BEREA -- Joe Thomas continually insists he knows nothing about quarterback play.
But he does know about pass protection and play calls and he does watch film with the offense. So when Thomas offers the opinion that Cleveland Browns rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer showed positive strides in the loss to the Indianapolis Colts it's worth listening.
"I thought our quarterback had his best game last week," Thomas said Thursday.
Kizer went 22-for-47 for 242 yards, with two touchdowns and three interceptions. One of the interceptions came on a desperate heave on the game's final play, the other two were costly.
Thomas, though, saw growth.
"I saw the way that he was throwing in rhythm," Thomas said. "He was making quick, decisive decisions with the football. Wasn't taking as many sacks. And I think that's huge progress.
"You can see as the second half got on he was getting confidence in understanding the route concepts, understanding the coverages, knowing where the ball needs to go on time. To me it seemed like a really big step."
Kizer was sacked nine times the first two games. The Colts sacked him once.
"Well I know when the quarterback runs around and sacks himself that's a bad thing," Thomas said. "So when he doesn't do it that's improvement."
Thomas' feeling was shared within the team, which thought that Kizer showed good signs about where to go with the ball and in his reads.
The interceptions were not solely placed on him, but there were general concerns with accuracy -- as his 46.9 completion percentage showed.
The first interception came with 8:39 left in the third quarter and the Browns down 28-7. Kizer threw a pass based on coverage that Kasen Williams did not read the same way. Williams cut in, but Kizer read an inside safety and threw outside. The pass looked bad, but was more a result of the receiver and quarterback not reading the play the same way.
The second came with 22 seconds left in the quarter and the Browns still down by 21 points. Kizer threw a slant to Kenny Britt, and given where the safety was, he did not lead Britt into the coverage. Britt kept going and the pass was behind him. He reached back and got his hands on the ball, but was not able to pull it in and the ball tipped into the air to a Colts defender.
"I don't think it is poor decisions," coach Hue Jackson said. "When I look at it, I think he has to understand the situation and where the people are so the decision is not what it is. The ball is going to the right person. The ball is just not in the right spot more so than anything. It is not decision related. It is probably accuracy more, making sure that the ball goes at the right person at the right time."
One of the knocks on Kizer when he came out of Notre Dame was about accuracy. In the NFL, a throw being on the back shoulder as opposed to the front shoulder can make the difference between a completion or an interception, a first down or a punt. Kizer does not hide from it, saying "pinpoint accuracy" is vital.
"Accuracy is a combination of not only the mechanics of the quarterback and the footwork and those things, but it has a lot to do with timing," Kizer said. "It is going to be on us to make sure that we get back out there as soon as we possibly can to work on that timing and have the chemistry needed to make sure that when I do throw a ball early that it is exactly where he expects it to be so he can come down with the ball."
Elias reported this week that Kizer is one of only three quarterbacks in the last 25 seasons to have at least 10 sacks and at least seven interceptions in his first three starts. The others: Peter Tom Willis in 1993 and Alex Smith in 2005. Smith has had a good career. Willis did not.
For Kizer, every game is a learning experience in some way, shape or form.
"You just have to continue to work on your craft. This is a game where you have to always be getting better because as soon as you are not upping your game, you are getting worse. It is my job to make sure that each day in practice that I am out there working my butt off to become a more accurate passer, work my butt off to run the ball a little better and have better timing with the guys who are out there with me."