DeShone Kizer didn't pout, didn't complain and didn't point fingers. The rookie quarterback approached a demotion as the Browns' starting quarterback with the same poise, professionalism and maturity that helped him earn the job in the first place.
"You want to do everything you can to be out there playing. I don't play this game to sit on the bench," Kizer said, "so now it's about accepting this as a challenge and doing whatever I can to get back out there and once again be the best quarterback and the best version of myself that I can be when I get back out there."
In the meantime, Kizer will trade his helmet for a ball cap as backup Kevin Hogan prepares for his first-career start at Houston this weekend. The team announced the lineup change Wednesday morning. Hogan, the second-year Stanford standout, passed for 194 yards, two touchdowns and an interception when he replaced his younger counterpart in Sunday's loss to the Jets.
"I think people think that I'm doing this because I'm maybe disappointed in certain things. I knew that this potentially could happen," head coach Hue Jackson said, referencing Kizer's highs and lows in his first five games. "At the end of the day, I have to do what I think is best to give our team the best opportunity to win and that's what this is all about. Nothing more, nothing less."
Kizer, the former Notre Dame standout and second-round pick, showed promise through the first month of the season but struggled with turnovers, including two in the red zone last weekend.
"I mean, obviously, when you're not the starting quarterback for the first time after winning the job, you're disappointed, but at the same time he understands," Jackson said of Kizer's response to the change. "I don't sugarcoat things with our players. I tell them exactly what it is, what we need to do, what we need to get better at and where we stand and I will say it again, DeShone Kizer has a huge future here with the Cleveland Browns. He needs to continue to grow, continue to get better and he will. There's no question in my mind that he will, but right now, I think this is what's best for our football team and that's the decision that I made."
Kizer expressed faith in Jackson, saying the head coach will continue to mentor him on the practice field and in the meeting room amid an 0-5 start that has challenged the Browns.
"The man has a plan. The plan was for me to be the starter all year. Yeah, it took an adjustment, but once again, there is a lot of thought that goes into a situation like this," Kizer said. "I completely trust the process that he's set up for me."
"The young man is very talented, very young. In a situation here to where things haven't been great and trying to take the whole world on his shoulders, I understand where he is and what he's been dealing with," Jackson said, "I have to calm those things down with him so that he can get back and get his rhythm back to playing like he did when it was in preseason and training camp … I don't think that this is the best version of DeShone that you guys have seen and I think he has work to do, but I think we all have work to do."
Kizer, who said he'll work on "small projects" as it relates to his growth as a quarterback, also stressed helping Hogan in his debut against one of the league's best defenses. He said it'll offer him a new perspective as he continues to learn.
"Supporting someone else can definitely enhance your own game in the sense that when you're on the sideline, you get a different angle," he said. "That angle definitely changes your mindset of how the play's going. When you're out there, things are flying so fast; you think you're seeing things, but from the sideline, you get a wider picture of what's actually going on."
To be certain, Kizer's goal is to improve and return to the field.
And while there's no timetable, that's no problem for the youngster.
"If another opportunity comes up to me to step back out on that field," Kizer said, "I have to be the best version of myself."