CLEVELAND — Hue Jackson offered DeShone Kizer a vote of confidence Friday as the Browns attempt to climb out of an 0-8 start.
Jackson said the rookie quarterback, who's set to make his eighth start in nine games this weekend at Detroit, has a bright future despite growing pains through the first half of the season.
"I'll still go on record saying I think this guy is going to be a really good player in time, but there is work to be done," Jackson said. "We all want the instant success, but it's going to take a little bit of team because I think it's not just him. I think the whole offensive team has to do their part, too, but does he have to play better? Yes, he does. I think he recognizes that, so there's no question about that."
Indeed, Kizer has struggled (three touchdowns, 11 interceptions) and been benched at halftime twice because of turnovers, especially in the red zone. But the second-round pick from Notre Dame hasn't received a ton of help from his receivers or a run game that's been inconsistent thus far.
Because of that, Jackson said it's too soon to effectively gauge Kizer's long-term potential but stressed the youngster must play better in the final eight weeks of the season. There's also a hope the bye week might have offered Kizer, who had a better showing two weeks ago against the Vikings in London, a chance to self-reflect.
"He was able to see the things that he needs to improve on and do better," Jackson said. "I think he's had a really good week of practice, and I think we have a game plan that is conducive to giving him a chance to be what I think he can be from play in and play out. Now, he has to go execute and go do it. It's not just him. I think the other 10 guys have to do their part too, but I think he's going to go play well. It's the second half of the season. It's our first game after the bye, so he needs to go establish the kind of quarterback he wants to be in the second half of the season."
Jackson also made clear the team's unsuccessful trade for Bengals backup quarterback AJ McCarron last week at the NFL's trade deadline wasn't necessarily a reflection of their evaluation of the young and growing Kizer.
"My job as a head coach is to always push for better talent on this football team. I don't care what position it is. Especially being in that position," he said.
"I don't think that is a knock on DeShone. My job is, again, to help build this football team and build the future of this team. I still believe he is going to be in the future of this team, but in the meantime, if there's a way for us to get better – I know everybody keeps talking about winning, which is very important to me, very important in that locker room and very important to our fans – then I think it's only fair to be always looking to become better."
Jackson believes Kizer, who viewed last week as a challenge and chance to improve himself, will rise to the occasion in these final two months.
"I think he's grown from all of these things that have happened," he said. "Hopefully, he'll come out of the other side of it and do what we all feel he can do, but until then, all of these things are going to be said and written and all of that. I get that. I think he does too, now."