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Hue Jackson conference call - 8/27


Head Coach Hue Jackson:**

Opening statement:

"After watching the tape of our football team, the defense continues to take positive steps. Obviously, we have been really aggressive and fast and played with some really good discipline on that side of the ball. It is impressive that we haven't allowed a touchdown the last two games and it is really good to see our drafted players making an impact, talking about (LB) (Joe) Schobert, (DB) (Jabrill) Peppers, (DL) (Myles) Garrett, (DL) (Emmanuel) Ogbah and (DL) (Carl) Nassib. (Defensive coordinator) Coach (Gregg) Williams has done a really nice job in the way he is utilizing personnel and allowing guys to use their strengths.

"Offensively, I like that we were able to move the ball a bit. I will always be disappointed if we score 13 points, though, but we did some things that I liked. We were pretty good at protecting the quarterback for the most part. Having (OL) Joe Thomas back is always a big difference. We did a nice job in some sequences running the football. We have committed to the run and we were effective with it at times. It was nice to see our offense score the game-winning drive in the fourth quarter. That is good for our football team. We always talk about small wins around here, and that was a good example of that. (QB) Kevin (Hogan) did a great job with that time. We are sick about the turnovers. We are sick about the dropped passes. It is something we have to continue to work on because those things will hurt our football team during the regular season, but after watching the tape I was mostly pleased with the way (QB) DeShone (Kizer) played. He is a young quarterback – there is going to be room for improvement – but I thought he handled that role extremely well.

"I thought our special teams, outside of the penalties, did some nice things. They were very consistent, but again, we have to clean up this penalty issue throughout our football team. It is not just special teams; it is offensively and defensively.

"The last thing I want to leave you guys with before anybody asks the question, DeShone is our starting quarterback. He has earned the right to play through his preparation. He has established a work ethic that I think has earned the respect of his teammates. I think it will forward him the ability to [run the] offense as we move forward, which hopefully will lead to success. It has been good to watch his development throughout the offseason. Obviously, he is a young quarterback and he still has a lot to learn. He is going to learn a lot and gain a lot of experience, and the only way you get that is by playing. We are all excited about that."

On if Kizer needs to play in the final preseason game at Chicago on Thursday:

"I haven't made that decision yet. I am going to go through this week. We are going to practice. There is still a lot of practice, but I will make that decision about if he is going to play and who I will stick him out there with by the end of the week."

On an injury update:

"(RB) Danny Vitale, he had an ankle last night so he will be limited. He will be down for a little bit, I believe."

On who will be the Browns' backup QB:

"I am going to really work through that here in the next day as we go through practice and see what I think is the best road for us to travel. Obviously, all three of those guys are in the mix, from (QBs) Brock (Osweiler) to Kevin to Cody (Kessler) and we will just see how we want that to play out as we move along during the week."

On Kizer's performance last night at Tampa Bay, despite the statistics:

"His pocket presence again continues to stand out. He made a play while on the move to (WR) Corey (Coleman) early, which was a third down, a beautiful play. I thought that he did a good job of redirecting protections and managing that part of it extremely well. He put the team in good situations to be successful. As I just said, around him we all have to do our jobs better to better support him. When there is a chance to catch the ball, we have to catch it, and when there is a chance to hold onto it in the scoring zone, we have to do that, but I thought he led the team and gave us opportunities to score points, which we didn't finish as a unit."

On if Kizer's final last two drives not being as successful is a concern:

"Absolutely, that was concerning, but again, I know why those things are and we will be able to correct those. There are still some fundamental things he has to work through, but he demonstrates those things in other areas during the game. It is just the consistency of playing in the National Football League from play in and play out. The pressure of playing 30 plays or 35 plays, whatever it was for him, down in and down out of making the right decisions and doing it right, that is something he is going to grow to. That is why, as I mentioned earlier, he is still a young quarterback but with a lot of talent. He doesn't have the experience, but the only way he is going to gain that experience is by playing."

On if the Browns are committed to Kizer starting for the long term, given rookies may struggle early:

"Absolutely. This is not just for the moment. We are going to get with DeShone, ride with him through it all and work with him through all of this. You said it, those things are going to happen, and I think we get that. He gets that. We are not going to blink about it. We are just going to correct it and keep moving forward."

On if there is disappointed in the performance of WRs other than Corey Coleman:

"I'm not going to say disappointed. I just want to continue… There is still another opportunity to have those things show up. I think these guys are trying extremely hard. They have done a great job of blocking downfield. Sometimes their number is called and we don't get the ball to them. Sometimes their number is called and we are not in the right spot. What we have to do is continue to work at it, keep getting better and see if we can get there."

