NFL

Another starting QB for Browns

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

(TSX / STATS) -- BEREA, Ohio -- The Cleveland Browns are making another quarterback change.

After starting the season 0-5 with DeShone Kizer at quarterback, head coach Hue Jackson on Wednesday decided to bench the rookie and start Kevin Hogan against the Texans in Houston.

"We've liked what Kevin has been able to do within our offense when he's been in there and he will start on Sunday because that's what we feel is best for our team at this point in time," Jackson said.

"This does not change the way we feel about DeShone going forward. He has worked extremely hard and still very much has a bright future. Right now, it's better for him and his development to back up Kevin."

Hogan, a second-year player who originally was a fifth-round pick by the Kansas City Chiefs last year, will be the 28th quarterback to start for the Browns since 1999.

He has completed 26 of 38 passes for 377 yards with three touchdown passes and two interceptions this season. He has a 104.8 passer rating.

"It's another opportunity to go out there and play some ball, which I love," Hogan said. "I played a lot of games in college, and when I was out there the other day, it felt like I was in college again.

"I'm looking forward to the opportunity. I'm going to prepare my butt off this week for the guys around me and make sure they have confidence in me and trust me to lead them so that I'm feeling good going into Sunday."

Hogan will not have to carry the offensive load alone. The Browns want to put emphasis on the running game after rushing for 140 yards against the Jets in a 17-14 loss last Sunday. The Browns had 419 yards of offense in the game.

"The offensive line the last two weeks have personally given up zero sacks," Jackson said. "We had one sack (in the Jets game), and that was on our quarterback at that particular point in time. It was not on the offensive line.

"The week before I think we had two and those were both on our quarterback so they have improved. We ran the ball for over 140 yards."

The Browns catch a break in Hogan's first start and in their rededicated ground attack because the Texans will be without injured defensive lineman J.J. Watt, but that doesn't mean they will have an easy time.

The biggest problem for the Browns all season is an inability to hold onto the ball. They have thrown 11 interceptions and swiped three passes. They are plus-one on fumble recoveries, but the interceptions are dragging them down. Kizer has thrown nine of them.

"We've kind of taken a step forward, but the same thing each game is the turnovers," running back Duke Johnson said. "We're moving the ball better, running the ball better and being more efficient, but we're still turning the ball over. Even though Coach Jackson reminds us every week about turnovers and turnover ratios in the NFL, we have to go out there and learn the hard way, I guess."

Facing the Texans means facing rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson. The Browns had the 12th pick in the 2017 draft and traded it to Houston for the 25th pick in 2017 and the Texans' first-round pick in 2018. The Texans used the pick to select Watson.

The Browns got their quarterback 40 picks later when they selected Kizer with the 52nd pick. They used the pick acquired from the Texans on safety Jabrill Peppers.

Watson has thrown 12 touchdown passes and four interceptions. He carries a 100.7 passer rating into the game with the Browns.

"(Watson) tries to work on certain things every single day - better knowledge of the offense, better knowledge of defense," Texans head coach Bill O'Brien said on a conference call. "He really takes a short-term approach to the job, and I think that has helped him.

"Hopefully, he can continue to do that because it only gets harder with (Browns defensive coordinator) Gregg Williams' defense. All of the things that they are doing defensively, it'll be a very difficult challenge for us. We need to take that short-term approach as a staff also and as a team."

The Browns have allowed 11 passing touchdowns in five games.

SERIES HISTORY: 9th regular-season meeting. Texans lead series, 5-3. Houston entered the league in 2002, three years after the Browns were reborn as an expansion team, but the Texans have had far more success. They have beaten the Browns five times in their last six meetings.

--Quarterback DeShone Kizer says he understands head coach Hue Jackson's decision to bench him and start Kevin Hogan on Sunday in Houston. Kizer is 0-5 as a starter.

"The plan was for me to be the starter all year," Kizer said. "Yeah, it took an adjustment, but once again, there's a lot of thought that goes into a situation like this. I completely trust the process that he has set up for me."

Jackson said he hopes Kizer starts again this season.

--All-Pro left tackle Joe Thomas did not voice a strong opinion on who should start at quarterback against the Texans, but now that head coach Hue Jackson has chosen Hogan, he hopes Jackson stays with him.

"I think as an offense, we would be comfortable with either one of those guys back there," Thomas said. "Offensively, it's nice to have fewer changes the better so whoever they decide to go with it's probably best for the offense to stick with them as long as you can, just because there's a lot of coordination that needs to happen between the different facets of the offense and the more time you can work together, the better you are going to be, in general."

--The Browns last played the Texans on Nov. 16, 2014. They lost, 23-7, despite Brian Hoyer passing for 330 yards with a touchdown and an interception. It was the game that began their current freefall. Including the loss to the Texans, the Browns are 5-39 over their last 44 games.

--Only five games into the season, Browns quarterbacks have already completed passes to 13 different players, matching last year's total in 16 games. That's because new receivers are signed on an almost weekly basis to make up for ignoring the position in the 2017 draft.

"You can always go back, whether it's the draft or free agency, there are always opportunities you wish you capitalized on that you didn't," executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown said recently. "At the same time, our wide receivers can play better, and I think they will."

The Browns did use a first-round pick on tight end David Njoku, who leads the Browns with three touchdown catches.

--Rookie defensive lineman Myles Garrett played only 18 snaps in his NFL debut last week after missing the first four games with a sprained ankle. He registered two sacks despite his limited playing time. Jackson said Garrett's playing time will increase.

"That's the plan," Jackson said. "Let's get him through a little bit more in practice, get him through a little bit more in the game."

--The Browns are getting their best linebacker back just in time to face the player that will be a strong candidate for Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Jamie Collins missed the last three games with a concussion, but he is practicing again and will start against the Texans. He could be the Browns' best chance to tackle Texans rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson. Collins is a candidate to be the spy if that is the plan defensive coordinator Gregg Williams chooses to take. Watson is second in rushing for the Texans with 179 yards on 22 carries.

NOTES: LT Joe Thomas (knee) did not practice Wednesday, his normal day to rest. ... C JC Tretter (knee) did not practice. Head coach Hue Jackson said he does not think it is a long-term injury. ... CB Jamar Taylor (ribs) did not practice. He started the first five games. ... LB James Burgess (knee) did not practice. He was injured playing the Jets last week. ... WR Kenny Britt (knee/groin) was limited. He was inactive with the injuries last week.

Updated October 11, 2017


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