CLEVELAND — Browns rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer struggled in Sunday's loss to the Chargers in Los Angeles and found it difficult to pick himself back up afterward.
Kizer, who has been through a roller coaster of highs and lows this season, expressed disappointment following another game where Cleveland watched a late rally fall short. Trailing 19-10 with under five minutes to play, Kizer was strip-sacked by Joey Bosa on a pivotal 3rd and goal. On the following possession, he was intercepted on deep throw over the middle.
Those kind of setbacks and an 0-12 record have started to weigh on the young signal caller, who has shown promise but struggled to consistently perform at that level. "The closer you get to the end of the season without achieving the goals you have," Kizer said, "the more frustrated you become."
Browns coach Hue Jackson noticed that exasperation Monday morning. "When I saw his face today, he was down. I'm being very honest with you," he said, "but I told him in front of the whole offensive football team, we're not doing that. We're not going to get down."
That's Jackson's message as the Browns continue searching for their first win. He also stressed Cleveland needs Kizer to keep his head up over the final four weeks of the season.
"I need his energy, his passion because he has done a lot of good things," Jackson said. "He's done some things that young quarterbacks do. I think we all get that. There are some things that he has to continue to fight through, but he has to keep working at it."
Through 11 starts, Kizer has completed 53 percent of his passes for 2,038 yards, six touchdowns and 15 interceptions. And though Sunday's performance was something of a microcosm of those ups and downs, Jackson believes the youngster will be better off because of it.
"I think DeShone's still a growing, young quarterback. I think he's working extremely hard. I think he is trying his tail off to win for his football team, and I think sometimes in those moments, you kind of revert back," Jackson said, referencing Kizer's old habits.
"You're going to take the good with the bad. He has done some good things. He did some things that he has to continue to grow and learn from. I'm not down on DeShone. I want DeShone to keep working at this thing. He knows he has my backing, my support, but he knows there are some areas he has to grow and grow up pretty fast, and I think he's taken that challenge."
Kizer, who has spoken of a desire to be the Browns' future at quarterback, shrugged off questions about the big picture and his progress throughout this season. Instead, the rookie is focused on helping Cleveland end a frustrating season on a higher note.
"I just want to win a game," he said. "That's all."
Jackson echoed a similar sentiment.
"He has a burning desire to be a really good quarterback because I've watched his work ethic," he said.
"The goal for me, for him are these next four weeks. One week at a time. Let's play as good as we can play and let's see if we can be consistent through these next four weeks and see if we can come out the other side of this, feeling really good about your first year's experience and get some wins."