Cleveland Browns sticking with rookie DeShone Kizer at QB

By The Sports Xchange  |  Oct. 2, 2017 at 6:10 PM
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BEREA, Ohio -- The learning experience has been one of bruises and bumps in the road for Cleveland Browns rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer, and the process is going to continue despite the 0-4 start.

Head coach Hue Jackson made it clear he plans to stick with Kizer despite inserting backup quarterback Kevin Hogan with 6:30 left in the fourth quarter of the 31-7 loss to the Bengals on Sunday. Hogan drove the Browns to their only touchdown -- a 1-yard run by Duke Johnson with 1:54 remaining.

"I thought yesterday (Kizer) played as well as he played all year," Jackson said on Monday. "With the exception of missing a couple of read-IDs (reading the safeties) and protection, he played lights out. He didn't take sacks. He threw the ball away. He didn't have turnovers. So that's improvement. So I want everybody to know regardless of what the numbers are for him, I thought the guy played extremely well."

Kizer completed 16 of 34 passes for 118 yards. He was sacked once and was charged with an interception that bounced off the hands of wide receiver Kenny Britt.

A quarter of the way through the season, Kizer has completed barely 50 percent of his passes -- 73 of 142 for 764 yards (51.4 percent) with three touchdown passes and eight interceptions. He has a 50.9 passer rating.

"You go back in, you learn from the good, you learn from the bad and you continue to try to improve," Kizer said. "The message that I live by is every day is a new opportunity to get better. This is once again another learning experience for us as an offense, and we're going to try to do whatever we can this week to work on our execution so that we can continue to grow."

This was supposed to be the soft part of the Browns schedule. The Browns and Colts were both 0-2 before meeting Sept. 24. The Colts prevailed 31-28. The Browns and Bengals were both 0-3 before Sunday. The Jets, the Browns opponent next Sunday, were 0-2, but since then the Jets have won two straight.

Despite the 0-4 start, Kizer and his teammates believe they can get on the winning track, starting next week.

"There is no sense of my confidence being shaken at all," Kizer said. "You learn from your mistakes. You learn from the good things. You build on them. You do whatever you can to execute the next week."

On the positive side, Kizer has been sacked only four times the last three weeks after being sacked seven times in the opener.

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Second-year defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah had the best game of his young career with six tackles, two forced fumbles, two sacks and a fumble recovery against the Bengals. The way he looked at it, though, a 31-7 loss was no time to focus on himself.

"Everybody hates losing," Ogbah said. "We just have to do a better job of coming together as a team. Working hard, I guess. Something has to happen. Somebody has to make a play, something."

The Browns are 0-4. They were 1-15 last season.

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Wide receiver Kenny Britt led the Browns with three catches for 52 yards and in doing so surpassed 5,000 yards for his career at 5,002. But he also dropped two passes -- one turned into an interception by the Bengals at the Cincinnati 12.

"That kills us and they get the ball and then drive it down there and score," Britt said. "That's even worse. We can't put our defense in that position especially. We got the ball, and we were going to drive it for a touchdown."

Britt has been spotty at best all season, but head coach Hue Jackson has no choice but to play him because other receivers are injured or also affected by dropped passes.

NOTES: LB Dominique Alexander left the game against the Bengals with a knee injury and did not return. He has already been ruled out for the game against the Jets next Sunday. ... LB Jamie Collins remains in the concussion protocol. He has missed two games. ... DE Myles Garrett will practice on Wednesday, head coach Hue Jackson said on Monday. Garrett missed the first four games with an ankle injury. ...WR Jordan Leslie left Sunday's game with a hamstring injury and did not return.

REPORT CARD VS. BENGALS

--PASSING OFFENSE: D - Dropped passes doomed rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer again. The Browns dropped five passes against the Bengals after dropping eight the previous week in a loss to the Colts. Once again, Kizer held onto the ball too long, but a lot of that is because his receivers can't get open. Tight end Seth DeValve has been his most reliable receiver, but DeValve caught only one pass. Kizer was hit eight times. Although he was sacked only once, it is only a matter of time until Kizer doesn't get up.

--RUSHING OFFENSE: C-minus -- This grade should really be an incomplete because the Browns had only 17 running plays. Five of them were by Kizer and at least four of those were on quarterback scrambles. As a group the Browns rushed for just 45 yards. Isaiah Crowell picked up almost a third of that -- 14 yards -- on one run. The Browns fall behind quickly and can't get into a rhythm.

--PASS DEFENSE: D-plus - The Browns gave up four passing touchdowns to the Bengals and now have given up nine for the season. Bengals tight end Tyler Kroft caught six passes -- two of them for touchdowns -- and he is a backup. The Browns sacked Dalton three times, yet Dalton still completed 25 of 30 passes. The Browns cut cornerback Joe Haden just before the season started him and sorely miss him.

--RUSH DEFENSE: B - The run defense has been consistently strong this season and was again on Sunday. The Browns held the Bengals to 86 yards on 30 carries and no rushing touchdowns. The longest carry was by Jeremy Hill for 13 yards. The Browns had success despite defensive tackle Danny Shelton missing the game with a calf injury. Teams don't have to run to succeed against the Browns. Middle linebacker Joe Schobert was busy with 11 tackles.

--SPECIAL TEAMS: C-minus - Usually special teams is a wash, but the Bengals dominated. Adam Jones had a 40-yard punt return. Browns punt returner Jabrill Peppers, meanwhile, returned three punts for 4 yards. Jones' long return set up a touchdown by the Bengals. Peppers did have a 29-yard kickoff return as one of the few highlights of the day for the Browns.

--COACHING: D - The Browns made no adjustments to slow down QB Andy Dalton's passing success. Head coach Hue Jackson can't be blamed for five dropped passes, but one of the biggest culprits all season has been Kenny Britt, yet Britt was targeted eight times in the loss to the Bengals. The challenge for Jackson the rest of the way is going to be holding the team together. Jackson is now 1-19 as the Browns head coach.

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