The Packers added quality depth to the quarterback position this spring when it was announced that DeShone Kizer would be coming to Green Bay via a trade with Cleveland. I started following Kizer a few years ago from his time at Notre Dame when he was a young starter. I always liked Kizer’s size and strength. He comes in officially at 6’4 and weighs 233 lbs.
When watching him at Notre Dame I began to notice that he had a high football IQ. It seemed as if he was going through his progressions quicker than most quarterbacks his age and more often that not found the right target. The thing that I liked about Kizer coming out of college is that he didn’t come from a wide open ‘trendy’ offense (think Oregon). Notre Dame did spread the field quite a bit but they balanced things out enough to seem more like a pro style offense. When Kizer was drafted by the Browns I was hoping that he wouldn’t be another quarterback that people would forget about in a couple of years. You know, guys like Brady Quinn, Colt McCoy, Brandon Weeden, Jason Campbell, Brian Hoyer, Josh McCown and Johnny Manziel, just to name a few.
When it was announced that Kizer was coming to Green Bay I was pretty happy. I think competition for the #2 spot could be a good thing. It’s no secret that Brett Hundley struggled last year. Who could forget in 2013 when Rodgers went down and the Packers scrambled to find a solid backup. I’m a firm believer that there has to be some stability at the #2 QB position. Just look at what the Eagles did last year with a decent backup in Nick Foles. Granted, their defense was impressive, but Foles did a lot of things to help that offense. Lets go to the film and take a look at some things that could make Kizer a good choice for the #2 quarterback.
The first thing I noticed right off the bat with this play was the footwork of Kizer. The short side defensive end is starting to collapse part of the pocket but Kizer stays calm under pressure and is able to move with the pocket. There is nothing worse than a quarterback who wants to take off too soon which breaks the pocket. What you really want is to extend it as long as possible.
The second thing that impressed me about the play was his drop back. It seems simple I know, but there are so many things that go in to a good drop back. The first thing is the push-off from center. The quarterback wants to be able to push-off quick and get back into the pocket. If not the 3 and 1 technique players could wreak havoc. The second thing is ball placement. McCarthy has said in the past that he typically likes quarterbacks to have the ball at chest height. A hard habit to break with young quarterbacks is having them get the ball down. A lot of college coaches like the ball high for their QBs because they can get the ball out quicker. While that is true, it seems like that technique takes a lot of throwing leverage away from the quarterback.
The third thing that I liked was the vision. A good quarterback keeps his eyes downfield the whole time and doesn’t get locked in on one guy. It would be easy for a young quarterback in the league to get fixated on one receiver. You can tell he goes through his progressions quick and hits the check down player. Not every play has to be a home run. This turns in to a decent gain here off of a simple throw.
Taking a Shot
One thing I noticed about Kizer is that he isn’t afraid to take a shot downfield. This was a drawback at times with Hundley. The Packers would incorporate some vertical looks for Hundley at times and it seemed as if he was afraid to lay it up to his primary receiver. A quarterback has to know when to take these shots. Several things come in to play when deciding to take a chance like that. A quarterback must always know:
- Down and distance
- Field position
If the best receiver is on the field, in the Packers case probably Adams, then Kizer could know that he could have a downfield advantage vs inexperienced defensive backs. If the Packers were up by several scores then I wouldn’t be afraid of taking a chance like this. If the game is on the line, however, then you should probably hit the check-down or a safer route. Kizer has a big arm and isn’t afraid to stand in the pocket and take a shot if he knows pressure is coming.
Here is another impressive pass from Kizer. Cleveland comes out in a pro set (tight end and flanker to one side, twins look on the other side) and Kizer does a good job settling in his drop and hitting the flanker as he gets in between the corner and safety. This is a hard window to get the ball in but he makes it happen. It doesn’t look like much but these are the kinds of throws that separate good quarterbacks and average ones. When an offense is facing a cover 2 look, such as in this clip, then they really want to go vertically and put the corner and safety in a bind. Kizer could have easily hit the route in the flats but he threaded this one and completed a good pass.
With training camp right around the corner this is one battle that I’ll be paying close attention to. As I mentioned earlier, the backup quarterback position is an important one, and one that the Packers need stability at. If you want to see what a model backup looks like then look at what Aaron Rodgers did when he was a backup for Brett Favre. He stayed quiet, learned the system, and put in tons of work. Before he knew it he was winning a Super Bowl and paving his way to the hall of fame. I think Kizer could learn a lot from Rodgers career as he is fighting for that #2 spot this year.
Go Pack Go!
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