasn’t changed. I am not backing off of that,” Jackson said.
The decision to bench Kizer Sunday came with a need to win in mind considering the team is now 1-20 since Jackson took over in 2016.
“We talked about development the other day. It is not just about development,” Jackson said. “It is about winning. Winning is first and foremost. Development is second because that is our job. That is what we do, develop players, but it is all about winning.”
Hogan provided a spark in the second half as he accounted for a pair of touchdown drives that included TD throws – a 21-yarder to rookie tight end David Njoku who made a 1-handed catch as he fell into the end zone and a 41-yarder to running back Duke Johnson on a screen pass.
Hogan finished the day completing 16 of 19 passes for 194 yards with an interception and it sounded like he’ll get another shot Sunday – this time as a starter.
“My decision is what is best for the team, what is best for our team to put us in position to win, also, what is best for DeShone,” Jackson said. “It’s not just for the team, but what is best for him just so that he can feel like, ‘OK, I am moving further along in this process, and I’m understanding what I need to do to be better.’ All of that will go into my decision.”
Kicking Themselves – Jackson is undecided if he will audition kicker this week after rookie Zane Gonzalez missed a pair of field goals – from 52 and 39 yards, both were wide left.
“Gonzo knows he’s gotta make those kicks,” Jackson said. “He has an accountability with his teammates. We stick him out there [because] we think he can make them so he needs to go make them.”
Gonzalez, who was selected in the seventh round of the draft this year and has made just 2 of 5 field goal attempts, was given the kicking job after beating out veteran Cody Parkey. Parkey is 5-5 on field goals but 2-4 on PATs since being signed by the Miami Dolphins this season.
Sore Myles – Myles Garrett did not re-injure his right ankle Sunday according to the team but that doesn’t mean the top overall pick is completely recovered from the high ankle sprain suffered on Sept. 6.
“He was a little sore,” Jackson said of how Garrett felt Monday. “It was great to have him out there. What a tremendous play on the first play and the other sack he made. He gave us some juice and gave us a lift. He was a part of the defense that I thought played well. We have to continue to get him to that next level where he can play longer.”
Garrett recorded 2 sacks in his NFL regular season debut and the plan is to gradually ramp up his workload in practice and on Sundays as time goes by.
Practice Squad Move – The Browns signed offensive lineman Andrew Wylie to the practice squad and released offensive lineman Travis Averill from the practice squad.
Originally signed by the Indianapolis Colts as an undrafted free agent, Wylie spent all of the preseason with the Colts and was waived during final roster cuts. Wylie was then added to the Colts’ practice squad, which he was a member of for the first three weeks this season before being released on Sept. 26.
Injuries – Linebacker Jamie Collins is completely out of the concussion protocol and he has been cleared to practice this week; linebacker James Burgess suffered a knee injury Sunday.