Roll with DeShone Kizer
Hello, Cleveland. It’s me again. That guy who yelled at you for not recognizing the mistakes of history. I wanted to commend you on taking some of my advice like investing in defense and trusting your scouts to find you a quarterback of the future. I know your QB pen heading into this season wasn’t great and now you’ve decided to roll with DeShone Kizer. Make no mistake, this is a great move. Brock Osweiler did not impress and Cody Kessler was never going to electrify as anything more than a competent backup. Throwing your rookie into the fire is a very smart decision. Typically, the logic would be to let your rookie sit and learn but what exactly is he going to learn behind this guy?
Kizer is the right choice. He’s not going to save your season or anything and you certainly won’t be fighting for a wild card spot, let alone your division title. But you should feel really proud of what you’ve built here. You signed a solid offensive lineman, had a solid draft two years in a row, and have a lot of raw young talent you can build around. Not only that, but Hue Jackson is your coach! Things are really trending upward!
So please please hear me out when I tell you that you are primed to really blow it.
It’s in your nature, Cleveland. We see it time and time again. You throw young guys into the fire, then they fizzle out because you can’t put a team around them. You cut them, then throw your hands up into the air and yell “rebuild!” — and we start this whole agonizing process all over again.
Here’s a brief recap of all the quarterbacks you have drafted and sent to the curb. You may notice a disturbing trend:
2016: Cody Kessler
Still available: Dak Prescott
2014: Johnny Manziel
Still Available: Derek Carr
2012: Brandon Weeden
Still Available: Russell Wilson
2010: Colt McCoy
Still Available: Jimmy Graham
2007: Brady Quinn
Still Available: Greg Olsen
2005: Charlie Frye
Still Available: Evan Mathis
2004: Luke McCown
Still Available: Jared Allen
1999: Tim Couch
Still Available: Donovan McNabb
You see what I’m getting at here? On average, you replace a rookie quarterback every two years or so. Not a single one of these guys survived their rookie contract with you. In addition, these drafts had quarterbacks who would go on to be named to the Pro Bowl DURING their rookie contract and two future Super Bowl participants, one of whom became a Super Bowl champion. Furthermore, if there wasn’t a better quarterback available, there was certainly an offensive weapon that could have really aided any quarterback or a future Hall of Fame defender.
And I know, you’ve been hearing the “well they could have picked” stuff for 18 years. I get it, you get it. That’s not the point here. The problem isn’t that you don’t know how to pick ’em. It’s that for 18 years, you’ve been amazingly bad at facilitating rookie growth. At the first sign of trouble, you head for the hills and leave your guys to rot. Granted, there were some really really really bad choices in these picks.
Nevertheless, even if you picked a potentially great quarterback, I have no doubt you’d ditch them if they didn’t live up to expectations in their first few seasons. Peyton Manning broke the interception record his rookie year. Brett Favre didn’t even get to play as a rookie and his first throw was a pick 6. Steve Young went 2-12 when he was allowed to start. Knowing your poor management skills and lack of foresight up to this point, I can confidently say that none one of them would last long in a Browns uniform.
Let’s not do this to DeShone Kizer, Cleveland. I’ll give you a few reasons why:
For starters, Kizer is your most promising prospect this century. I don’t need to tell you how impressive he’s been this preseason, but I will anyway. Kizer is great under pressure. Not afraid to take off while protecting the ball. He finds a way to move forward. He has great awareness and his footwork is impressive. Kizer’s accuracy is a little wonky right now, but that will clear up under Hue’s wing. And best of all, he’s got confidence. He likes playing for you. His teammates play better when he’s under center as opposed to Osweiler.
The kid carries himself like a franchise guy. Listen to one his first interviews before he ever even knew he was going to be your starter. He was ready with answers, came across as confident, and he has what I like to call “quarterback voice.” It’s a very particular cadence that franchise guys have mastered. You use long sentences, use powerful leadership words, know when to place your thinking “uhs” and coming up with an eloquent response. It’s still young, but Kizer’s got it. He sounds like Cam, Rodgers, and Wilson. That’s amazing.
Now, you don’t yet know if you have a Derek Carr or a Blake Bortles on your hands. But I want you to look at how both teams treated these guys. Derek Carr’s rookie year: 3-13 record, 21 TDs to 12 INTs. Stat wise, not bad. The Raiders woes extended far beyond quarterback, but he wasn’t exactly saving them either. A mere two seasons later and Carr got himself a contract extension that made him the highest paid quarterback in the league for a few months. He led his team to the playoffs for the first time in 14 years. The Raiders believed in their young guy and built a team around him. Carr responded with increased wins, yards, and touchdowns.
Derek Carr’s rookie year included a 3-13 record, 21 TDs, and 12 INTs. Stat wise, not bad. The Raiders woes extended far beyond quarterback, but he wasn’t exactly saving them either. A mere two seasons later and Carr got himself a contract extension that made him the highest paid quarterback in the league for a few months. He led his team to the playoffs for the first time in 14 years. The Raiders believed in their young guy and built a team around him. Carr responded with increased wins, yards, and touchdowns.
Blake Bortles rookie year included a 3-10 record, 11 TDs, and 17 INTs. That’s not great, but Bortles showed some potential. He looked like a guy who could really develop into something with some application and team building. The Jaguars surrounded Bortles with weapons, beefed up their defense, and are still coming short. But note, Bortles has played all three years. And he’ll still be starting for Jacksonville at the start of this season. Jacksonville invested in their quarterback and it hasn’t played out but they know for a fact that it hasn’t played out. You have to see things through to know exactly what you’re getting.
In fact, the Jaguars can be a great example of when it’s the right time to blow things up. After years of mediocrity, they fired Gus Bradley. Now there are talks of moving from Bortles. This is all good. Jacksonville tried something and saw it through.
We’re all secretly rooting for you, Cleveland. Steelers, Bengals, and Ravens fans might not be; however, the rest of us would love to see a Cleveland team that can keep pace. There have been great moves made. And if you want those great moves to pan out, you have to let them pan out. We don’t want to hear about a Cleveland reboot again this decade. I don’t want to have to have this chat with you until 2020 if at all. Let Kizer Roll!