When it comes to how the Cleveland Browns have handled DeShone Kizer, you can’t help but be impressed. Not in a good way, of course. More in a “I’m not sure they could’ve destroyed this kid any worse than they already have” kind of way.
Cleveland took its very young, very raw rookie QB and set him up to fail right from the get-go. Last week was yet another example, as the Browns benched Kizer in favor of Kevin Hogan. The move was made partly due to the former’s struggles, but also because of the latter’s mildly impressive showing in mop-up duty.
Naturally, everything backfired. Hogan was a hot mess, so bad the Browns’ attempt to let Kizer “learn from the sideline” lasted one week. He was reinserted into the starting lineup yesterday, with coach Hue Jackson claiming the time off will be good for him in the long run.
It probably won’t. In fact, I’d be willing to bet the clipboard experience Kizer gained last week won’t make the slightest impact on how he plays from here on out.
Of course, you won’t hear such a thing should the rookie perform admirably this Sunday when the Browns host the Tennessee Titans. If Kizer has a solid showing, I’m sure Jackson will tout this as proof giving the kid a week off did wonders for his career. That there was so much to learn from watching Hogan overthrow his receivers and hit the opponent’s secondary with pinpoint accuracy.
To be fair, this last part isn’t completely inaccurate. If anything, Kizer learned a ton about how not to play quarterback in the NFL while watching Hogan’s dreadful performance.
Still, it’s a hell of a reach to think one week on the sideline will be beneficial for Kizer’s growth.
For one, the Browns never should’ve benched him in the first place. Before the season started, Jackson clearly stated this year was all about riding with Kizer no matter what. This lasted all of five weeks. Kizer was struggling, yes, but to hear his coach go from “it’s your job through the good and the bad” to “never mind, we’re starting Hogan” this quickly had to be jarring.
Moving forward, how can Kizer feel confident about his coach’s latest endorsement? He was already told not to worry about losing the starting gig, yet Hogan was given the job last Sunday. If you thought Kizer was pressing before, how do you think he’s going to look under the assumption he’s a few bad drives away from being pulled again?
Along with the limited amount of knowledge he gained from a week on the sideline, improvements likely aren’t going to be seen due to the simple fact nothing about this offense has changed since he was last on the field.
This is still the same receiving corps which collectively couldn’t create separation if the opposing cornerbacks were all playing on one leg. Jackson will still make the same questionable play-calls, forcing Kizer to work with lengthy sideline routes and no running game. Cleveland’s blatant lack of red zone creativity didn’t disappear last week with Hogan at the helm, so it’s tough to believe things will be any different this Sunday.
So, despite getting a week to take everything in off the field, Kizer will quickly realize his surroundings haven’t changed much once he gets back in the huddle. He’ll still be expected to show improvements despite being asked to throw often to receivers who pose no threat. Should he somehow take said wideout corps to the red zone, he’ll still get head-scratching play-calls which churn out turnovers at an astounding rate.
And, if he can’t show progress despite these hindrances, he’ll still be worried about getting sent back to the sideline.
Jackson may think a one-week benching could do wonders for Kizer. There’s just a very likely chance this isn’t the case. Instead, it’s far more plausible this was just another example of how the Browns have derailed any chance for this young quarterback to succeed.