The quarterback competition in Berea is over, and DeShone Kizer has been declared the victor.
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Cleveland Browns coach Hue Jackson named Kizer the starting quarterback in a conference call on Sunday.
One day after earning his first preseason start, Kizer has been given the role permanently, starting with Cleveland’s Week 1 tilt with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The first-year gunslinger out of Notre Dame established a rapport Saturday night with Cleveland’s first-team weapons, namely second-year wideout Corey Coleman. Though Kizer finished 6-of-18 passing for 93 yards with one interception, or what Around The NFL colleague Nick Shook called “one of the more misleading stat lines you’ll see this preseason,” he impressed the coach who drafted him.
During Sunday’s announcement, Jackson mused about his starter’s pocket presence and Kizer’s ability to redirect protections, among other things.
“He’s earned the right to play through his preparation,” Jackson told reporters. “He’s established a work ethic that I think has earned the respect of his teammates. I think it will afford him the ability to lead the offense as we move forward, which hopefully will lead to success.
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“It’s been good to watch his development throughout the offseason. Obviously he’s a young quarterback, and he still has a lot to learn. He’s going to learn a lot and gain a lot of experience and the only way you get that is by playing. We’re all excited about that.”
Kizer will be the first Browns rookie to start the season under center since Brandon Weeden in 2012.
The ascension of Kizer means Brock Osweiler, Cody Kessler and Kevin Hogan will play backup until further notice. After earning the first two starts of the preseason, Osweiler has rumored to be on the trade block and could be a cut-day casualty if no swap transpires. The former Texans quarterback’s absurd $16 million salary will be a hurdle to moving him. Kessler and Hogan should be viable backups for the Browns, who don’t exactly expect to contend for the division title this season.
The Cleveland Browns, the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission have partnered to submit a bid to host the annual event in either 2019 or 2020. The 2019 draft would mark an opportunity to celebrate the league’s 100th season, or its centennial in 2020. The league was formed in Canton, Ohio, home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, on Aug. 20, 1920.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told a group of Browns season-ticket holders Thursday that he was thrilled to see Northeast Ohio bidding to host the draft, per The Canton Repository. Goodell also said 24 other communities are trying to host the draft, according to the Joe Thomas jersey report.
“Since even before the establishment of the NFL nearly 100 years ago and the legacies of household names like Jim Brown, Paul Brown, Otto Graham and Lou Groza, Northeast Ohio has been rooted in football and NFL history and has been dedicated to developing the sport we love at all levels of competition,” stated Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam in a release. “With the support of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, Cleveland and Canton are the ideal sites for the NFL Draft due to our region’s unmatched passion and respect for football, as well as our commitment to its future and the next generation of Hall of Fame players.”
He added: “Just because DeShone [Kizer] might be good in a few years doesn’t mean he’s ready now.”
Browns coach Hue Jackson announced Wednesday he will start Osweiler against the New York Giants on Monday. Kizer will get No. 2 reps with Cody Kessler slated to take snaps third.
While nothing is official until Jackson says it, one has to love Thomas’ lack of fear in this situation. As the franchise’s most important player, a person who is in nearly every meeting including, as Cleveland.com points out, ones where “Jackson consults with team leaders such as Thomas on such matters,” Thomas is about as good a source as it gets.
Even though momentum was leaning in this direction for a few weeks, Thomas’ quotes still mark a stunning turnaround for Osweiler. Once believed to be the human end of a salary-eating trade, Osweiler worked his way through an interesting field of quarterbacks in Cleveland to earn a preseason Week 1 start.
Outside of Kizer, who was impressive last week against the Saints, there was also Cody Kessler. Kessler began camp as the favorite and had the best working knowledge of Jackson’s offense.
It’s important to note that grooming doesn’t necessarily mean guaranteeing. Kizer was 11 of 18 for 184 yards and a touchdown against New Orleans last week. Against significantly better competition, Osweiler was 6 of 14 for 42 yards — numbers that must vastly improve on Monday night against the Giants if he plans on putting a stranglehold on the competition.
If Kizer continues to improve, the Browns will be caught in the difficult position of Myles Garrett jersey sitting the future for the sake of the present. Osweiler must make that choice worth their while.