Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Kizer, Boyle fight for spot behind Rodgers
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – It’s possible DeShone Kizer won’t play a single down this season, but as the newly anointed Green Bay Packers backup quarterback, he needed to finish the summer off on the right foot.
Though he insisted he didn’t feel any pressure playing against the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night, just a day after quarterback Brett Hundley was traded to the Seattle Seahawks for a sixth-round draft pick, it would not have looked good for him to lay a big egg at Arrowhead Stadium.
Starter Aaron Rodgers was among 22 players who did not make the trip, so Kizer was thrust into a role the Packers hope he never has to assume this season.
The night didn’t look very promising
when he threw high and behind tight end Lance Kendricks and was picked off by Chiefs rookie safety Armani Watts on the third play of the game. It was almost as though Kizer was showing general manager Brian Gutekunst that he traded the wrong quarterback.
“I knew that I was only going to have a few series out there,” Kizer said after the Packers’ 33-21 defeat in their exhibition finale. “Obviously, very unfortunate to go out there and throw the ball that I threw. Kind of wish I had that one back.
“But the next drive is another opportunity to prove who you are and how you respond.”
If that is true, then Kizer signaled to Gutekunst he need not worry.
Starting at his 35, Kizer drove the team to the Kansas City 31, connecting on three short passes and converting a third down with a 10-yard scramble. On fourth-and-1, he dropped back behind a solid pocket, scanned the field from right to left and found his man.
Kizer lofted the ball down the left sideline to a wide-open Geronimo Allison for a touchdown. It wasn’t the throw that was so impressive, it was his patience in going through his progressions, finding his receiver after Allison had completed his route and gone into scramble mode.
“Working through progressions, starting on the right side there, (I) was working back to Geronimo,” Kizer said. “By that time, he was already out of his route and kind of took the top off the defense. I was able to get the ball up and down before the defense recovered.”
That was it for Kizer. He finished 5 of 7 for 56 yards and a touchdown and an interception. His passer rating was 95.5.
In 14 series during the exhibition season, Kizer led the offense to four touchdowns and 28 first downs, completed three passes of 20 or more yards and had one interception. The offense averaged 5.23 yards during his 101 snaps.
For the four games, he completed 32 of 60 passes (53.3 percent) for 460 yards and three touchdowns with an interception for a passer rating of 88.2.
In three games, Hundley led the offense to two touchdowns, three field goals and 18 first downs, completed four passes of 20 or more yards and threw one interception. The offense averaged 4.12 yards during his 71 snaps. His passer rating was 81.3.
Kizer found out about his new status when Hundley walked into the quarterback room Wednesday and told the others that he had been traded. Kizer said it caught everyone in the room off guard, but he said it didn’t make him feel as though he had been validated for his preseason performance.
“In this league you’ve got to validate every time you step out on the field,” Kizer said. “It has nothing to do with the decisions that are made before you.
“It has everything to do with earning the respect of your coaches, your teammates and the fans that are supporting you. At the end of the day, that’s all that matters.”
In the case of undrafted rookie Tim Boyle, what mattered was three quarters of playing time, more than he had received the rest of the exhibition season. Boyle knew going into the game that he was going to play a lot and that a spot on the 53-man roster could be in the balance.
Boyle came out firing on his first two series, leading the offense on touchdown drives of 78 and 65 yards. He completed 7 of 11 passes for 74 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown throw to tight end Robert Tonyan, and was the beneficiary of a 36-yard pass interference penalty on a deep pass to receiver Equanimeous St. Brown.
It was about as good of a start as Boyle could imagine.
“We called some good plays, got rolling and had a good drive,” Boyle said.
But as can be the case in fourth preseason games, the second half was mostly third-stringers against thirdstringers and Boyle’s night quickly fell apart. He threw a pair of interceptions on passes he shouldn’t have thrown and
finished with a 43.3 passer rating.
“I just don’t think we found our rhythm in the second half, which is a combination of a lot of different things,” Boyle said. “But I don’t think we were really on our game in the second half, which is unfortunate, but it happens. That’s football and you learn from it.”
Boyle had an excessive amount of interceptions in college, but until this week he hadn’t thrown any in practice or games. Then he threw two in practice Monday and two in the game Thursday night.
It’s possible he was just trying to force the action and make something happen on his own with so many third-stringers on the field Thursday night, but he took the blame for not taking care of the ball the way he should have.
“The first interception I was moving to my left a little bit, so naturally at quarterback when you’re moving to your left and you throw, it kind of sails on you a little bit,” Boyle said. “So that’s what happened on that one.
“And then the second one, we had a nice combination (route), but the guy (defender) fell off of the route right when I was about to throw it and stepped right in front of it.”
Boyle played 17 series in the preseason and led the offense to four touchdowns and two field goals, 22 first downs and an average of 4.6 yards per play. He completed 26 of 53 passes for 294 yards and three touchdowns with two interceptions for a 69.2 passer rating.
It’s unclear whether the Packers will keep three quarterbacks, but the risk they face is losing Boyle completely if they cut him. For 24 hours he would be subject to waivers and anybody could claim him, thus denying the Packers a chance to put him on the practice squad.
“I think I’ve done well,” Boyle said. “I think I’ve showed the things that I wanted to show: a strong arm and I can stay in the pocket.”