By Seth Rivello
Another NFL season is ready to kick off and of course there is another quarterback under center for the Cleveland Browns. Here it is Cleveland: DeShone Kizer will be the 27th quarterback to start for the Browns since it re-entered as an expansion team in 1999. There has only been one quarterback since then to start a full season for the Browns; that was Tim Couch in 2001.
The 6’4”, 230-pound Notre Dame alumni Kizer is seasoned in winning quarterback competitions and college football games. In week two of the 2015 college football season, Notre Dame took on the Virginia Cavaliers with sophomore quarterback Malik Zaire under center. Late in the third quarter, Zaire went down with a broken ankle. Kizer, the backup at the time, trotted onto the field and never looked back. That 2015 season, Notre Dame went on to win 10 games and lose three (eight wins and three losses with Kizer) and make a Fiesta Bowl appearance taking on The Ohio State University. Notre Dame was defeated by 16, but Kizer put up good numbers. He threw for 284 yards and two touchdowns while adding another touchdown on the ground.
Kizer started off his junior year with positivity, beating out Malik Zaire for the starting quarterback job. Coming off a ten-win season and a bowl appearance, Kizer and Notre Dame fans were expecting the most. Long story short, the 2016 Notre Dame team was a dumpster fire. It finished with a record of 4-8 while Kizer flung 26 TDs, threw for 2,925 yards, and added eight rushing TDs.
Kizer steps into the Browns quarterback room with a huge chip on his shoulder and a lot of confidence, something the Browns’ quarterbacks have lacked in the past years.
“I do have the ability to be the greatest quarterback to ever play,” Kizer said in an interview with Tom Pelissero of USA Today. “Imagine taking (Tom) Brady’s intellect and Brady’s preparation and putting it on a guy with Cam Newton’s body. Why can’t I be the greatest? The only thing stopping me from it is me. That’s what’s driving me now.”
On Aug. 27, after Cleveland’s third preseason game, DeShone Kizer was announced the starter for week one versus the Pittsburgh Steelers. Kizer’s potential and big play ability won the job over the pitiful veteran, Brock Osweiler, and brain-bobbled second year quarterback, Cody Kessler. Through the three games, Kizer led Browns quarterbacks in passing attempts, completions, passing yards, yards per pass attempt and is tied in passing touchdowns with fourth stringer Kevin Hogan at one. Coach Hue Jackson says he feels “very comfortable” with Kizer under center and says he “manages the team well.”
Most teams improve from a one-win season but who knows? It is Cleveland, after all.
In free agency, the Browns stayed busy signing two stud offensive lineman in JC Tretter and Kevin Zeitler. They also signed a receiver coming off his best statistical season, Kenny Britt. After a strong free agency, the Browns then topped it off with a good draft. With one of its three picks in the first round, it selected the big, strong, wide receiver-like, tight end David Njoku from the University of Miami. Kizer has some big men up front to keep him safe, a hybrid tight end playmaker, and a good run game with Duke Johnson Jr. and Isaiah Crowell, not to mention second year playmaker Corey Coleman lined up in the slot and, depending on his reinstatement in the fall, number one receiver Josh Gordon. This team has a lot of upside, and it needed someone like Kizer to bring it out.