Cleveland Browns coach Hue Jackson contemplates QB switch from DeShone Kizer

By The Sports Xchange  |  Oct. 9, 2017 at 6:59 PM
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BEREA, Ohio -- Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson is contemplating starting backup quarterback Kevin Hogan against the Texans in Houston after benching rookie DeShone Kizer at halftime of a 17-14 loss to the New York Jets on Sunday.

Hogan put two touchdowns on the board after Kizer turned the ball over twice inside the Jets' 5-yard-line in the first half.

During his press conference Monday, Jackson said he would wait until Wednesday to name a starter against Houston.

"I'm going to take time and look at the tape," he said. "I'll make a decision I think is best for our football team. I'm responsible for 53 guys. Winning is first and foremost. Development is second."

Jackson named Kizer the regular-season starter after Kizer performed well in the third preseason game. At the time he said he would stick with Kizer through the ups and downs of the season, but the 52nd pick in the 2017 draft has struggled each of the last four weeks.

"I look forward to doing whatever I can to get better so I don't have to sit out," Kizer said. "I expect to come back and learn from my mistakes from this game, do whatever I can to become a better player and let those decisions be in the head coach's hands as they always have been."

Kizer has completed 81 of 159 passes (50.9 percent) for 851 yards this season. He has thrown three touchdown passes and nine interceptions.

The Browns are heavily invested in Kizer as their quarterback of the future, but Hogan was clearly more decisive against the Jets. Jackson might decide time on the sideline might help Kizer hit the reset button. The rookie might not have been handed the starting had Brock Osweiler or Cody Kessler done anything in the preseason.

"This guy is a pro football player," Jackson said. "Sometimes young guys, it's not going as well for them and that's my job. Sometimes taking him off and letting him see and breathe a little bit is good."

If Hogan does start in Houston, it would mark 15 consecutive years in which no Browns quarterback has started all 16 games. The last one to do it was Tim Couch in 2002.

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Rookie defensive lineman Myles Garrett made his NFL debut after missing four games with a sprained ankle. He sacked Jets quarterback Josh McCown on his first play when he lined up as a defensive tackle.

"It was just a great call by (defensive coordinator) Gregg (Williams) sending me inside and he jump-set me and I was able to put a move on him and make a play," Garrett said.

Garrett played only 18 snaps. He said his ankle is still sore.

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Running back Isaiah Crowell had his best game of the season with 16 carries for 60 yards, but he advanced only one yard on a fourth-and-2 from the Jets 2 in the fourth quarter.

"They stood up well and we didn't really know where to run to," Crowell said. "I just tried to get behind the linemen and just push, but we didn't get enough yardage."

It was the eighth fourth-down attempt this season and the Browns have been successful five times.

NOTES: LB James Burgess (knee) was injured against the Jets. He will be evaluated as the week progresses, head coach Hue Jackson said on Monday. ... TE David Njoku caught a 21-yard pass from Kevin Hogan for a touchdown and now has three touchdown catches this season. No other Browns receiver has more than one touchdown catch. ... QB Kevin Hogan came off the bench in the second half to complete 16 of 19 passes for 194 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. He had a 122.4 passer rating. ... CB Jason McCourty intercepted a pass, forced a fumble and broke up two passes. He has two picks and two forced fumbles this season. ... LB Jamie Collins (concussion) has been cleared to return to practice, head coach Hue Jackson said Monday. He missed the last three games with a concussion. ... K Zane Gonzalez missed field-goal attempts from 52 and 39 yards. He missed from 48 yards on his final attempt against the Bengals on Oct. 1. Jackson has not ruled out trying out other kickers.

REPORT CARD VS. JETS

--PASSING OFFENSE: F/B - The pass offense gets two grades this week because starter DeShone Kizer struggled so badly in the first half he was benched. He turned the ball over on a pitch to running back Isaiah Crowell and he threw an interception at the Jets 2 on a pass intended for tight end Seth DeValve. He looked unsure of himself completing eight of 17 passes. Kevin Hogan played the second half and looked sure of himself. He threw two touchdown passes and rushed for 30 yards on planned runs. An interception thrown by Hogan led to a Jets touchdown.

--RUSHING OFFENSE: B-minus - The Browns rushed for a season-high 140 yards, but when they needed two yards on fourth-and-2 at the Jets 4, Isaiah Crowell gained only one yard. Quarterbacks Hogan (30 yards) and Kizer (29) combined for a large portion of the success on the ground. That can't continue and have the quarterbacks stay healthy, but Crowell's success between the tackles as he finished with 60 yards rushing was encouraging.

--PASS DEFENSE: C-minus -- Jets quarterback Josh McCown passed for only 194 yards, but he threw two touchdown passes and completed 76.6 percent (23 of 30) of his passes. He directed a 97-yard drive and finished it off with a 24-yard touchdown pass to Jermaine Kearse. Opposing quarterbacks have a 112.5 passer rating against the Browns over five games.

--RUSH DEFENSE: A - The Jets are dealing with injuries, particularly to running back Matt Forte, but the Browns still get an A for holding the Jets to under two yards a carry. They did an excellent job closing up the running lanes while holding the Jets to 34 yards on the ground. Normally, middle linebacker Joe Schobert leads the Browns in tackles, but he made only two on Sunday. End Emmanuel Ogbah, a big part of the run defense, made five tackles.

--SPECIAL TEAMS: D-plus - Kicker Zane Gonzalez missed field-goal tries of 52 and 39 yards. This grade would be lower, but punt returner Jabrill Peppers had his best game of the season by returning three punts for 28 yards with a long of 16. It didn't help the Browns on Sunday, but it could help in future games if he is as bold as he was against the Jets.

--COACHING: C-minus - Head coach Hue Jackson is getting heat in the Cleveland media for going for it on fourth-and-2 from the Jets 4 with the Browns trailing, 10-7. Jackson gets credit, though, for benching ineffective DeShone Kizer at halftime. Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams called blitzes for safety Peppers often to take advantage of McCown's immobility, but McCown consistently beat it.

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