Kizer Rolls: Cleveland Browns Preseason Week 1 Winners and Losers

It would appear football season is upon us. I’ve been dragging my feet through much of the summer, immersing myself in Cavalier news and Indians games, ignoring much in the way of training camp and fantasy season preparation. Outside of injuries, I’ve always felt that training camps are simply ephemeral spurts of action that rarely provide much in the way of information worthy of analysis. Thursday night, however, served to provide the official start to actual Cleveland Browns football. Two different teams rostering a slew of players with something to prove, running and throwing and catching and tackling each other for what amounts to 60 game minutes. It was our real first look at these players against actual competition. When a pass is completed in camp, was it a great offensive play, or a terrible defensive one? If a pass is intercepted, was it the work of a ball hawk or a quarterback who shouldn’t be anywhere near a football field?

Here are your winners and losers from the first bout of preseason football for 2017.

WINNER: DeShone Kizer

Yes, I was against what equated to third-string defenders. Yes, it was only 18 passes. And yes, 45 of his 185 yards came on one pass. But in what was his first game of NFL-like action against a set of uniforms that were not orange and brown, the Browns’ rookie quarterback looked pretty damn good. While fans will continue to compare Kizer to Houston’s Deshaun Watson, it was the Cleveland rookie who stood in the pocket and pump-faked the absolute hell out of safety to lead the Browns to their first preseason win since 2015. Pro Fpotball Focus credited Kizer with completing 5-of-10 passes under pressure (for 126 yards) and a 129.2 passer rating. He was also 2-of-2 on deep passes, one of which was a ballsy 45-yard touchdown on fourth down with 1:52 left on the game clock. On the game-winning drive, the rookie completed an 18-yard throw on third-and-17, following it up with a 22-yard completion on third-and-24 on the play before the game-winning pass. The best part? The rookie was given two fourth-down plays to choose from at the line of scrimmage, reportedly audibled out of the run, and dropped an absolute dime to Jordan Payton. We shouldn’t be enshrining Kizer in Canton just yet, but it was a fantastic debut for the kid from Notre Dame.

WINNER: Hue Jackson

Hue went into the preseason saying his team couldn’t afford to go 0-4 this year. While preseason has next to zero correlation with in-season success, knowing how to win football games is an important trait, regardless of who is on the field. While Kizer averaged 10.2 yards per completion, Kessler sat at 4.7; Osweiler at 3.0. While penalties didn’t help matters much (more on this later), Osweiler not recording a single first down in the first quarter was not the best way to grab ahold of the starting job he was given just days earlier.

LOSERS: Brock Osweiler and Cody Kessler

Combining to complete just 11 of 24 passes, this first preseason game did not help solidify anything in the way of a depth chart for the team’s two veterans.

WINNER: Myles Garrett

He only played one half of football, but man is it going to be fun watching Myles Garrett play every Sunday. I hate clichés more than anyone, but the kid just has it. He was in the backfield pressuring New Orleans quarterbacks nearly every snap, had a tackle for a loss, and was instrumental in a play that nearly resulted in Christian Kirksey picking off a pass in the middle of the field. The play where he perfectly timed the snap and simply pushed  tackle Khalif Barnes to hit Garrett Grayson was reminiscent of Joey Bosa at Ohio State—but at the professional level. Rookie sack totals are rarely high in the NFL, but if anyone is going to prove that to be an arbitrary benchmark set by the failure of others, it’s Myles Garrett.

WINNER: Jabril Peppers

Peppers had nary a defensive statistic to speak of, but the way he was furious with himself after fair catching a punt in the first half was enough for me. The kid is a straight up competitor, and while I think it’s a bit dangerous to have such an important piece of ones defense returning kicks and punts, it wouldn’t shock me if he had multiple touchdowns this season.

WINNER: Sashi Brown

Not a bad evening from his rookie class.

