CLEVELAND — DeShone Kizer‘s return to the starting lineup on Sunday lasted one half and three plays. Cody Kessler replaced Kizer with the Browns trailing the Tennessee Titans 6-3 and 9:32 left in the third quarter.
When the game, which the Browns lost 12-9 in overtime, was over, Kizer had to answer the difficult question about being pulled for the second time this season, and then had to answer uncomfortable questions about a video Channel 19 in Cleveland said it possessed showing him at a downtown bar at about 1:30 a.m. ET on Saturday.
After twice saying he was not going to talk about his personal life, Kizer was told about the video. He said “absolutely not” when asked if it showed a lack of commitment.
“I was out,” Kizer said. “I was at the facility the next day, preparing for the game and the game right before that. Once again, I am not here to talk about my personal life.”
Coach Hue Jackson said there were no curfew issues. A team spokesman said that on Saturday players are not required to be at the team facility until early to mid-afternoon.
Told about the report Kizer was out late, Jackson said it “means a lot.”
“A guy’s personal time is his personal time, but I still think that is not what our guys do,” Jackson said. “I think our guys work at what they do, and I would be surprised if that happened. I have never heard of that. I don’t think DeShone has that kind of character or personality that way.”
Told there was a video, Jackson said: “That is the first I have heard of it. I appreciate you guys sharing that with me. Thank you.”
When Jackson exited his news conference, he crossed paths with Kizer in the hallway as the quarterback headed toward the interview room. Jackson pulled Kizer back in the locker room for a brief discussion before Kizer met the media.
Before he was pulled from Sunday’s game, Kizer had thrown interceptions on consecutive passes to end the first half and start the second. Kessler guided the Browns to a game-tying field goal with 51 seconds left, but he could not generate any offense in two overtime drives in the loss that dropped the Browns to 0-7.
Jackson said he will not accept turnovers. It’s the second time in three games Kizer has been pulled, and in the third game he was benched for Kevin Hogan.
“I am sure he doesn’t want the yo-yo,” Jackson said. “But it goes both ways. Developing quarterbacks, they still have to do what you asked them to do. In that process of developing a quarterback, I want them to not turn the ball over.”
The Browns had moved the ball better in the first half, and Kizer had completed 12-of-19 before throwing a late interception on first down from the Titans’ 28-yard line. The Browns trailed 6-3 at halftime.
“As an offense, I felt like we were starting to head in the right direction to winning the football game,” Kizer said. “When an adjustment like that is made, of course I am going to be frustrated.”
Jackson said the turnovers trumped any effect the move may have made on Kizer’s confidence.
“Today I can’t worry about confidence,” Jackson said. “You guys keep talking about confidence. We are in the business of winning games.”
Kessler had been inactive every game before Sunday, serving as the third quarterback behind Kizer and Hogan.
“Everybody keeps talking about confidence,” Jackson said. “I am not worried about confidence. I have 52 other guys in there to worry about their confidence and trying to win.”
Kizer finished 12-for-20 for 114 yards, with no touchdowns and two interceptions. His rating before he was replaced was 36.2. For the season, Kizer had thrown an NFL-high 11 interceptions, eight inside the opponent’s 40, also an NFL high. Cleveland.com reported that Friday after practice Kizer held a players’ only meeting to try to bring people together to get an elusive win.
“I am not just worried about the quarterback,” Jackson said. “I know you guys are, but I am not. However you take that, you take it, but my job is to put us and put people out there that gives us the best chance to win. That is it.”
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