Breaking down DeShone Kizer
Tuesday was a very Cleveland day for me. I had lunch at one of the city’s finest and famous diners: Slyman’s, and as I drove home, nearly passing into a food coma from the pound of pastrami and swiss on rye I just ate, I decided to listen to a little Cleveland sports radio. And what I heard made me turn my head like a dog who is sort of confused about what its owner is doing: if you take a look at DeShone Kizer’s TD/INT ratio during his first few games and compare it to the last few, what you see is some objective improvement.
Now, as someone who has gone back and forth between wanting to take a QB at #1 next year or give Kizer the chance to prove himself and hope for a Jared Goff-esque progression between year 1 and year 2, this intrigued me.* So let’s take a look.
His absolute worst game of the year was against Tennessee in Week 7 where he went 12/20 for 114 yards with 0 TDs and 2 INTs with a QBR of 36.2. We will use that as the splitting point. Let’s look at his numbers for weeks 1-7 (he did not play Week 6), and then from 8-13.
First-Half Single Game Average
16/30 (53.33%) – 161 yards – 0 TDs – 2 INTs
93/179 (51.96%) – 965 yards – 3 TDs – 11 INTs – QBR 47.8
Second-Half Single Game Average
18/33 (54.55%) – 215 yards – 1 TDs – 1 INT
88/166 (53.01%) – 1,073 yards – 3 TDs – 4 INTs – QBR 69.2
So yes, these numbers don’t scream Super Bowl MVP. But reducing your TD/INT rate from 3/11 to 3/4 shows a QB that is learning to be smarter with the football. And the 20+ point increase in QBR is nothing to scoff at, granted that is mostly due to the reduction in INTs.
Now, the bad news.
Kizer still doesn’t really pass the eye test. Yes, he is learning to not make as many bad decisions with the ball, but he is still having accuracy issues. Last week could have been a story they make a Disney movie out of if Josh Gordon would have gone for 200 yards and 2 TDs in his first game back. And that was an honest possibility (the stat line at least, not sure if Disney is making movies containing the R-rated past of Josh Gordon) if Kizer was able to put a ball anywhere near Gordon on a couple deep throws where Josh had a step or two on the Chargers’ secondary.
Kizer also tends to shrink when the moment requires him to the biggest. A lot of his interceptions and fumbles have come late in the game when the Browns were trying to make a comeback. Most sabermetric folks will tell you there is no such thing as a clutch gene, but I for one refuse to accept that principle. Maybe they’re right and no one has it. But one thing is for sure: at least for now, Kizer definitely does not have it.
So do I think Kizer should get one more shot? I lean towards yes, but that is an article, or 50, for a different time come Spring 2018.
For now, I will see you all Sunday in the Muni Lot, if you are there, come help me celebrate my birthday a few days early.
*I wanted to compare Jared Goff’s stats from the first half of his 2016 season to the second to make a comparison between him and DeShone Kizer, but turns out Goff just stunk the whole time if you’re looking strictly at his numbers. The good news is in 2017 he has 20 TDs and 6 INTs and a 62.2% completion percentage. So maybe, just maybe, Kizer can do something similar. Or not. What’s that 2019 draft class looking like again?