Browns

DeShone Kizer, Browns defeat Saints in preseason opener, 20-14

The Cleveland Browns returned to action to begin their 2017 season, beating the New Orleans Saints 20-14 at FirstEnergy Stadium Thursday night in their preseason opener. The Browns had some heroics from the young signal caller, DeShone Kizer, finding Jordan Payton for a 45-yard touchdown with just under two minutes remaining to give the Browns their first preseason victory since 2015.

The rookie class that Cleveland constructed had many of the big highlights throughout the game. It started with first pick Myles Garrett. While he only played for around one quarter, the first-overall pick had a tackle for a loss and one quarterback hit. Garrett showed off his freakish athleticism and power that earned him the honor of being atop the 2017 NFL Draft class. I — along with many other Browns fans — was often times transfixed on No. 95, watching his movements on the field without noticing what was going on in the rest of the play. He was fun to watch.

Jabrill Peppers did not issue a statistic on defense, but his returns on special teams definitely raised the excitement level. In a couple of his returns, he showed off his elusiveness, vision and strength as a returner. The rookie may not have had long returns, but when he had the ball, it felt as though a big play could happen at any time. It was Josh Cribbs-esque, really. Peppers will be another exciting player to watch going forward, especially on special teams.

Last but certainly not lost, Kizer was the other rookie that really shined on Thursday. In his half of action, he completed 11-of-18 passes for 184 yards and a touchdown. The rookie had a big 52-yard completion that set up the Browns second touchdown of the game.

Kizer made by far the play of the game, completing that 45-yard pass to give the Browns the lead and the eventual win. The most impressive aspect of his game was his mobility and eyes in the pocket. He avoided traffic and kept his eyes downfield, completing passes under pressure, case and point with both of his big plays. He was by far the best Browns quarterback on Thursday.

The game can be summed up with the late Dennis Green’s words: “They are what we thought they were.” Brock Osweiler was not good. He made some nice throws, but in the end he missed too many passes, causing the offense to sputter under his guidance early in the game. Cody Kessler was a bit better, but he performed to his usual form. He threw some nice throws down the field, but his pocket presence and ability to throw under pressure continued to hamper his play. Cameron Erving, who started at left tackle with Joe Thomas taking the night off, was just horrendous. He was pancaked on one occasion and put together a nice stretch where he committed a false start. On the play following the penalty, he let the edge rusher around the corner causing Erving to have to hold the rusher.

Some of the big preseason position battles had some developments in the game. Joe Schoebert completely outplayed Tank Carder for the third linebacker spot. Schoebert had two tackles, including a tackle for a loss, a sack, a pass defended and a quarterback hit. He made plays; Carder did not. Carder only notched one tackle, but he also had trouble tackling, including a missed tackle that allowed the running back to rush for a big gain. Erving did not help himself in the battle for the right tackle spot, but Shon Coleman was not perfect either. And as was stated earlier, Kizer moved up the rankings for the starting quarterback battle and might give Osweiler a run for his money.

It was a fun game to watch with some big plays made by the team’s youngest players. The Browns will take on the New York Giants on Monday, August 21st in their second of four preseason games.

  • Natedawg86

    bye Erving. Thanks for nothing.

  • WFNY_DP

    I still don’t think I want Kizer anywhere near the starting job this season. Frankly, what I liked the most was that all of the QBs seemed to make the right decision. Against pre-season, vanilla defenses, that shouldn’t be hard. But still. Progress is progress.

    The biggest problem is going to be the utter lack of an impact WR. I wonder who’s going to be able to get open. Kenny Britt’s lack of field awareness on his non-TD catch left me nonplussed.

  • RGB

    For those who thought MYLES could be Mingo 2.0 (and there were a few rumblings of that…)…on that spin move that got him into the backfield, Mingo ignores the RB and chases the QB, MYLES sees the RB and gobbles him up.

  • RGB

    I just feel bad for that guy. The staff has given him every opportunity to prove he belongs, but it’s painfully obvious that big boy football is just not for him.
    Thanks Ray.

