When Browns head coach Hue Jackson announced that he was benching rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer last week, it seemed like he had a decent plan in mind. The Browns, already 0-5 at that point, had three more games against the Texans, Titans, and Vikings before their bye week. Here was a chance for Kizer to get some time off to regroup, and then come back after the bye to try and finish the season strong and build some confidence for next year. That plan seems to have gone to shit.
The Browns started Kevin Hogan yesterday, and he was incredibly bad, finishing with 140 yards and one touchdown to go along with three picks. He was so bad that, even on a team as immediately hopeless as the Browns, the idea of him starting the next two games is apparently untenable. So said Jackson after the game (via Cleveland.com):
Jackson indicated that one game on the sidelines was enough to clear the fog for Kizer, who’s buried at the bottom of the NFL with a 49.5 rating.
“Between almost every series, I had conversations with DeShone,’’ said Jackson. “I wanted to make sure he was learning and growing in what he saw. We went back and forth on things. He was really into it. I thought he saw some things that he can grow from. I heard growth out of him. I think that’s what matters.”
If you’re anything like me, you read that quote and then whispered to yourself, “Oh, for sure, man.” Maybe Kizer really did learn a lot from watching Hogan suck yesterday, but a far more likely explanation is that Jackson didn’t anticipate Hogan being quite so bad as he was, and has since realized that it would be a very bad idea to let him start the next two games before the bye. So, Kizer goes back in, whether he’s ready or not.
Short-term, Jackson’s quarterback swapping doesn’t really matter. The team is bad and intends to stay bad until all those stockpiled draft picks turn into players. What does matter is Kizer’s development, and if Jackson has one responsibility this year it is to set his rookie quarterback up for future success. Putting him in and out of the starting lineup does not seem like a great way to go about doing that, so if Jackson decides to start Kizer again next week, he better be ready to keep him out there for good. One can only learn so much from watching Kevin Hogan.