Cleveland Browns: Pros and cons of starting DeShone Kizer vs. Tampa Bay

(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

The Cleveland Browns are going with DeShone Kizer as the starting quarterback this Saturday, and there are pros and cons with this decision.

Hue Jackson announced DeShone Kizer as the starting quarterback for the Cleveland Browns’ upcoming preseason game against Tampa Bay, and just like every decision in life, there are pros and cons. Let’s break them down:


New, revamped offensive line should keep him upright

The Browns signed JC Tretter and Kevin Zeitler in the offseason to line-up alongside Joe Thomas, Joel Bitonio, and emerging right tackle Shon Coleman. Couple that with Isaiah Crowell and his hard running style, it makes a lot of sense for the Browns to lean on the running game to control the clock and limit Kizer’s opportunities to make mistakes.

Kizer should see a lot of play-action looks to the middle and deep parts of the field he should have no problems staying upright unless he continues to…


Holds onto the ball too long

Call it a rookie thing, but DeShone Kizer holds onto the ball too long. Yes the offensive line was bad last year, but a lot of sacks were due to quarterbacks being indecisive and not throwing the football.

We saw a bit of Kizer doing just the same Monday night against the Giants, so hopefully that improves with experience. The best thing for a rookie is quick hit routes to get him in a rhythm, and utilize the talents of Duke Johnson and Matthew Dayes to get some yards after the catch.


He can really open up the offense

Kizer was the leading rusher in Monday night’s game against the Giants, and spoiler alert, most of it was by design. Yes, he needs to learn to slide to avoid the type of hits that derailed Cam Newton’s 2016 season, but he has the ability to keep the defense guessing.

Look for a lot of read-option and designed runs for Kizer, and when you mix in a little play-action, it can really open up the field for him to show off his big-play arm.


His ability to handle full playbook/call plays in the huddle

Kizer had some issues on Monday night with getting the play call out in the huddle which resulted in a delay of game penalty, as well as some short play clocks. This hinders his ability to not only understand the pre-snap coverages, but also could rush him before the snap versus the natural rhythm like you see with Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady.

This is going to be a growing pain for any rookie, especially for a quarterback and if he panics too much before the snap, it could lead to a turnover. And we all know how Hue feels about turnovers.

My bet would be on Hue simplifying the offense and slowly opening it up as Kizer progresses.


Can make plays that win a game

It is kind of a weird pro, but hear me out. Last year, we saw Cody Kessler keep us alive in games. We also saw an inexperienced team (and quarterback) fail to capitalize on fourth quarter leads. Kessler even got pulled in the Ravens game because he wasn’t able to make the big time plays Hue Jackson was looking for.

The two big throws Kizer had against the Saints (albeit against the fourth-string defense) were the two reasons why I thought Kizer should have started from Day 1. He simply makes plays that guys like Brock Osweiler and Cody Kessler can’t.

Whether he continues to show he can make big plays remains to be seen, but so far he’s the quarterback on the roster with the highest upside and gives the Browns the best chance to win.


Rookie growing pains

The two cons mentioned above are both things that fall under the “Rookie growing pains” umbrella. DeShone Kizer has shown potential so far, but he will make mistakes this season.

He’s not going to be Tom Brady by Week 3. Hell, Carson Wentz hit his rookie wall last year and still lead his team to seven wins. My big area of focus for Kizer if he’s named the Week 1 starter is how he will handle the adjustments that defenses will make against him as the season progresses.

With that being said, I am extremely excited to see what the rookie can do against Tampa Bay on Saturday night. My expectations are tempered after being burned by the likes of Brandon Weeden, Brady Quinn, and the pride of Akron, Charlie Frye, but an emerging defense mixed with a solid run game is a good recipe to jumpstart a rookie quarterback.

Next: Top 5 quarterbacks the Browns will face in 2017

He’s unlike anything we’ve had at the quarterback position, and I hope I’ll be watching him in the Brown and Orange for the next ten years.