  • WFNY_DP

    Man, the play where he and Bitonio pulled across the formation and Erving not only didn’t block anyone, but also basically tried to cut in front of Bitonio to block HIS guy, and then turned around and looked confused as the RB got swallowed up… Woof.

    And not the positive, Dawg Pound kind of Woof.

  • BenRM

    Intrepid beat reporter, MKC, asked Hue immediately if Kizer was the starter. WELCOME TO CLEVELAND!

  • BenRM

    Erving is really really bad.
    Coleman is not good, but he appeared to be slightly less bad.
    Our WRs are not NFL caliber.
    Brock wasn’t good, but he wasn’t helped at all by his WRs not being able to separate.
    Orchard looked like he was trying to save his job, and he might have.
    Why was Tank Carder even starting?
    I’ll be honest, I did not see the plays Garrett made (if someone has links, I’d like to see them!), but I love the play where he chased down the guy about 20 yards downfield and got to him.
    Kizer looks like a rookie with upside. Please, don’t push him into being more yet. He was playing against dregs, and still definitely looked like a rookie.

  • WFNY_DP

    Ugh. How about we take it for what it was: a good showing under the circumstances. Still plenty for him to work on (like, not DA-rifling every single throw, for example).

    Honestly what I liked the most was that he didn’t get happy feet and bail from the pocket at the first sign of trouble. He stood in and made some nice throws, the 4th down to Payton especially standing out.

    I disagree a bit with Joe on Osweiler; I thought it took him some time to settle in, but he made some decent throws:
    the out to Louis (who caught it in spit of PI)
    the corner end zone throw to Britt (Kenny’s bad footwork notwithstanding)
    the seam to Devalve (one wonders if Njoku has the extra speed and athleticism to get that ball; I bet Barnidge woulda caught it, lol)

    I also felt like the Browns were kicking the tires on offense. Not a lot of attempting to really impose the run game, and hopefully that (with Thomas in over Erving, obvs) will open up some PA for the QBs.

    My main concern still stands: I don’t know if we have receivers capable of routinely getting any separation. Corey Coleman moves the needle almost none for me. I really liked when he tried to fight through a tackle and almost got himself decapitated.

  • WFNY_DP

    You’re inside my head on all of this, and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

  • BenRM

    I agree with everything you’ve said. When Coleman tried to fight through that tackle, I yelled to the TV, “What are you thinking? You aren’t big enough to do that!”

  • RGB
  • RGB

    A Gpodawund woof.

  • Pat Leonard

    My biggest frustration with Brock was that he was locked onto his first target and kept trying to force passes to a covered Kenny Britt, which is sort of par for the course for him. He just doesn’t see the field. He twice threw the ball to Britt on crossing routes where the other receiver was wide open and Britt was covered. And I still despise his throwing motion. I know people think Kessler is a backup and don’t want to see any more of him, but I thought he clearly outplayed Brock and would have had two passes over 20 yards if Hall hadn’t dropped the second one that hit him right in the freaking chest.

  • crobarred

    I would rather have Julius Erving on the OL than Cam at this point.

  • MartyDaVille

    1. Osweiler didn’t have much of a chance when he did have a chance. Too many penalties put him in bad situations, and receivers not running the right route or not finishing the route or not getting both feet inbounds also hurt his performance.

    2. That roughing the passer call on the winning TD was really weak.

    3. Kizer made those two nice throws, but both were a bit underthrown. And to keep it real, it was the 4th quarter of the first exhibition game, so we shouldn’t get carried away. But still, it’s better than not making nice throws.

    4. Peppers did not “issue a statistic.” That’s a new one.

    5. But Hue got a win, which he didn’t last preseason, so that’s got to pick his spirits up.

  • crobarred

    I liked what I saw from Kizer but he was also playing against the 3’s who may not make an NFL squad. I agree that he shouldn’t go anywhere near the starting job. I’d rather see him play in mop up duty but don’t throw him in there to start the season. I also agree with you about the WR’s. I just hope one of the 6 drafted from last year steps up and Ndjoku can learn to catch.

