Odds stacked against rookie QB…
Baltimore Ravens safety Tony Jefferson dug deep into the archives to get a better look at Deshone Kizer.
Jefferson went back as far as Kizer’s time at Notre Dame to to scout the Browns’ rookie quarterback. The Ravens teed off on Bengals veteran Andy Dalton in the opener, and Kizer can expect a similar reception Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.
Still, Jefferson and the rest of Baltimore’s defense are not taking Kizer lightly … and that’s not good news for the young signal caller.
“He hasn’t had much experience going up against NFL-ready defenses,” Jefferson said. “The more you can confuse the quarterback, the better stuff will happen. So, we’re going to try to do the best we can, disguising. But let’s just let our defense play the way we know it can play, and the outcome will be what we want it to be.”
Kizer had an encouraging performance against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the season opener. He completed 20 of his 30 pass attempts for 222 yards with a touchdown and interception.
However, Kizer committed the rookie mistake of holding the ball too long, and consequently, he was sacked seven times. He would be smart not to commit the same error against the Ravens.
Baltimore harassed Dalton from the opening whistle and forced four interceptions. Dalton also absorbed five sacks in the 20-0 drubbing. The defense paved the way for the Ravens’ first victory at Paul Brown Stadium since Week 17 of 2011.
If Baltimore plays at that level again, Kizer could be in for a long, frustrating day. Cleveland has already historically struggled at M&T Bank Stadium, going 4-14 since returning to the NFL.
“Strong arm – the kid has a strong arm,” Jefferson said about Kizer. “I think he’s going to be a good player in this league. We’re not going to take him lightly. He has some weapons, too. [Cleveland head coach] Hue Jackson is a great offensive mind, so we have to be ready.”
Kizer understands the challenge in front of him. He hopes competing against the Steelers’ aggressive defense helped prepare him for the Ravens.
However, playing back-to-back games against Pittsburgh and Baltimore would be a huge challenge for any quarterback, especially for a rookie.
“Welcome to the NFL,” Kizer said about knocking heads with a pair of AFN North rivals in consecutive games. “Welcome to the AFC North. This is what we signed up for when Cleveland decided to bring me in here. I have been doing a lot of preparation up to these games to try and learn as much as I can about this division and schematically what teams like to do. Now, going against Baltimore and Pittsburgh, I will learn quickly what it takes to win in this conference.”
The challenge, however, does not end with developing effective game strategy for Kizer and the rest of the Browns. The Ravens are playing their home opener in a sold-out M&T Bank Stadium. The players expect the crowd to be boisterous throughout the game, adding to their advantage.
Starting rookie quarterbacks have gone 0-5 at M&T Bank Stadium, according to ESPN.
It will be another “Welcome to the NFL” moment for Kizer.
“I heard it’s going to be really loud, so it’s probably going to exceed what I thought it’d be – just like when I came here,” Jefferson said. “Everybody said it’d be a good place; it’s a great place, great people. I can’t wait until Sunday.”