Browns’ sophomore stand-outs, Kizer vs Watson, and Tribe train rolling: While We’re Waiting


Mornin’ y’all. Hope you are finding yourselves in high spirits on this first NFL Monday of 2017 with the wind forever at your back. Cleveland sports had quite the weekend of activity as the Browns started their season off with a loss to the Steelers, while the Indians continued winning baseball games- this time against the AL Wild Card contending Baltimore Orioles. An 18 game winning streak is just three away from the all-time MLB record. Insane! Let’s get right to it, shall we?

Competitive Browns with some stand-out sophomores

If you want to bellyache about yet another loss to the hated Steelers, then have at it. Pittsburgh has the stable organization most other teams strive to be, which is especially frustrating when the Browns have to play them twice every season. Such consistent teams should be much better early in the season than those integrating a ton of new players, coaches, and schemes. Except on Sunday, the Browns and Steelers appeared to be much closer on the competitive landscape than anyone should have expected. The defense held everyone not named Antonio Brown in check despite missing rookie star Myles Garrett and DeShone Kizer gave the Browns legitimate quarterback play in his first ever start.

There were obvious issues. The offense had zero push in the run game and Kizer took too many sacks. Kenny Britt is moving closer to Dwayne Bowe territory. The cornerbacks were expected to be a weakness and they delivered to expectations in Week 1. The Steelers did control the flow of the game in the second half, yet the score remained close throughout.

The biggest reason the Browns were in a competitive football game was the 2016 NFL Draft class. After an overall disappointing rookie year from the young players, the early returns on Year 2 are much more promising. Corey Coleman (five receptions, six targets, 53 yards, touchdown) and Seth DeValve (four receptions, five targets, 42 yards) led the way in receiving. Ricardo Louis was not too far behind them (two receptions, three targets, 32 yards). Joe Schobert (nine tackles, four solo) was everywhere on defense.1 Derrick Kindred (three tackles, two solo, two pass deflections) was making plays all over the field including an important interception (Steelers could have put the game away on that drive). Emmanual Ogbah struggled getting to Ben Roethlisberger but made a key pass deflection on a wide receiver screen and also set the edge to force LeVeon Bell and James Connor to the linebackers (43 yards on 14 carries). Carl Nassib was not a major impactful player on Sunday, but he did register a sack.

None of the sophomore players have proven themselves to be a NFL star. Shon Coleman had his issues in protection throughout the day, and Cody Kessler has dropped to third-string quarterback. However, the 2016 draft class proved it is far too early to give up on them as they were the foundation of the Browns on Sunday, and they should continue to be moving into the future.

DeShone Kizer versus Deshaun Watson

Whether anyone wants it to happen or not, Kizer and Watson will be compared throughout their careers. The narrative was set once the Browns decided to trade the No. 12 draft pick used to obtain Watson to the Houston Texans, then took the next quarterback in the draft at No. 52 in Kizer. The fact that these two quarterbacks were the first two from their draft class to obtain snaps for their teams only strengthens the arc even if it took the Texans pulling a Charlie Frye on Tom Savage for it to happen.

DeShone Kizer 20-for-30, 66.7%, 222 yards, 7.4 YPA, 1 TD, 1 INT, 7 sacks for -42 yards, 85.7 QBrating
Deshaun Watson 12-for-23, 52%, 102 yards, 4.4 YPA, 1 TD, 1 INT, 4 sacks for -21 yards, 60.4 QBrating

The early returns demonstrate that Kizer outplayed his counterpart though there are mitigating factors that caution about any definitives being drawn. Watson only played the second half of a blowout game, while Kizer was in a competitive contest for four quarters. Watson had more rush game support as Lamar Miller finished with 17 carries for 65 yards (3.8 yards per carry) compared to Isaiah Crowell’s 17 carries for 33 yards (1.9 yard per carry). Also, not included in the above statistics is that Watson also lost a fumble, while Kizer scored a rushing touchdown.

Still, each quarterback displayed many of the positives and negatives of their scouting profile. Watson moved through his reads and delivered good accuracy on his throws, but his weak arm meant that the correct decision was often a shorter, timing route (Brady Quinn would be embarrassed with a 4.4 YPA). Kizer showed off the cannon on a couple of occasions, but his timing accuracy can wane and he needs to develop a better internal clock (at least three of the sacks he took were on him).

