This week, DeShone Kizer took necessary steps towards proving he can be a viable backup quarterback option for the Green Bay Packers. All offseason, Kizer has battled fourth-year backup quarterback Brett Hundley for the position as Aaron Rodgers’ second in command. However, with Kizer’s impressive second-half performance — 7 of 12, 149 yards, two TDs and a passer rating of 142 — he helped make the case that he’s Green Bay’s No. 2 option under center.
The former Cleveland Brown is a work in progress but he has shown flashes of quality play, at one point slinging an impressive pass to former UW-Whitewater WR Jake Kumerow which ended in an 82-yard TD. Kizer also hit a deep 51-yard pass to WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling in Week 1 against the Titans and finished 9 of 18 for 134 yards in that game.
Brett Hundley managed to put up a stable performance himself against the Steelers, going 6 of 9 for 77 yards passing, 12 yards rushing, and a rushing TD. However, with DeShone Kizer now in the mix, Hundley’s inconsistencies last year — along with the Packers’ investment in Kizer — could eventually push him down the depth chart.
However, the case of Kizer vs. Hundley is not as black and white as it may look. While Kizer is making a strong argument for the backup quarterback roster spot in Green Bay, he had a similar exciting performance with the Browns against the Saints in Week 1 of the 2017 preseason, going 10 of 17 for 139 yards and two TDs. He was similarly impressive in Week 2 against the Giants, at one point was even dubbed the second-best rookie quarterback of the preseason. Kizer did enough to win the regular season starting job in Cleveland, but the positivity quickly tapered off into an abysmal mess when he was forced to play against starting defenses. Kizer may be good in the preseason, but buyers should be wary of his regular season play. (Case in point, here.)
The backup quarterback race in Green Bay is going to boil down to who looks the most balanced under pressure in the final two games of the preseason. Though Kizer’s strong performance bolstered his case, two more games remain before the Packers have to make any decision. While Kizer has done less with more starts under his belt, Brett Hundley might have already reached his ceiling. Certainly Hundley knows the Packers’ playbook far better than Kizer; however, just as easily as he can carry a team under pressure, he’s proven he can collapse.
The Packers of 2018 are not the Packers of 2017. With Kizer and Hundley fairing equally right now, it seems increasingly possible that the team will opt to take a chance on Kizer over Hundley. Let’s not forget that if Kizer should win the job, he’ll be learning directly from Rodgers — a two-time MVP who could prove to be exactly what Kizer needs to develop.