Mark Twain once stated that there are two types of lies and statistics. While his state line looked less than impressive, DeShone Kizer may have emerged as the elusive franchise quarterback that the Cleveland Browns have been searching for.
Despite finishing 6-18 for 93 yards passing and one interception, Kizer displayed an ability to move Cleveland’s first team in going 5-10 on third downs, and establishing an apparent connection with second-year WR Corey Coleman in making three nice completions, while displaying quality arm strength in driving the ball downfield amidst less than ideal weather conditions in rainy west Florida.
Again, I know that this is just preseason and that Kizer was facing a bunch of basic and vanilla defenses, but traditionally, the third pre-season game is called the “dress rehearsal” for a reason. He may not have blown away all the analytics-driven stat geek armchair generals, who were likely tuning in to kill time before “The Money Fight” between Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather, but you’d never guess that Kizer completed only six passes, if you were watching it at first glance.
Kizer is the first rookie quarterback in recent memory that I can recall that didn’t LOOK like a typical rookie, as he showed no fear in throwing the ball deep down the middle, hanging in the pocket and showing leadership in the huddle.
Those are intangibles that cannot be measure or defined by perhaps the most overrated stat in football, QB passer rating.
While watching the game at my favorite watering hole, Parma Tavern, I was causally talking to two fellow fans during the game, and like me, they were blown away and impressed by Kizer’s poise, arm strength and ability to lead Cleveland’s first-team down the field.
You’d never guess that Kizer finished with a 28.2 rating, right? Again, most overrated stat in football.
We all equally groaned when ESPN did their usual QB-list name clowning during a segment in showing the long list of Browns quarterbacks who have failed in Cleveland. We get it! ESPN! There’s a reason why more viewers are tuning you out and switching to Fox Sports 1 and bush-league shaming like this.
As I stated in my Browns offensive preview here, Yes, we know all the jokes and puns made at Cleveland’s expense due to their failure in identifying a potential franchise QB to build around. If early indications out of Berea—and head coach Hue Jackson recently naming him the Week 1 starter vs. Pittsburgh mean anything, then they may have finally found one in the forementioned Kizer.
Since last season, and even heading into the draft, I had been one of the biggest proponents of second-year quarterback Cody Kessler, as he showed promise during his rookie year. But two concussions and questionable arm strength—which was painfully made more evident vs. Tampa Bay’s second and third-stringers, validated my change in my position at this point.
I love Kessler and I think he will become Kizer’s backup, one the Browns are able to cut/trade Brock Osweiler—as he was just nothing more but a glorified 6’8 brown and orange draped model and mannequin on the sidelines. The reason why Kizer is the smart choice at starter is that he is tailor-made for the AFC North-built at 6’4 and 235 pounds with a quality arm, that can pierce the cold and harsh winter winds that will swirl around First Energy Stadium.
I echo the sentiments of all my fellow Dawg Pound brethren in saying that its nice to finally have our own version of a big-bodied, strong-armed and mobile quarterback after been haunted by the specter of passing on Big Ben back in 2004 and most recently Carson Wentz out of North Dakota State last year.
Pittsburgh has Roethlisberger, Baltimore has Joe Flacco and Cincinnati has Andy Dalton, could Cleveland finally have their franchise guy in Kizer?
It may be too early to answer that, but if he continues to flash this type of potential, Cleveland may have finally found that elusive unicorn, they’ve been chasing for what seems to be an eternity.