DeShone Kizer has undeniable talent, but some inconsistencies in his college game suggested that he shouldn’t be a Day 1 starter in the NFL. The Browns rejected that idea, and Kizer earned the starting job in Cleveland. Hue Jackson benched Kizer in favor of Kevin Hogan at halftime in Week 5, and Hogan will take over the starting role this week, head coach Hue Jackson said Wednesday.
Jackson said in a statement:
“I’ve made the decision to start Kevin this week. We’ve liked what Kevin has been able to do within our offense when he’s been in there and he will start on Sunday because that’s what we feel is best for our team at this point in time. This does not change the way we feel about DeShone going forward. He has worked extremely hard and still very much has a bright future. Right now, it’s better for him and his development to back up Kevin.”
The Browns decided before the season that Kizer was the guy to lead a turnaround. But moving forward with Hogan in the starting role for now is the right call for Cleveland. Kizer is raw and needs to develop, and the pressure of starting for a team that’s won a single game during his head coach’s tenure isn’t the best environment for it.
Hue Jackson pulled Kizer last week after he completed eight of 17 passes for 87 yards and an interception. Kizer also had a costly red zone fumble before being pulled and replaced by Kevin Hogan after the half.
Hogan outperformed Kizer. The additional year of experience in Cleveland’s system helped, and he went 16 of 19 for 194 yards, two touchdowns, and one pick in the Browns’ 17-14 loss to the Jets.
“Kizer is developing, but his job is still to win,” Jackson said Sunday. “That is first and foremost. I didn’t think it was going in the right direction. That is why I made the decision to take him out. If that was the case and it was just about development, I would have just left him in.
“It is not about that. It is about winning.”
The urgency to win is understandable. The Browns had nowhere to go but up after last year’s 1-15 finish, and while Jackson’s job is expected to be safe, the pressure is there.
“My decision is what is best for the team. What is best for our team to put us in position to win?” Jackson said Monday. “Also, what is best for DeShone? It’s not just for the team, but what is best for him just so that he can feel like, ‘OK, I am moving further along in this process, and I’m understanding what I need to do to be better.’ All of that will go into my decision-making.”
Kizer has yet to complete more than 50 percent of his passes in any NFL outing. He’s thrown three touchdowns against nine interceptions so far this season. Continuing to trot him out there would be a hindrance to his development.
Jackson has decided that Hogan gives the Browns the best chance to win for now. His performance against the Jets — even though it didn’t end in a win — justifies the move.
Hogan will be the 28th quarterback to start for the Browns since the team started playing in Cleveland again in 1999.
Going with Hogan as the starter in the short term is the smarter play for the Browns. Moving forward with Kizer instead would put Cleveland at risk of ruining yet another shot at the viable franchise quarterback the team’s been looking for since 1999.