1. Quarterback DeShone Kizer struggles and fans/media panic
It came as a surprise to many that Kizer was named the starter by head coach Hue Jackson earlier this preseason. However, it is pretty evident that Jackson had no choice due to the incompetence of his other options. Besides, Kizer peformed well in his preseason action – 351 yards passing, one touchdown and one interception – while also consistently moving the football.
With all that being said, the regular season is a different animal. The Steeler defense has to be foaming at the mouth with the opportunity to harass a rookie quarterback in Week 1. Kizer was the best of the Browns quarterbacks, but that does not mean that he is necessarily 100 percent ready to start.
Pittsburgh had a top-12 defense last year in terms of yards-per-game, while also ranking in the top half of the league in terms of passing yards-per-game. The team only bolstered the defense with the additions of rookie outside linebacker T.J. Watt and veteran cornerback Joe Haden. The Steelers defensive unit poses a serious concern for Kizer and the Browns offense.
So, Kizer is likely to struggle. It would be outrageous to expect the kid to go out on the field and set the world on fire in his first career start against a dangerous defense. However, as comes with every Browns starting quarterback, the expectations for Kizer are continuing to rise due to his strong preseason performance.
The young quarterback will have more downs than ups in Week 1, which will cause some to panic. Ultimately, the in-game experience Kizer will get will accelerate his development faster than if he was sitting on the bench. It will be a rough first week, but it should only help the Notre Dame product.