Coach Hue Jackson hasn’t made a decision on which quarterback will start the second preseason game Aug. 21 against the New York Giants.
And don’t try to rush him.
“It’s still too soon,” he said Friday on a conference call.
More importantly, Jackson doesn’t want to act impetuously when it comes to rookie DeShone Kizer, who led two touchdown drives Thursday night against the Saints, including throwing the winning 45-yard pass to Jordan Payton on fourth-and-2 with 1:58 left.
“It’s the making of a quarterback,” Jackson said. “It’s the raising of a quarterback, and I think that takes time. I don’t think you do things out of a knee-jerk reaction. You just don’t make decisions to make them. I think you kind of let things play themselves out, and they will.
“And if a guy is good enough and deserving of an opportunity, trust me, we’re not in a position where we wouldn’t give the best player an opportunity. So we’ll continue to work through this and when we think the time is right, whenever that is, then we’ll make that decision.”
Jackson said he’s weighing all the options.
He could start Kizer against the Giants but reserve the right to go back to Brock Osweiler for the start of the regular season. He could bump Kizer up to No. 2 ahead of Cody Kessler. He could name Kizer the starter moving forward. He could stick with Osweiler against the Giants but leave the door open for Kizer to take over at any time.
“Nothing’s off the table,” Jackson said. “I’m not in a position to really say where I am because I don’t want to lead you guys into thinking I’m thinking one thing when maybe I’m thinking another.”
Kessler opened training camp atop the depth chart but was bad and slipped to No. 2. Osweiler started against the Saints and was underwhelming, going 6-for-14 for 42 yards and a 50.3 rating.
Without a clear-cut better choice, Jackson was asked his concerns about going to Kizer right now.
“I just think that’s too soon. I mean, I don’t feel very comfortable,” Jackson said. “That’s why I haven’t made that decision. I think there’s a process to all of this, and I think we’re just in the beginning phases of it for him.
“You want to do what’s best for your team and for your players, not just because people see a bomb that’s thrown down the field for 45 yards. There’s more to playing quarterback than just that. So we’re not there yet. When it’s the right time to make the decision that we feel is right to say, ‘This is the quarterback of the Cleveland Browns for 2017,’ then we’ll make that decision.”
Kizer went 11-for-18 for 184 yards, a touchdown and a 114.1 rating playing the entire second half against Saints backups, and Jackson said he took a positive step.
“He threw the ball down the field, made some plays with his arm, made some plays with his legs and stood in the pocket with poise,” Jackson said.
It wasn’t all good for the No. 52 pick out of Notre Dame.
“There was calling the plays in the huddle. Making sure we execute the plays at the line of scrimmage,” Jackson said. “He’ll be the first to tell you that there are some things that were not DeShone Kizer-like from practice, the things he needs to work through and continue to get better at.”
Kizer was sacked three times and hung onto the ball too long on a couple of other plays.
“If the guy is unsure of a progression or if a guy is unsure of a coverage, he didn’t see the rotation of a safety, he didn’t see the rotation of a linebacker soon enough, so all of the sudden you don’t make the decision when it needs to happen, so you’re now searching,” Jackson said. “So you end up holding onto the ball a little bit, and he did do that a couple times.”
Kizer said he was never surprised in his first NFL action, got more comfortable as the game went on and was able to “let it rip.” That was obvious on the winner to Payton, when Kizer picked the go route — Jackson gave him two options — and lofted a perfect strike.
Kizer said it reminded him of his first start at Notre Dame against Virginia.
“That was a game-winning touchdown to Will Fuller down the same left side right around the same distance where you just let it go and you know you just put it in the right spot,” Kizer said after the game.
The Browns invested in the offensive line and defense in the offseason. That makes it easier to go with a rookie quarterback if Jackson determines the time is right.
“If that’s the decision that we make, I wouldn’t have any hesitation,” Jackson said.