In Cleveland, as one rookie stumbles, another ascends. On Sunday, the Cleveland Browns saw the anticipated debut of first-overall draft pick Myles Garrett, and he did not disappoint, delivering two sacks in his NFL debut—much like T.J. Watt did for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
But in the meantime, their rookie quarterback, second-round draft pick DeShone Kizer, was benched during the game, and in the aftermath, Head Coach Hue Jackson has determined that they would start his backup, Kevin Hogan, on Sunday.
Hogan was the forgotten man this summer as Kizer competed with last year’s primary starter, Cody Kessler, and veteran Brock Osweiler, whom they acquired via a trade that brought them a coveted second-round draft pick.
A fifth-round draft pick of the Chiefs last season, the Browns acquired Hogan after he was released, and they carried him on the roster all year, even seeing some playing time at different spots of the season. He actually had the best preseason this year of all of Cleveland’s quarterbacks.
Though given few opportunities, the second-year quarterback completed 21 of 32 passes over three preseason games with a 65.6 completion percentage, throwing for 269 yards at 8.4 yards per pass attempt, completing three touchdowns with no interceptions for a quarterback rating of 123.0.
Back in week two, after Kizer was knocked out of a game, Hogan completed five of 11 passes for 118 yards, with one touchdown and one interception. On Sunday, following the rookie’s benching, he came in against the Jets and completed 16 of 19 passes, throwing for 194 yards and two touchdowns, with one interception.
On the season, Kizer had been completing just 50.9 percent of his passes, 81 of 159, for a mere 851 yards, which translates out to a paltry 5.4 yards per pass attempt. He threw three touchdowns, and leads the league currently with nine interceptions, while having been sacked 12 times. He also scored two touchdowns with his legs, gaining 126 yards on 28 runs, losing two of three fumbles.
When Kizer was named the starter, Jackson spoke of him as the future, a player that they were going to ride with through the ups and downs. Following an 0-5 start, and mostly downs, he is now seeing it differently, viewing some time on the bench as in the rookie’s best interests.
He may not be wrong, but that does not mean that Kizer himself is very happy about his benching, as he intends to do everything in his power to get back into the starting lineup as soon as he possibly can. Kessler, in the meantime, is wondering still what in the world is going on.