CLEVELAND (AP) The quarterback carousel for the Browns has become a carnival.
One week after sitting turnover-prone rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer for an entire game, Cleveland coach Hue Jackson benched him in the second half of a 12-9 overtime loss to the Tennessee Titans.
The sudden, surprising move seemed to scream desperation from Jackson, who dropped to 1-22 in two seasons and could be in jeopardy of not finishing 2017.
It’s bad enough that he’s swapping quarterbacks, but Jackson’s team has also been undisciplined – on and off the field.
The Browns (0-7) committed 12 penalties against the Titans, and afterward Jackson had to address a report that Kizer was out at a local nightclub until early Saturday. The development with Kizer came after disappointing wide receiver Kenny Britt was fined for missing curfew last week in Houston and sent home along with injured wide receiver Corey Coleman.
And if all that wasn’t enough for Jackson, 10-time Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas suffered a serious triceps injury, ending his streak of more than 10,000 consecutive plays and maybe his season.
The Browns have found a new low.
Meanwhile, the Titans enter their bye week tied for first in the AFC South following a victory with few redeemable qualities.
”It’s tough to win in this league,” quarterback Marcus Mariota said. ”It doesn’t matter who you’re playing or what the opponent is. We came out with the win and that’s all that matters.”
Safety Kevin Byard had three interceptions and Ryan Succop kicked a game-winning field goal – his fourth – with 1:55 left for the Titans (4-3).
Jackson, who earlier this season said he was prepared to ride with Kizer through whatever ups and down may come, strongly defended his decision to pull the second-round pick in favor of Cody Kessler. Kizer has thrown a league-leading 11 interceptions, and after his second one against the Titans , Jackson made a change.
Jackson said he can’t worry about Kizer’s confidence when he has 52 other players to worry about.
”I am sure he doesn’t want the yoyo, but it goes both ways,” he said. ”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. That is the name of the game. It is not just about one individual. It is about the team.”
Kizer was obviously upset with his latest demotion, which came after he had played relatively clean first half – 12 of 19 for 114 yards – before throwing an interception with 30 seconds left to end a possible scoring drive.
”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 was caught off guard by Kizer’s late-night outing. The quarterback did not break any team rules, but given the circumstances with the Browns struggling, it was not an ideal look.
Kizer twice said he did not want to discuss his personal life. However, he said his actions did not reflect any lack of commitment.
”Absolutely not,” he said. ”I was out. I was at the facility the next day, preparing for the game and the game right before that.”
Jackson said he wanted to watch the tape before making any decisions on his starting quarterback going forward.
”Everything right now is on the table,” he said. ”How can it not be?”
Here are some other takeaways from Tennessee’s second win in six days:
STREAK STOPPED: Thomas had never missed a play in his career when he went out with 5:44 left in the third quarter, a moment that perhaps sums up the state of the Browns more than any other.
Thomas will undergo an MRI on Monday. The 32-year-old had dodged injuries his entire career, but this time he couldn’t.
”I was enough of a realist to understand that I wasn’t going to be able to continue on forever without missing a play,” he said. ”It was just a matter of time and unfortunately it happened in Week 7. I wish I could have been out there to help my teammates, but it’s football and those things happen.”
WALKER HURT: Titans tight end Delanie Walker sprained his right ankle after making a 16-yard catch in overtime. Walker, who came in with a calf injury, couldn’t put any weight on his leg and had to be carted to the locker room.
He finished with seven catches for 63 yards.
Coach Mike Mularkey didn’t want to speculate on how long Walker might be out.
”Fortunately, with the bye, that will help us get him another week,” he said.
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