Since 1999, the Browns’ quarterback position has been the biggest joke in sports. Seasons change, years go by, presidents come and go, and the Cleveland Browns still can’t find a single person to competently play the most important position in football.
As the names on the infamous Browns’ QB Jersey continued to pile up, the hopes that the team would eventually find someone to lead them dwindled with each passing season. Now that we know DeShone Kizer will be the next in line, it’s time to figure out how he can end the QB carousel once and for all with a successful rookie season.
It may not be the most coveted occupation in the world, but somebody has to do it. Lining up behind center for Cleveland has been nothing but a punchline over the years, and has been one of the biggest reasons people think Alabama can beat the Browns every single year. You could have probably found an add for Browns starting QB on Craigslist or can see a feature during “Dirty Jobs.” Hopefully, that all comes to an end with DeShone Kizer.
DeShone Kizer is QB1. pic.twitter.com/JOibbrF7im
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) August 27, 2017
The big question is, how? How will this finally come to an end? After all these years, how will Kizer find enough success his rookie season in order to dump an entire vat of gasoline on the Browns QB Jersey once and for all, using it to light the biggest fire Cleveland has ever seen?
— John Sabol (@John_Sabol) August 27, 2017
It’s simple. The Browns have to keep it simple and to let Kizer grow on his own.
That’s the problem with the idea of having a savior. A savior isn’t someone that’s decent, that gets the job done and is solid. There’s so much more shock and awe that surrounds someone to lead the team out of the dark. You can’t expect the white knight who’s bound to save the damsel in distress (which the Browns are in this situation as well as every other situation) to be some average dude. You expect him to be a combination of some of the best quarterbacks around, like for example, Cam Newton and Tom Brady.
— SNF on NBC (@SNFonNBC) April 20, 2017
That is exactly the kind of talk that can derail the Kizer Caboose before it even gets moving on the tracks. His rookie season, Kizer will not be Newton and Brady molded into one superhuman quarterback that is pretty much the football version of Will Smith in Hancock, yet he will still be successful. All because the Browns are putting him in a position to win.
While that may be the strangest sentence you have ever read — with the Browns proving just how inept they are at building a good team, they actually have the chance to put Kizer in the perfect spot his rookie season. It’s not easy to win during your first year, but it’s something the Browns can do thanks to the players around him on offense.
The most important thing for a rookie quarterback? Remaining upright throughout the game thanks to the big boys up front. Believe it or not, the Browns’ offensive line actually has a shot to be one of the best units in football.
Will this be the best offensive line in football in 2017? pic.twitter.com/pzvqA9Pn2i
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) June 15, 2017
Kizer is talented and there’s no arguing that, but it’s extremely tough to be talented when you’re running around behind the line of scrimmage like a chicken without its head. That’s not going to be the case thanks to the dedication to build around the offensive line in Cleveland. Joe Thomas is one of the best tackles in football and has gone to the Pro Bowl every single season in his ten-year career. Joe Bitonio is one of the better guards around and just got inked to a big deal keeping him around for the future. With the additions of J.C. Tretter from Green Bay and Kevin Zeitler from the Bengals, the Browns now have four linemen who finished with a top-ten grade at their position.
Having the right guys in place for Kizer couldn’t be more important. It will allow him to remain comfortable and protected in the pocket, instead of forcing mistakes because he has to get rid of the ball in the hurry. These linemen are the building block for Kizer’s success this season, even if Thomas himself didn’t exactly believe in Kizer as the team’s starter from the get-go.
— Daryl Ruiter (@RuiterWrongFAN) August 16, 2017
Now that Thomas has since admitted he is not a quarterback guru and has no idea how to judge one, he can spend his season making sure Kizer stays upright. Having pass protection for a rookie quarterback is always important, but it’s even more pivotal in Kizer’s case. While he’s already leaps and bounds better than some of the other signal callers behind him, one of his biggest flaws is his tendency to hold on to the ball for way too long.
Deshone Kizer is not a catch and release passer. Plenty of examples where he is comfortable holding on to the ball longer than planned. pic.twitter.com/YKLulqmDK2
— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) December 13, 2016
That may have worked at the collegiate level, but that kind of stuff is not going to fly as much in the big leagues, especially not during his rookie season. Kizer is already showing that he’s getting better, but you can definitely expect the rookie to revert back to his old ways at times this season.
#Browns Hue Jackson said DeShone Kizer was better in huddle vs. Giants. Still needs to get rid of ball quicker. Holding it too long.
— Scott Petrak ct (@ScottPetrak) August 22, 2017
Holding onto the ball is something that definitely isn’t going to help out the offensive line in any way. Pass protecting for Kizer as opposed to another quarterback may be more difficult at times, but that’s why it’s equally as important for Kizer to be on the same page with top target Corey Coleman.
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) August 26, 2017
When shit hits the fan, quarterbacks tend to look for their go-to target, that one guy that’s considered a safety blanket who can get open when the play is completely broken down. That man has to be Coleman for Kizer this season.
Even though the 2016 first round pick technically isn’t a rookie, he’s hopefully heading into his first season without any injury issues. Coleman burst onto the scene in Week 2 for Cleveland with five catches for 104 yards and two touchdowns before a broken hand during practice the following week would derail his entire rookie campaign. He missed the team’s next six games and never got back on track.
At this point, it isn’t just Kizer who has to prove himself. In fact, Coleman may have more on the line now that the first wideout selected in the 2016 draft is expected to replace the production of Terrelle Pryor who signed with Washington during the offseason. He has to be in the right place at the right time on Sundays not only to help out Kizer, but to prove he isn’t the latest in a long line of first round busts for Cleveland.
So far, so good.
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) August 27, 2017
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) August 27, 2017
The sky is the limit for the combo of Kizer and Coleman, but let’s not act like they’re going to be Brady and Randy Moss during their first season together. Coleman’s still trying to prove he’s a top wideout in the league whole Kizer is probably still waking up with nightmares of Brian Kelly running the offense for him. The third and final important factor in Kizer succeeding his rookie year is the strength of Cleveland’s run game.
As mentioned above, the team is in a good place thanks to the offensive line. All they need is a man who can be a bell-cow for this team, and Isaiah Crowell is the perfect guy for the job.
— Daryl Ruiter (@RuiterWrongFAN) August 12, 2017
It was very easy to dismiss any player who was sentenced to play for Cleveland last season, but Crowell actually had a monster year. The running back finished with over 1,200 yards from scrimmage with seven touchdowns and averaged 4.8 yards per carry. Now the team has a new and improved offensive line, while Crowell wants to earn a big fat payday next season. That’s a pretty solid recipe for success.
With Crowell featured as the main source of yards throughout the season, the team won’t expect Kizer to come out and throw 35+ times a game. It gives him the chance to be more of a game manager at the start of the season until he can continue to develop under center. The rushing attack can control the clock and the tempo of the game, while Kizer can focus on leading this team to wins instead of turning into the next Tom Brady.
The team doesn’t want Kizer to just be an Alex Smith type of player who just manages the offense. They’re looking for a star, and they could have one in Kizer, but this team does not have the resume to have high expectations. They haven’t had a quarterback to lead them for years in nearly two decades. His rookie year may not be the performance Cleveland wants, but it’s the performance they need right now. Of course they’d like him to go out and put up record-breaking numbers his first season, but this isn’t your Madden career mode, it’s real life.
When Kizer and this formula have the Browns’ offense looking like an actual NFL offense this season, Cleveland should be ready to give him the key to the city.