Breaking down two games from new Green Bay Packers’ quarterback DeShone Kizer‘s rookie season with the Cleveland Browns.
Having patience when watching a young quarterback is an absolute must. Green Bay Packers‘ quarterback Brett Hundley may have had two NFL seasons under his belt when he took the reigns in 2017, but he might as well have been a newborn. DeShone Kizer’s experience with the Cleveland Browns was no different.
Kizer was selected 52nd overall during the second round of the 2017 draft. He decided to forego his final two years at Notre Dame in an attempt to capitalize on what was believed to be a weak class for his position. Kizer had all the tools- size, mobility, and the arm strength to deliver a nice ball.
It didn’t take long for him to make an impression on the Browns’ coaching staff either. After the third preseason game, he was announced as the starter for the opener, beating out Brock Osweiler, Cody Kessler, and Kevin Hogan. Kizer was their man and remained so for pretty much the entire season with 15 starts.
Following a 1-15 record in 2016, the mindset in Cleveland was that things could only get better. Head coach Hue Jackson was entering his second season with the team and had what looked like the future of the franchise under center. However, he quickly found out his expectations were overblown. Kizer threw a league-high 22 interceptions and ranked dead last in passer rating. The 21-year old quarterback showed flashes throughout the season, but he wasn’t surrounded with enough talent to sustain that success.
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With two picks in the top five of the 2018 draft, Cleveland decided to trade Kizer to Green Bay and start over again with their signal caller. In exchange, they received a former first rounder in defensive back Damarious Randall and a swapping of mid-round draft picks.
As a Packer, Kizer will be competing with Hundley as the primary backup to Aaron Rodgers. Green Bay desperately wants to avoid losing Rodgers for an extended period of time, but they also want to prepared in case it does happen. In the NFL injuries are inevitable.
Kizer has the makeup of a future starter. He was thrust into the starting lineup sooner than anticipated and suffered due to lack of preparation. With a user-friendly learning curve and constant interaction with the league’s best pass thrower, Kizer should thrive in Green Bay before pursuing opportunities elsewhere.
I’ve hand-picked a pair of games from Kizer’s rookie campaign to highlight the best and worst of his performances. With that, let’s dive right in.
Week three @ Baltimore Ravens. Kizer- 15/31 182 yards, 0 TDs, 3 INTs, and 1 lost fumble.
Kizer wants this throw the whole way. The Ravens are in man with no safety help over the middle. This ball couldn’t have been placed better.
The Ravens look liked they are in man pre-snap but actually drop into cover three. Browns send two receivers to the flats and one on a deep post. Kizer finds Rashard Higgins in the turkey hole running a corner (7) route.
Cleveland comes out with a double slant look. There’s nothing there, but Kizer forces one. Depleting result on what should have been a scoring drive. He would have been smart stepping through the pocket and escaping to his left. Plenty of room to run or throw the ball away so the Browns’ offense could live for another play.
This is supposed to be a cover two beater. The two outside receivers are sent deep while the slot man finds space over the middle. Blatant miss read by Kizer.
Final Score: Cleveland 10, Baltimore 24
Week 10 @ Detroit Lions. Kizer- 21-37 232 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT.
The Lions give the Browns an aggressive look. The safety blitz allows Kizer a chance to send one over the top. He puts this one only where his receiver can get it. Excellent throw and catch.
Detroit runs a zone blitz. Slot corner comes in, and Kizer stares right through him and makes a play. The outside corner is playing off the receiver so he knows the quick hitch will be there. Great move after the catch by Kenny Britt.
Kizer has had trouble standing strong in the pocket since his days at Notre Dame. What should have been a 20+ yard gain is bailed out by a defensive pass interference. The inside linebacker comes up the middle and Kizer has the time to get this pass there, but he floats one. This play screams inexperience.
The Lions want Kizer to get rid of this ball early, but the running back does a great job picking up the blitz. This looks like cover 4 defense and Kizer does a great job dropping this one in between the linebacker and safety.
This throw should put a smile on your face. Kizer goes right after pro-bowl corner Darius Slay. Slay is in off-man but Kizer releases this right as the receiver is getting out of his break. Completing throws like this can keep you in the league for a while.
The pass doesn’t help but this is just a terrible play call. It’s first and goal and the Browns want to risk it all by going after Slay. The receiver never gets leverage and is not expecting the ball in the first place.
Final Score: Cleveland 24, Detroit 38
The Bad: Kizer’s number one priority entering Green Bay’s training camp should be decision making. Too often he takes unnecessary risks that end up costing him. Seems like when he gets down in the red zone he freezes up. He also tends to gets stuck on his first read. Part of being an NFL quarterback is working through your progressions as the play develops. His internal clock needs to be addressed by Packers quarterback coach Frank Cignetti Jr.
The Good: There actually is a lot to like about Kizer’s game. He provides a catch-able ball to his receivers that also brings some heat. When he is able to set himself in his drop back, his accuracy is very good. Kizer really just needs to get comfortable in an offense.
The verdict: Most people believe Kizer is the clear-cut no. 2 QB at the moment and I would have to agree. He has a much better arm than Hundley and has more teachable traits. Working behind Rodgers should do more for him and than it did for Hundley. It’s Kizer’s job to lose.