BEREA (92.3 The Fan) – Contrary to popular belief following a failed trade with Cincinnati for backup quarterback AJ McCarron, Hue Jackson hasn’t lost faith in rookie DeShone Kizer.
Quite the contrary according to the Browns’ head coach.
“I think this guy is going to be a really good player in time, but there is work to be done,” Jackson said. “We all want the instant success, but it is going to take a little bit of team because I think it is not just him. I think the whole offensive team has to do their part, too, but does he have to play better? Yes, he does.”
Jackson doesn’t like that his pursuit of McCarron is viewed as a slight on Kizer or a sign that he isn’t committed to developing the second round pick out of Notre Dame.
“I don’t think that is fair,” Jackson said. “My job as a head coach is to always push for better talent on this football team. I don’t care what position it is, especially being in that position. You are talking about a young player in the National Football League who has had  starts, compared to other players who have either played for me or players that I have seen that have done it week in and week out.
“I don’t think that is a knock on DeShone. My job is to help build this football team and build the future of this team. I still believe he is going to be in the future of this team, but in the meantime, if there is a way for us to get better – I know everybody keeps talking about winning, which is very important to me, very important in that locker room and very important to our fans – then I think it is only fair to be always looking to become better.”
Jackson has benched Kizer twice due to performance, once more because a game got out of hand and they were being blown out by Cincinnati in the fourth quarter and Kizer didn’t start in Houston. The 33-16 loss to the Vikings Oct. 29 in London marked the first time that Kizer played all 4 quarters in a game since a Week 3 loss at Indianapolis.
“That is part of growth of a quarterback,” Jackson said. “If a guy is not getting the job done, I don’t care what position it is; you have to put somebody else in, and hopefully, they will learn and grow from that and get better. I think he has done that. I think he gets it. I think the message, which is loud and clear of what we are attempting to do, that is not a knock on him. That is just part of it.”
Kizer also hasn’t thrown a TD pass since the Colts game either.
Kizer has completed 52.1 percent of his passes for 1,144 yards with just 3 touchdowns and a tied for NFL-worst 11 interceptions in 7 starts this season.
With 8 games left on the schedule, Jackson is hopeful Kizer can show everyone the promise he sees in the 21-year old, starting Sunday in Detroit against the Lions.
“It is our first game after the bye so he needs to go establish the kind of quarterback he wants to be the second half of the season,” Jackson said.
Get Away – Because points have been a precious commodity with the Browns ranked 31st in the league averaging 14.9 points per game, a lot of attention has been focused on rookie kicker Zane Gonzalez coming off of the bye. Gonzalez missed a 35 yard field goal and PAT in the 33-16 loss to the Vikings in London causing questions about his job security to arise.
The Browns have elected to stick with Gonzalez, who has made 7 of 11 field goal tries this season, and special teams coordinator Chris Tabor thinks that just having a week off will help Gonzalez more than analyzing the missed kicks.
“He got away for the bye week, and I think that is good,” Tabor said. “I think there is a time when a guy gets out of college, prepares for the combine, wins a kicking job and then he gets into the stressors of the season, sometimes he just needs to get away. He knows he needs to perform better, and we expect him to perform better. He needs to play well these last eight games.
“It is going to be tougher now, too because the weather is changing. Obviously, we will be indoors for this one so that will be good. We just looked at his kicks. Sometimes believe it or not, you can overthink things, you can over-analyze things and you can become paralyzed by that. Sometimes you just need to get out there and perform. He needs to do that.”
Full Strength –The Browns are the healthiest they’ve been in weeks coming off of their bye. Only defensive lineman Larry Ogunjobi is questionable for Sunday’s game in Detroit with a groin injury. The remaining 7 players listed on this week’s injury report were all full participants in Friday’s walk-thru and are expected to play.
The last time the Browns were this healthy on defense they got lit up for 24 points in a 33-17 loss at Houston on Oct. 15, but they also scored a TD on a Jason McCourty pick-6.
Injury Report – QUESTIONABLE: DL Larry Ogunjobi (groin); EXPECTED TO PLAY: WR Kenny Britt (knee), CB Briean Boddy-Calhoun (hamstring), DL Trevon Coley (neck), CB Jason McCourty (ankle), S Jabrill Peppers (toe), LB Jamie Collins (shoulder), CB Jamar Taylor (ribs).