  • RGB
  • WFNY_DP

    Re: #4, though he definitely showed his chops in the return game, Leo Lewis-esque fair catch notwithstanding.

  • BenRM

    So accurate!

  • Pat Leonard

    – QB thoughts: Bad footwork from Britt and a drop from Rannell Hall hurt the overall stats for Osweiler and Kessler, but neither is going to be more than a stopgap solution. Kessler still has problems with holding the ball too long and has to work with a weaker arm. Osweiler still can’t see the field and has crappy pocket presence. I don’t need him to start right away, but I do want to see DeShone Kizer starting at some point this season. Maybe after the bye week, so starting in Week 10. He did some rookie things, like holding the ball too long a couple times, but overall I felt like he had a clock in his head that was telling him that he needed to get moving if he couldn’t find a pass within a couple seconds. I also loved to see him climb the pocket and use his feet to recenter himself. He does a lot of things that good quarterbacks do even if the accuracy isn’t always perfect. I also think he’s getting too much flak for throwing “short” on the long passes. I think if we could have seen the play in 3-D, we’d have better noticed that Kizer threw those balls more towards the center of the field to put the passes in a place where only his receivers could grab them. That’s smart football.

    – RB thoughts: Crow played well, I was expecting more use of Duke Johnson in the passing game, and Matt Dayes has some shifty feet! Those were some lightning quick cuts from Dayes… first time I’ve been able to watch him play.

    – TE thoughts: I thought both Telfer and DeValve had nice games and put themselves in positions to be successful in the passing game. Didn’t have a chance to key in on their blocking.

    – OL thoughts: Cam Erving is worse than Sterup (which is saying something) and I don’t see how they can carry him on this roster. I hope he’s on the cut list by the end of the preseason. Coleman had that egregious hold, but seemed to do well the other times I paid attention to him.

    – DL thoughts: Myles Garrett is a freaking stud. As Joe pointed out, he was in the backfield causing problems on just about every play. Nate Orchard was an unlikely hero, but give him credit. He made those plays and showed a reason to keep him on the roster. I also thought Nassib had some nice plays and was a general nuisance… almost sacked his brother who ended up having a simply amazing pass for a TD. Did Ogbah play? I didn’t notice him if he did.

    – LB thoughts: Christian Kirksey is a stud. Jamie Collins is a stud. Joe Schobert earned the right to play with the starters next time, great game from him.

    – DB thoughts: Joe Haden played much later than I thought he would, and he had a pretty good game. The only DB who really stood out to me was Briean Boddy-Calhoun (duh). I mean, good heavens. He needs to be on the field with the starters, someway, somehow.

  • Pat Leonard

    Looked just like he did in college. He’s not a fast-twitch guy or a guy who is going to wow you with his top speed, but man does he have an amazing ability to keep his balance and exploit the holes. He’s going to be a real weapon in punt return.

  • RGB

    Nate Orchard is playing his natural position for the first time since he was drafted.

  • Fike Club

    Schobert looked really good and a natural in the middle. Puzzling to see Tank Carder out there for anything other than special teams, guy looked completely lost and couldn’t make the tackle on that 20 yard run in the first.
    I also thought Coley and Meder looked stout with the 2nd teamers and Orchard looks more at home on the corner. Peppers looks like a footballer out there.. fun to watch

  • Pat Leonard

    I think we should also recognize that he didn’t only play AGAINST the 3rd stringers, he also played WITH them. It makes it really hard to evaluate his performance and get an idea of what he would have done with/against first stringers. I don’t really think starting Kizer from the outset would stunt his growth in any way, and theoretically he should be behind an offensive line that will give him plenty of time to throw, so for me it’s only about who gives us the best chance to win. I don’t know if that’s Kizer (yet), but I don’t have a problem with Hue wanting to find that out.

