Following his performance this past Thursday against the New Orleans Saints, Cleveland Browns quarterback DeShone Kizer is closing the gap on the starting quarterback battle.
As I wrote last weekend, I believe either Kizer or Osweiler will be the starter when the season opens on September 10 against Pittsburgh, I think it’s becoming clearer that the momentum shifted back to Kizer after the first preseason game.
Osweiler went 6 of 14 for 42 yards with the first team offense against a Saints defense that gave up over 28 points per game last season, one of the worst in football.
People went to the excuse that Osweiler didn’t have Joe Thomas out there and that he had limited time with the first team offense. Osweiler is entering his sixth year in the NFL, he has to be ready to play no matter the circumstances.
I’ll admit his timing with the receivers was off but he also needs to get that ball out quicker. It seemed like on the majority of his throws, he was waiting till the last second to get that ball out of his hands.
That was apparent on the almost touchdown pass to Kenny Britt, maybe Britt was able to drag the second foot but I think Osweiler could’ve got it quicker to him in the end zone.
As for Kizer, even thought it was against the third string defense, he was able to move the third string offense down the field twice for touchdowns.
3rd and 15 and facing pressure early in the fourth quarter, Kizer was able to maneuver through the pocket, executed a great pump fake and then threw a deep 52 yard pass to Richard Mullaney to set up a touchdown.
His pocket presence and poise showed up on that play and showed that he was able to stand tall in that pocket and isn’t afraid to take a hit, that’s something I haven’t seen in a Browns quarterback in some time.
Then late in the 4th quarter, he made two great throws.
It was 3rd and 24, he was able to execute a 22 yard pass to Ranell Hall who was being draped by a Saints defender and Kizer was still able to get it to him.
Then on 4th and 2 at the 45 yard line with a little under two minutes to go and the Saints defense bringing a blitz, Kizer was able to take a hit and still launch a 45 yard to Jordan Payton for the go ahead touchdown.
The top quarterbacks in this league are able to get those kind of passes off with a defender or multiple defenders coming right at him.
Kizer never showed signs that he was nervous or that the moment was too big for him and that’s a great sign moving forward in his progression as an NFL quarterback.
He finished the game 11 of 18 for 184 yards and a touchdown. I will say accuracy and getting the ball out quicker are things he needs to improve on but there’s no doubt that this kid can play on this level.
Coach Jackson has yet to name a starter for the second preseason game next Monday against the New York Giants but it’s obvious it’ll be Osweiler or Kizer.
During Saturday’s training camp session, while Kizer still sits third on the depth chart and team drills, he was getting work with the first team offense along with Osweiler.
Cody Kessler, who is currently the team’s backup only worked with the second team offense, a sign that he will not be the starting quarterback for this team.
It’s probably more than likely Osweiler will get the start against the Giants but if I’m Coach Jackson and I think he wants Kizer to be the opening starter, I’m giving him the starting job now.
Right after next Monday’s game against the Giants, they have to turnaround quickly for the dress rehearsal game against Tampa the following Thursday.
If he wants his entire starting unit that will be for the regular season opener together and preparing as such, then the quarterback competition needs to be decided this coming week.
I think we know what Brock Osweiler is and will be for this team for the 2017 season.
Time to give the keys to the kid.
I can understand though if Jackson doesn’t think the kid is ready or doesn’t want to give him too much too soon but I don’t think he’ll be able to hold Kizer back because I think the talent continues to overshadow the other quarterbacks in Cleveland.