By Nick Shook
Read full post on NFL.com
The rookie passer took his first possession as the team’s starter and led a 10-play drive that covered 57 yards and resulted in a 38-yard field goal from Cody Parkey. Had Kenny Britt held onto a third-down pass on a hard slant (and had it not been pouring rain), perhaps that sentence would have ended with a touchdown.
Seeing as it was his first drive with the ones, Kizer looks surprisingly experienced. His footwork was choppy, looking almost nervous, yet his decision making was anything but. The most emphatic play came on a 32-yard connection from Kizer to second-year wideout Corey Coleman, who made an excellent diving catch on a pass that was placed about as well as possible.
What made the play even more exciting for those loyal to the men in brown and orange was Kizer’s footwork, first stepping up into the pocket, exiting to the left, stepping up again and throwing on the run, all while never pulling his eyes down from the field ahead. Just watch for yourself.
“I thought it was a tremendous drive, he made a play outside the pocket with Corey (Coleman),” head coach Hue Jackson said after the game Saturday, per the team’s official site. “I thought he did some really good things. I’m going to go back and watch the tape, but I feel comfortable with him.”
Kizer was thrown into some adverse situations positionally, thanks to great punts and coverage from a special teams unit headed by Bryan Anger. Kizer started one drive from his own 1-yard line, another from his own 3, and a third from his own 9. The possession that started at the 3 finished at Tampa Bay’s 12, where Duke Johnson fumbled a handoff (again, a slippery night). That was the way the game went for both teams, though: a contest full of should-haves, with nothing but field goals to show for it until the very end.
As for Kizer, who finished the night with one of the more misleading stat lines you’ll see this preseason — 6-of-18 passing, 93 yards, one interception — the majority of what he did landed in the right. He engineered multiple drives that mixed run and pass well, established an in-game connection with Coleman, threw the ball away when he needed to (such as while being a yard away from running out of the back of the end zone), and wasn’t afraid to go back to the sideline to get things right with Jackson. He also sailed a few throws, and had Lavonte David‘s excellent range result in a tipped pass and interception by Vernon Hargreaves.
“I’m going to watch the tape,” Jackson said when asked if Kizer was the Week 1 starter after his performance Saturday. “I told you guys, the covers are on now. I’m really close. He has the right feel for me and for what I’m looking for, but I’ll go back and watch the tape. I’m sure I’ll let you guys know right away.”
Overall, Kizer made Jackson look rather wise in deeming him “the guy” for at least this week. After Saturday’s performance, there isn’t a realistic reason why he wouldn’t be “the guy” come Week 1.