  • Fike Club

    other thoughts:
    Receiving corps looks pretty lack-luster. Britt and Coleman don’t inspire confidence. Need more Duke out there in the slot.
    RB corps looks solid. Like Dayes shiftiness and pace.
    Cam Erving is still bad

  • Pat Leonard

    Great point, I skipped right over the DTs, but Coley made an impact with the first, second, and third string defenses (he was in at various points throughout the entire game, which was interesting) and Meder did have a nice showing.

  • mgbode

    I’m pumping the brakes on Kizer’s performance last night, but I also want him starting Week 1.

  • Pat Leonard

    This is true, and I thought in the offseason that playing in a four man front would be a nice boost for him, but from what I’ve heard his name hasn’t been called that much in camp. He really needed to have this game to put himself in contention for a rotation spot.

  • Natedawg86

    9,429,065 reasons why I don’t feel bad for him

  • RGB

    I think it will refreshing to watch players play in their natural spots in Williams’ 4-3, instead of watching them play in ridiculous hybrid positions in Horton’s stupid deceive, disguise 3-4 charlie foxtrot schemes.

  • RGB

    Hopefully, he’s invested wisely.

  • Natedawg86

    #2, I am coming around to protecting the QB on this one. If ball is out, there shouldn’t be a hand on him. I used to think they were thrown too much, but that position is too important to get your QB hurt after the play is made

  • Natedawg86

    Erving’s natural spot is on the DL…

  • Natedawg86

    Can we just stick Erving on DL just to see what happens in the preseason? That is what he played before switching to OL

  • Pat Leonard

    Either that, or the cut list. Hey, it’s not our money.

  • WFNY_DP

    I think you’re underselling his speed a bit. He did run a 4.46 at the combine, and in HS he set the fourth-fastest time in NJ state history in the 200. [Edit] Confirmed my recollections via Google: in high school, he was the 100- AND 200-meter champion for New Jersey in both his junior and senior years.

    He’s plenty fast enough.

  • WFNY_DP

    I think it wasn’t the timing or the contact, it was that the defender basically clubbed him with a forearm and fist.

  • Pat Leonard

    4.46 is not elite speed in the NFL. It’s good, not great. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying he’s slow. Just that elite speed is not one of his qualities. He’s plenty fast to be a great return man.

  • mgbode

    That marks as an 89% speed according to mockdraftables for his ATH (which is where most returners get marked). Anything above 95 is generally considered elite.

    https://www.mockdraftable.com/player/jabrill-peppers?position=ATH

  • WFNY_DP

    I know it’s not elite speed, but Devin Hester–who might have been the best PR of his generation, and is in the top-five all time–was a 4.41. Given the nature of punt returning (the physics of basically going against the grain), 4.46 speed is plenty to exploit holes in the coverage. He has the instincts to find those holes.

  • WFNY_DP
  • WFNY_DP

    You and your tables…

  • mgbode
  • mgbode

    in the Arena League

  • Garry_Owen

    Maybe the Browns is where Kyrie will land.

  • Garry_Owen

    With this OL, sure. Why not?

  • Garry_Owen

    Totally. Speed is not the determining factor for a returner. It’s as much a matter of vision, agility, and even patience. Some measure of speed is presumed. Peppers has plenty.

  • Pat Leonard

    Then we are agreed… let us celebrate our arrangement with the adding of chocolate to milk!

  • woofersus

    Not to mention saying “4.46 isn’t elite speed” is like saying “95mph isn’t elite pitch velocity.” Maybe not, but it’s plenty fast enough that any lack of success will be caused by something else.

  • woofersus

    Agreed. Everybody has already made their mind up on Kessler because he doesn’t have a strong enough arm, (and because new toy) but I want to see more. Those two passes, of which one was dropped, showed something we didn’t see enough of last season, which was seeing the play fast enough to push the ball downfield into a window, and also being willing to take a chance and making a play. And since I’m firmly in the “don’t start the rookie QB just because he’s new and has the most upside” camp and Kessler clearly was better than Brock, I think he should start the next one.