BEREA, Ohio -- DeShone Kizer conceded it would be nice to have a veteran quarterback as a teammate.
"It would be valuable to have a guy who has been through this and understands it all," Kizer said this week as he prepared for the Browns (0-4) to host the New York Jets (2-2) on Sunday.
Although the Browns rookie quarterback doesn't have that luxury, he recently received some public advice from 15-year NFL veteran Josh McCown.
"It is hard if you are in a rebuilding mode and you have to play as a young player," McCown, the starting quarterback of the Jets whom the Browns cut in February after he spent two seasons with them, said during a conference call. "As a quarterback, sometimes you can feel attached to anything that doesn't go right, and you have to remember that you are your own entity as far as just trying to grow and get better."
It's not easy to strike the right balance mentally.
Kizer, 21, certainly bears responsibility for the team's record, but he also must be aware he's part of a massive rebuilding project. He needs more support to be successful early in his career, especially from what's been a horrendous receiving corps and an underachieving running game, and he cannot allow his confidence to shatter in the meantime.
"In terms of my growth and my development, I know that there is specific things that I look for each week, and I want to attack those," Kizer said. "Sometimes the stats might lean you away from the things that we are actually growing in."
Statistics can be deceiving. For example, Kenny Britt dropped a pass from Kizer in the red zone during Sunday's 31-7 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, the ball deflected off the struggling veteran wide receiver and was intercepted. That said, Kizer's numbers are awful. He has an NFL-high eight interceptions. He's ranked last in completion percentage (51.4), passer rating (50.9) and third-down rating (27.4). He's 31st in yards per attempt (5.38).
"When you are 0-4 and statistically one of the worst quarterbacks out there right now, you have to figure out where you are headed," Kizer said. "What is the path right now? What is the message? For me, it is about doing whatever I can to grow in whatever coach decides needs to be the right room for growth for that week.
"In the last couple weeks, we were talking about trying not to hold onto the ball and make sure that we are throwing the ball away and not taking sacks. We made progress in that. This week, it is about putting the ball in playmakers hands and trying to go score points so we can go win a game.