We're making the transition to fall, but the Browns are preparing for a balmy weekend in Indianapolis.
We've got five questions before we hit the road to Naptown. [
At the beginning of the season it was expected that the offense, especially DeShone Kizer, would go through some growing pains. What do you expect to see in terms of growth over the next three-four games? -- Brooks P., Cincinnati
Each week is a learning experience for the rookie quarterback, and Sunday's game against the Colts will provide Kizer with another important opportunity to improve and become the quarterback Hue Jackson envisions he can be. There's learning through positives and negatives, and the negatives that surfaced in last week's loss to the Ravens will hopefully make him better this weekend and the future games to come.
"He has to go through it. Do I like going through it? No. But I also like having a quarterback that we all feel comfortable with that potentially could be the guy for years to come in this organization," Jackson said. "That is what I think is important. I think we have to allow him to do that. I think we all have to allow him to do that. I have said before, we are going to ride with him through the good and the bad. Doesn't mean I like it, but I'm going to ride with him through it because I think he has what it takes."
The two biggest areas Kizer can grow in the coming weeks are turnovers and sacks. He had four turnovers in the loss to the Ravens and took seven sacks against the Steelers. He can take steps toward improving those himself, of course, and he should be aided by the players around him, too. As the weeks progress, he'll become more and more comfortable with a new-look receiving corps that has been through a lot of turnover in recent weeks. And he'll be the beneficiary of an offensive line that is expected to get better and better as it develops more chemistry. And, in theory, a running game behind that offensive line should improve and make things easier for the rookie quarterback.
Do you think Kevin Hogan should be the starting quarterback? Kevin seems to have great poise and a gunslinger's arm with accuracy to match. While DeShone Kizer is a very talented athlete, is it not too premature to allow a true rookie to lead this new-look offense? -- Brishawn S., Toledo
I don't. Kizer won the job in the preseason by proving he was the best quarterback with the most upside, and the Browns have vowed to ride the waves with him through good and bad. Also, after two games, Kizer has more career regular season snaps under center than Hogan, who is very young in his own right as a second-year player. Hogan has certainly impressed and was rewarded for his improvement with an elevation to the second-team offense, but, simply put, Kizer is Cleveland's starter.
Why don't we use the running game more with a rookie QB in there? They have a lot of money in that new offensive line, so run the ball. Fourteen rushes in Week 2. Come on, really. -- George H., Caldwell
The Browns haven't run the ball the way they envisioned through the first two weeks of the season. There's no way around it. But there's optimism and real belief that it's going to turn around, and in a hurry.
"They are very, very close. I will say that," run game coordinator/running backs coach Kirby Wilson said. "They are very close to getting this thing turned around. Once it does, we think that will open the floodgates and you will see some great success in the run game."
The aforementioned gelling of the offensive line will play a big part in it. The Browns have played from behind through the majority of their first 120 minutes of the season and have yet to hold a lead. When they inevitably grab a lead, they'll be in a better position to dictate the flow of the game and ease some of the pressure off of their rookie quarterback.
Game No. 2: Again, special teams. How many times have punt returners "let the ball go," I guess hoping for a touchback, rather than catch the ball (even if it's a fair catch)? Again, is it special teams that help give the Browns such horrible field position? -- Elmer L., Bangor, Maine
Dynamic returner Jabrill Peppers has displayed a veteran's level of patience through the first two weeks, and special teams coordinator Chris Tabor has been pleased with his decision-making. The Browns faced one of the best kicker-punter duos in the league last week in Justin Tucker and Sam Koch, and they made life difficult for Peppers, who was mostly relegated to kneeling kickoffs and fair catching punts.
"For a young player, he is being respected. I think he understands that and is smart," Tabor said. "I don't see that guy hitting the panic button of like, 'hey I have to try to do something here.' That is not who he is because he is just a good football player. He lets things come naturally to him."
I'm confused about the release of Ed Reynolds, the Browns safety who started many games last year. I believe he was released with an injury designation. What does that mean? Can he return to the Browns when healthy? I think he'd add depth to the safety position. -- Rich S., Columbus
Reynolds, who suffered an injury at the start of training camp, was waived with an injury designation Aug. 29. He reverted to the Browns injured reserve a day later when he went unclaimed. On Sept. 4, Reynolds was released from the injured reserve, allowing him to sign with any other team and potentially play this season. Had he stayed with the Browns on injured reserve, he would not have been able to play this season. Cleveland can't re-sign Reynolds this season.