Kizer played the best game of his young career on Nov. 26 in a 30-16 loss to the Bengals. He kept the Browns in the game against a rugged Chargers defense on Sunday, but he lost the ball on a strip-sack at the Chargers 18 with 4:48 remaining and the Browns trailing 19-10. He threw an interception on Cleveland's next possession to seal the Browns' 12th loss in 12 games.
Kizer had a similar setback two weeks earlier. He played well in a 38-24 loss to the Detroit Lions on Nov. 12, but one week later turned the ball over on the final three possessions in a 19-7 loss to the Jaguars.
"I think DeShone is still a growing young quarterback," head coach Hue Jackson said on Monday. "He's working extremely hard. He's trying his tail off to win for his football team, and I think sometimes in those moments, you kind of revert back.
"You're going to take the good with the bad. He's done some good things. He did some things that he has to continue to grow and learn from. I'm not down on DeShone. I want DeShone to keep working at this thing. He knows he has my backing and my support, but he knows there are some areas he has to grow and grow up pretty fast."
Kizer completed 15 of 32 passes for 215 yards with one touchdown and the interception against the Chargers. He was sacked three times.
The rookie from Notre Dame has remained confident through the highs and lows of his first season.
"We are very close to getting where we want to go, but I can definitely sense in this locker room that very close isn't cutting it anymore," Kizer said. "We need to get over that hill."
Kizer has thrown a league-high 15 interceptions.
--Wide receiver Josh Gordon was targeted 11 times and caught four passes in his first NFL game in nearly three years. It was evident he and quarterback DeShone Kizer are not in sync.
"The speed of the game is going to be a little bit faster (in a game than a practice) from a defensive look," Gordon said. "We've worked on it in practice, and we just have to keep working to get better week by week, working on the rhythm, working on everything else we do."
Gordon was reinstated by commissioner Roger Goodell on Nov. 1 after numerous suspensions for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.
--The Browns are 1-27 since the start of the 2016 season. It is the worst 28-game stretch in the history of the NFL. The Buccaneers, an expansion team in 1976, lost their first 26 games and then won their next two.
NOTES: S Jabrill Peppers (knee) was injured against the Chargers on Sunday and did not return. ... DT Danny Shelton (ribs) was injured in the second half. He returned to the game and was not on the injury report Monday. ... CB Jason McCourty made his 100th career start on Sunday. He made nine tackles and broke up a pass, but also gave up a touchdown. ... MLB Joe Schobert had 12 tackles. It was his sixth double-digit performance in the last seven games.
REPORT CARD VS. CHARGERS
--PASSING OFFENSE: C -- Rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer completed fewer than half his passes (15 of 32) and turned the ball over on his last two possessions in a tight game. He also threw some rockets for completions, connecting four times with rookie tight end David Njoku. Kizer completed four passes to Josh Gordon, but overthrew him several times. Kizer and Gordon need more practice time together.
--RUSHING OFFENSE: C-minus -- It is not a good sign when the quarterback is the leading rusher. Kizer led the Browns with 46 yards on five carries. The Chargers keyed on running back Duke Johnson, and he carried seven times for a net gain of 2 yards. Running back Isaiah Crowell broke one 16-yard run, but he was corralled most of the day while gaining 41 yards on 10 carries.
--PASS DEFENSE: D -- The Chargers scored only one touchdown because the Browns' red-zone defense forced three field goals inside the 20, but Philip Rivers still passed for 344 yards while completing 31 of 43 passes. The Browns did not pressure Rivers well, registering only one sack. That resulted in the Chargers getting 19 first downs through the air. The Browns' struggles covering tight ends continued. Chargers tight ends Hunter Henry (seven) and Antonio Gates (three) combined for 10 catches for 113 yards.
--RUSH DEFENSE: B-minus -- Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams emphasized getting pushback on the line of scrimmage. The mission was accomplished except for one 29-yard run by running back Melvin Gordon. The Chargers' 24 other runs netted 65 yards. The Chargers tried running the ball late in the game to bleed the clock, but the run defense stiffened and forced a passing situation on third-and-9.
--SPECIAL TEAMS: C -- The failure of the Browns' defense to get stops meant the Chargers punted only twice. Normal punt returner Jabrill Peppers was injured. His backup, Duke Johnson, ran back one punt 12 yards. The kickoff coverage allowed a 44-yard return by Desmond King. Browns kickoff returner Matthew Dayes fielded three kicks for touchbacks. His long return for the day was 32 yards. The Browns need long returns to shorten the field for the offense, but it has not happened often.
--COACHING: C-minus -- Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams made the corrections for a better run defense, but his unit allowed four scoring drives of 10 or more plays. Head coach Hue Jackson could have played for a field goal on third-and-goal from the 15 with the Browns down 19-10. Instead he called a timeout with 4:59 to play. DeShone Kizer suffered a strip-sack on the play.