BEREA (92.3 The Fan) – After leading the Browns to a 20-14 win in the second half last Thursday night against New Orleans, DeShone Kizer became the odds on favorite among fans to win the starting job.
Sunday morning, Browns quarterbacks coach David Lee pumped the brakes on Kizer-mania.
“He’s a lot better than he was in the spring, but he’s still not there. And he knows it,” Lee said of the rookie from Notre Dame.
The next two preseason games should tell Lee – and head coach Hue Jackson – if Kizer is ready for Week 1 against Pittsburgh.
“You get three [games] under your belt, you’ve got a pretty good feeling about what your quarterback can do and can’t do,” Lee said.
Kizer was impressive in his debut, completing 11 of 18 passes for 184 yards and a touchdown, including the game-winner with less than 2 minutes to play and a 45-yard strike. Kizer also hit on a 52-yard completion that set up an earlier touchdown.
Lee acknowledged why it’s so easy to get so excited about Kizer.
“He gives you big play ability in the passing game at the quarterback position,” Lee said. “You guys saw it the other day with the two deep balls. He has a great, long arm. He can throw corner routes, post routes, skinny post on a line. He doesn’t limit you. You just get to throw whatever you want to because he has got such great arm talent.”
Lee and the Browns haven’t held back as far as installing the offense with Kizer, but Lee has also been trying to break some of Kizer’s bad habits, especially mechanically, which takes time.
“This kid is bright, he’s smart,” Lee said.
Kizer will be tested again a week from Monday night on Aug. 21 on national TV against the New York Giants, and the expectation is that Kizer will take another step forward.
“That is what we need is put him in the real lights on a national television game and see if he can carry these fundamentals that we are harping on him over and over and over into the game,” Lee said. “He is trying and he is doing better. Has he got it mastered? Not yet. We have to know that he can do all of it before we put him out there full time. He is not ready for that yet.”
Brock Osweiler, who completed 6 of 14 passes for just 42 yards in 4 offensive series, did not have as bad of a debut as everyone thought according to Lee.
“He did a lot of really good things,” Lee said. “You look back to the fade ball to Kenny Britt. Kenny’s got one foot down and if he can drive it into the ground we’ve got a touchdown. He misses Seth [DeValve] about four inches going in. I mean, there’s 14 points. He only played about 28 plays or something.
“He was just close, and he was jacked up. He was feeling it [but] he’s doing fine.”
Lee is also trying to break some of Osweiler’s mechanical issues, including his stride when throwing that causes the ball to take off and sail too much on throws which was evident Thursday night on incompletions to receiver Ricardo Louis and tight end Seth DeValve.
“It is not muscle memory yet. His lower body has not memorized it,” Lee said. “It is so hard because when the bullets start flying, old habits will take over. You just come back and stay on him.”
Osweiler remains with the first team offense, while Kizer is once again getting reps with the ones after Cody Kessler works with the second-team.
The one thing Lee isn’t worried about is Kizer’s confidence.
“DeShone has enough confidence for the whole team,” Lee said. “I’m not worried about his confidence. He’s good about taking instruction. He’s good about trying to do what we want him to do. Has it all happened yet? Not yet, but it’s coming.”