Despite turnovers, Kizer remains Browns QB
BEREA, Ohio -- Life as a Cleveland Browns rookie quarterback means taking one step forward and two steps backward for DeShone Kizer. His obvious goal is to eliminate the backward steps in the final six games of the season.
Kizer had no turnovers in a 33-16 loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Oct. 29 and one, on a fourth-down pass on the final offensive play, in a 38-24 loss to the Detroit Lions on Nov. 12.
Kizer regressed in a 19-7 loss to the Jaguars on Sunday, throwing two interceptions and losing two fumbles. He fumbled one other time, but recovered.
Magnifying his mistakes was the fact he turned the ball over three times in the Browns' final three possessions in the fourth quarter. The Browns trailed only 10-7 when the flood started.
"It hurts," Kizer said. "I'm trying to do whatever I can to string together some games and continue to prove my development to my teammates and to continue to earn the respect of them. This is the first game that I've come off of the field feeling as if I didn't prove that I've developed yet."
Head coach Hue Jackson knew the questions about possibly benching Kizer would start flying, so he squelched them before they started. Jackson said Kizer will start against the Bengals next Sunday in Cincinnati.
Jackson went on to say Kizer will be the starter the remainder of the season.
"He'll shake it off," Jackson said on Monday. "He saw the corrections he has to make. I think where that comes from, there were some balls he missed, the ball's thrown over a guy's head and one ended up an interception.
"He knows that's not a big-time quarterback play and that's not who he wants to be. We have to fix those things."
Jackson says he owes Kizer the opportunity to keep starting, but he also owes it to the Browns' front office. The Browns (0-10) are in line for the first pick in the draft the second straight year. They have to decide whether to use it on a quarterback.
"It's a bad feeling knowing that it's a question, but yeah, I think that knowing where you are going into next week at least allows you to have some sort of peace of mind going into the following week," Kizer said.
Kizer, picked 52nd overall in 2017, has thrown five touchdown passes and 14 interceptions.
--One of the bright spots for the Browns in their 10th straight loss was the return of wide receiver Corey Coleman. Coleman caught six passes for 80 yards in his first game back after missing seven with a broken hand.
"I was just trying to make plays to give our team the best chance to win," Coleman said. "Going into it, we knew we were playing a pretty good defense. We just have to make plays and we knew we were going to fight a battle."
--Left tackle Spencer Drango, making his third start in place of injured Joe Thomas (triceps, injured reserve), was responsible for a strip-sack by Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue. He did not make excuses.
"I know I have to do better," Drango said. "If (quarterback DeShone Kizer) puts it on himself, it's not all on him. A little extra effort here, something there, try to save the day and try to take a hit off."
Kizer was stripped three times and sacked a total of five times.
NOTES: DE Emmanuel Ogbah (broken foot) was injured in the first half. He will undergo surgery and need four months to recover. ... DT Jamie Meder (high ankle sprain) was hurt in the first half. He will undergo further evaluation, head coach Hue Jackson said Monday. ... WR Sammie Coates (knee) was hurt on a punt return. He will be examined further. ... RB Duke Johnson had only two carries (10 yards) and four catches (56 yards and a touchdown) Sunday. It was his lowest output since having no carries and two catches in the season opener against the Steelers. ... LB James Burgess led the Browns with 16 tackles. He sacked Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles once for seven yards.
REPORT CARD VS. JAGUARS
--PASSING OFFENSE: D - Rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer threw two interceptions, lost two fumbles and did a poor job of connecting with his receivers. He was saved by wide receiver Corey Coleman making six catches and running back Duke Johnson making four, but Kizer was not as protective of the ball as he was the previous two games and it cost the Browns dearly. He said he should have done more with his legs to avoid the pass rush.
--RUSHING OFFENSE: F - The Browns knew the best way to take the heat off the Jaguars pass rush was to run the ball. They had difficulty and handed the ball to running backs Isaiah Crowell (11) and Johnson (two) a total of 13 times. The Browns got little push up front. The longest run of the day was a 10-yard dash by quarterback DeShone Kizer. When the run doesn't work immediately, the Browns usually give up on it. That's what happened Sunday.
--PASS DEFENSE: B - The Browns were determined they would not be beaten by Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles. Bortles attempted 30 passes, completing 17 for 154 yards. He was off target on many throws and though he was sacked only twice, he was hounded by the pass rush constantly. He did throw one touchdown pass - 10 yards to Marcedes Lewis, but that was at the end of a short 33-yard drive set up by an interception.
--RUSH DEFENSE: C - The Jaguars rushed for 139 yards, but the Browns made them work for that yardage. The Jags had 44 running plays. Leonard Fournette was the workhorse. He blew through one crack in the blocking for 29 yards, but had just 82 yards on 27 other carries. The biggest difference between the two approaches is when the running game stalled for the Jaguars, they kept dialing it up.
--SPECIAL TEAMS: B - Kick returner Matthew Dayes returned the opening kickoff 53 yards to the Jaguars 48, but it was wasted because the Browns couldn't get a first down. As usual, kicker Zane Gonzalez drilled his only two kickoffs for touchbacks. Punter Britton Colquitt had his first touchback of the season. He has nailed 16 inside the 20.
--COACHING: C-minus - Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams had his unit ready. The run defense was strong except for the one 29-yard run by Fournette and Bortles did not hurt the Browns with his passing. Jackson gave up on the run too soon, and that put the game on the shoulders of rookie Kizer. The four turnovers by Kizer were a predictable result.