On how exciting Kizer's potential is for the team:

"It is very exciting. When we drafted this young man, there was a purpose in drafting him. We thought that he had exactly what we were looking for. As we kept diving into this process of spending time with him and making him our draft pick and from the first conversation I had with him up through now, it has been about how we can get him to be the best that he can be. I give (Executive Vice President of Football Operations) Sashi (Brown) and the executive team a lot of credit. I think we all dove into this the right way to go find a guy who hopefully can solve our quarterback issue. Again, it is not over with yet. This guy has been named the starter, but he still has to earn the right to be the starting quarterback for this team week in and week out and I think he gets that, but he has the talent, he has the makeup and he has the things we are looking for. Now, we just have to go get him and push him onto that next level."

On discussions with Kizer on the sidelines and if Kizer is seeing the field the way he expects:

"Oh, absolutely. That is why, like I said last night, he has the right feel, he has the right temperament and when he comes over, the conversations we have are the kind of conversations you want to have with your quarterback. We are able to go back through the last series and look at the pictures and talk through coverages. It is not like he doesn't understand or that he is lost. He gets it. Sometimes he is able to tell me before I can even get it out. 'I should have seen this,' or 'I thought this was this way.' You want to have those kind of conversations with your quarterback."

On how much consideration the Browns gave to drafting Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky, given the two teams play this week:

"That is not worth talking about. Mitch is playing in Chicago, and I'm sure he is doing well there. We are happy with DeShone."

On the biggest area Kizer has improved since joining the team:

"I think the understanding of defenses, NFL defenses and how they try to do everything they can to dictate games. The defense's No. 1 job is to rattle the quarterback. We have to understand how they are trying to attack him and take him out of his game because normally, if you can get the quarterback to not have a very good day, you have a chance to win the game. I think he is understanding that teams are game planning for the quarterback and not so much for the offense but that it is truly for the quarterback."

On Kizer taking more snaps from under center and if he is improving in that area:

"He looked much better than he did the week before. It started with his stance. It is something that we worked on a lot in practice, and I think he is getting more comfortable doing that. As I said to you guys the other day, we have to play from a lot of different places within our offense, whether it is under center or in the shotgun. That is another area that he will continue to work and improve."

On what the Browns need to improve on defense prior to the season opener:

"Every now and then, still the ball will pop out of there. I think it is about everybody understanding their gaps and the communication, but boy, are we vastly improved in that area over watching all of the things we have all seen in the past. I give a lot of that credit to Gregg and to our players and the rest of the staff. They have done a great job of implementing a system, having true belief in it and making it work. We are a defense that is playing well, but there is still another level for us, as well."

On if he is surprised at all by how the QB competition finished:

"Yeah, it does because you are talking about a player (Kessler) who started quite a few games here a year ago and a guy who has played in the National Football League (Osweiler). That is why you just never know how things are going to turn out and just kind of let it play itself out. That is what I said from the beginning. Regardless of how it was going to end up, we were going to play it out and make the best choice for our football team as we move forward. This is what it has led us to."

On the attractiveness of Kizer's talents with his arm and his mobility:

"Anytime that you have a player who can win in different ways, I think it is important because obviously, he can win with his arm – he has tremendous arm talent – and then he can win with his legs because he is athletic enough and he is a big guy. He has the characteristics, as I mentioned earlier, that we covet. We have to continue to get him to use those at the best of his ability."

On if many opportunities still remain as to who will make the roster heading into Thursday's game:

"Thursday's game has a huge purpose in shaping the rest of our football team. There were some really good battles going on last night in some positions. We will have to finish those off this week. This is a huge game for our football team and for players individually. I think they get it and understand that. I think they are all looking forward to it."

On if the Browns need to acquire a WR and how to improve at the position:

"I am going to leave that up to (Executive Vice President of Football Operations) Sashi (Brown) and his group, but I think what we have to do as coaches and guys who are here is we have to make those plays when those opportunities present themselves. That is how I can help and our coaching staff can help manage this."

On if Kizer would not play Thursday simply to be sure he remains healthy, given he is a rookie who needs experience:

"Absolutely, again, if he is going to be out there for a series or two, maybe it is not worth the opportunity of putting him out there. I just haven't made that decision yet about our football team and how much anybody is playing. We will cross that bridge here pretty soon."

On if either K took a lead in the competition:

"I don't know if anybody has taken the lead. That thing is really close. We feel good about both of the players (Ks Zane Gonzalez and Cody Parkey), and it is going to come down to the wire. Both have done a tremendous job. We are going to look at that very closely this week as we go through this game on Thursday."

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