Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson made the call to roll with his rookie quarterback, DeShone Kizer, right out of the gate in 2017. Though the Browns lost their opener at home to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 21-18, Kizer played pretty darn well, all things considered.
Finishing with 222 yards and one touchdown passing and completing 66.7 percent of his passes, he added 17 yards and a touchdown on the ground. If not for an interception and the fact that Pittsburgh scored an easy touchdown on a blocked punt following a three-and-out on the first offensive possession of the game, Cleveland would have won.
Not surprisingly, Jackson was excited about what he saw from his young quarterback.
“I like DeShone,” Jackson said after the game, per Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. “I like the feel of him on the sideline with me. I love our communication. He did some good things. There are some opportunities that he’s going to be the first to tell you he wish he had back. That’s going to happen to a young quarterback, but this guy gave us a chance.
“He put the team in position to give us an opportunity to make something special happen. We didn’t finish it the way we wanted to, but I like the first game with him. His first live, big game, I thought he handled himself extremely well.”
Jackson also said, “Not a lot of rookies can go out there against Pittsburgh and do some of the things he did.”
Aside from the turnover, the big thing Kizer needs to work on going forward is getting rid of the ball quicker. He took seven sacks Sunday, and it’s hard to blame those on the offensive line.
#Browns DeShone Kizer was sacked 7 times. The fastest sack for PIT, however, was just 3.8 seconds. That doesn't really scream O-Line issue.
— Chris Fedor (@ChrisFedor) September 11, 2017
Clearly, Kizer is still adjusting to the speed of the game. Windows are much tighter down the field because NFL defenders are so much better at every position. As such, rookies either tend to hold onto the ball too long looking for a wide open guy or they throw it into coverage and become turnover machines.
Jackson is confident that Kizer will adjust to the NFL, and soon.
“That’s what young quarterbacks do from time to time. You’re waiting on things, waiting on things and all of the sudden, there’s a rush that is coming. It’s a real rush. He will grow from that. I know he will.”
It was only one game. But what we saw from Kizer should give Browns fans legitimate hope that their quarterback woes might finally be over. Jackson is an excellent coach who knows how to get the most out of quarterbacks, and it appears he’s found the right man to mold to his scheme.
Next up for Kizer and the Browns is a road trip to Baltimore. Kizer might take a step or two backwards in Week 2, because the Ravens feature an outstanding defense, one which caused Andy Dalton to cough up five turnovers, at home no less, in Week 1.