You could look at the struggles of Cleveland Browns rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer two different ways. On one hand, not even Tom Brady himself could flourish in an erratic, talent-lacking, chaotic offense like Cleveland runs. But on the other, it’s tough to think of a quarterbacking position in the NFL with less pressure than the Browns. Nobody expects you to succeed, so anything you do reasonably well is a bonus.
Kizer is dancing on the edge of this blade, and unfortunately for him, mostly failing. He’s thrown a league-leading 19 interceptions this year, including a backbreaking six in the red zone. He’s also coughed up two fumbles inside the 20.
And now, head coach Hue Jackson has opened the door to the possibility that the Browns might kick the tires on yet another quarterback.
“He has some work to do,” Jackson said after Sunday’s 27-10 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. “I think that’s a fair question if he’ll ever get it. I think he will, but he has to keep working.”
And then came the line that every player dreads when talk turns to their job security: “We’ll see.”
“We’re not here just trying to get through the season,” Jackson said. “I don’t look at it like that and I’m not going to let our players look at it like that. We’re trying to win. If the best decision is to move forward in a different direction, we will. At the same time, I want him to finish this if he can. We’ll see.”
If the Browns do decide to roll the dice on another quarterback, 2018 would be a pretty much perfect draft for it. UCLA’s Josh Rosen, USC’s Sam Darnold, Wyoming’s Josh Allen, Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield and Louisville’s Lamar Jackson are all pegged as first-round-caliber talent, and all would be available where the Browns are picking … which will almost surely be No. 1.
According to the Cleveland media, Kizer has agonized over each of the Browns’ 14 losses, and wasn’t aware that Jackson was even considering benching him, or worse. “He has not shared that with me,” Kizer said after the game. “When you play the performance that I had, I’m sure you have to go back and reevaluate the quarterback position. It’s just on me to make sure I do whatever I can to be the best me I can, the best teammate and the best leader and the best quarterback I can become.”
Kizer’s got the right attitude. It’s a question whether he’s got the right skills—he ranks last in most major statistical categories among quarterbacks—and an even bigger question is whether he’s got the right organization around him.
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