LOSER: Cam Erving

Holy hell. When I watch this kid play, I think of two things: 1) How much longer will this experiment last? 2) What on God’s Green Earth did Ray Farmer see that said “Make this kid a first round draft pick.” Erving was absolutely destroyed throughout the first half, single handedly stalling the team’s first drive with two penalties, and then completely whiffed on a block when he was supposed to pull to the right side. The good news is that Joe Thomas is the team’s starting left tackle. The bad news is it’s a hell of a drop-off between him and Erving, a player who will need a huge swing of fortune to be on this roster come 2018.

WINNER: Gregg Williams

Even when the Browns gave up first downs, it oftentimes looked as if the scheme and play call was perfect, but the execution just wasn’t there. I’m being careful to not read too much into one preseason game, but this team’s defense may be night and day compared to that abomination from a season ago.

WINNER: Trevon Coley

We may have ourselves a kid who went from undrafted practice squad body to starting defensive lineman in the course of one season. Between his work stopping the run and his strip sack of the Saints quarterback, it may not be off-field issues that cost Caleb Brantley his job as much as it will be the ascent of Coley throughout the preseason.

  • TimCleveland

    LOSER: NFL Network for cutting into the re-broadcast of last night’s game to spend over 30 minutes discussing Zeke’s suspension. Missed watching Kizer’s GWTD drive in non-highlight form over something that should have been a ticker type of announcement.

  • mgbode

    I will reiterate that I believe Myles Garrett will set a new rookie sack record if he stays healthy. 14.5 by the Freak, Jevon Kearse is the current measure.

  • Ryan Coleman


  • MartyDaVille

    WINNER: Scott. “Kizer Rolls” is pretty good.

    LOSER: Kizer Hype. It was the 4th quarter of the first exhibition game. Let’s slow our Rolls.

    Agree on Greg Williams. Some of the reporters on the sidelines were remarking about how aggressive the whole attitude of the defense is.

  • MartyDaVille


  • mgbode

    Wait, we were distinctly told by the NYT that no one outside the tri-state area knows of kaiser rolls. I think this was happenstance unless you or Scott happens to be from one of the five burroughs or closeby areas.

  • paulbip

    I would sit down and drink 5 or 6 gallons of water with Peppers any day.

  • Skulb

    The preseason is just the worst.

  • RGB

    LOSER (or WINNER): Kyrie. The Browns are here now. So you are irrelevant.

  • Pat Leonard

    Kizer is definitely a winner, even in spite of the competition. No, he hasn’t won the starting job. What he should win are snaps with the 1st team offense in the next preseason game.

  • Pat Leonard

    Winner: Briean Boddy-Calhoun. That kid showed up and showed out.

  • Brian Fargo

    i will say this. myles garrett is as advertised. im very impressed with him yes…..1 pre season game. but you can just see the skill level he has. good things goin on in cleveland.

  • JM85

    Winner- The coaching staff. It’s preseason but the team overall looked far better than last year.

  • mgbode

    Yeah, I don’t get it. Channel hosts mostly boring shows that people think are good because everyone loves a British accent.

  • Lisacmckinnon


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  • Skulb

    I have a mantra that I use this time of year. It’s just the preseason, it’s just the preseason, it’s just the preseason. Repeat this until you stop caring about whatever it is that’s presently bothering you and it will become much less frustrating. If it helps, you can also close your eyes and picture some relaxing setting. I prefer a meadow; cool grass between my toes. Cool, wet grass, cool, wet grass, cool, wet grass.

    I feel better now. What were we talking about again?

  • Skulb

    Apart from their old comedies and documentaries. I can still watch those now and enjoy them more than anything currently on TV. I even bought Fawlty Towers on DVD recently and intend to binge it this weekend.

  • Skulb

    I liked him last year. I’ll contain my enthusiasm until week one this year though. There are no game plans right now, so hard to know what to make of anything. Personally, as a stalwart of Team Conspiracy, I even suspect Jay Gruden of calling Harbaugh to ask for as much blitzing as possible to knock his offense down a peg so they wouldn’t be as cocky as previously. #BLITZGATE!

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  • Chris

    Good to see Pun Friday made a brief appearance in my absence.