Unbeatable Indians

Cheering for the 2017 Cleveland Indians has been great fun. Even so, winning 18 games in a row is unfathomable especially considering three of the teams swept during the streak (New York Yankees, Kansas City Royals, Baltimore Orioles) are fighting to get into the AL Wild Card game. The Tribe’s run has pushed them ahead of the Houston Astros in the MLB standings (crazy) and are within five games of the Los Angeles Dodgers for the best record in all of baseball. If the Indians sweep the Detroit Tigers, then they tie the all-time MLB record for wins in a row (Do not count the 26 game “winning streak” cited by ESPN on Sunday Night baseball as the New York Giants mixed in a tie during that streak. Most wins in a row is 21.). I’m sorry, let us properly emphasize the possibility.


There has been some thought floated that the Indians are peaking too early. Let us squash any such thought before it becomes a thing. A huge winning streak does not mean the Tribe is destined to win the World Series nor does it portend doom for somehow playing their best before October hits. The MLB postseason is a great reset on the MLB regular season with momentum heading into it playing as big of a role as the ranking of the ballpark concession stands.

The important items to line up for October are health and acquiring enough information to make competent roster decisions. Let us remember the Indians are on this streak without Andrew Miller, Jason Kipnis, and Michael Brantley (plus, plenty more have missed significant time during it).

It now appears they might have to complete the season without Bradley Zimmer after he broke his hand sliding into first base on Sunday night. MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports he sustained a fracture of the fourth metacarpal, which is below the palm and underneath the ring finger. The Tribe must once again move to their Next Man Up philosophy and determine if Greg Allen is ready to be a postseason contributor or if it is more intelligent to go with a rotation of Austin Jackson, Abraham Almonte, Brandon Guyer, and Tyler Naquin to complement Jay Bruce and Lonnie Chisenhall. With Brantley also possibily returning, the outfield has plenty of options. It is now up to the Indians to figure out which options will benefit the team the most.

Meanwhile, they just keep on winning. Keep on winning. Keep on winning, winning, winning.

  1. Major props to Joe Gilbert who has continued to praise Schobert’s development. []

  • Garry_Owen

    Can’t take a knee if you don’t have the lead. Well, you “can,” but that would be folly.

  • Harv

    so, you’re making my point?

  • Garry_Owen

    No, you made mine. Or are we making each others’? What was your point, again?

  • Sam Gold

    Yeah, I’ve heard they’re pretty good.

  • jpftribe

    I think this is a fair observation Sam, but a few counterpoints. The announcers talked about PIT taking away the quick slant routes, which would be an obvious game plan for any rookie QB. Running game was not good, but play mix did not abandon the run. He ran a lot of pre-snap shifts, which looked a lot to me like he was forcing PIT into coverage decisions. They did try and get the ball out to Coleman on screens and PIT blew those up quickly (as did the Browns D on the other side).

    On the 7 sacks, I saw in game two of them were blocking issues (one on Crow), but the others were “Throw the damn ball” rookie QB issues. Hard to say what was called, what he was supposed to do and if there was anyone open to actually throw to.

  • mgbode
  • jpftribe

    Yeah, but give PIT some credit. I’m sure they were forcing him into tough reads and throws too.

  • jpftribe

    They targeted him and won. He couldn’t match up with James.

  • jpftribe

    And winning me a 2-1 odds bet! #HueClockManagement

  • Harv

    – Let’s hear it for the swarm-to-the-ball defense. Multiple times their RBs looked ready to cut through a hole, only to have Browns descending from all angles, with sure tackling. Guys are drunk on Gregg’s koolaid. Schobert looks like a different guy, and seems to epitomize erring on the side of aggression. On the other hand, Ogbah still gets his tipped ball per game but was otherwise invisible.

    – Minority view: they didn’t run nearly enough, especially early. Steelers showed the right way, getting stuffed in the first half but sticking with it late until it started grinding yards. All the more reason Hue should keep hammering, rather than being so intent on having Kizer sample every pass in the first game. A running game improves by running, even when the stats hurt eyes.

    – Kizer really looks like all he needs is time and a few reliable weapons. Time to figure out he’ll lose winnable games or go on the IR if he doesn’t throw the ball away, that still being vertical 3.7 seconds after the snap does not prevent very bad things at 3.8. But that effortless downfield strength and nice touch. Finally, a kid worth care and feeding.

    – Steelers are so thin in the secondary that they guaranteed millions to Haden despite his fall off. So let’s hold off on saying Corey Coleman’s all that. He’s hung onto the ball two straight weeks, which is nice. So far on a possession receiver track; not close to doing something big after a catch, which was to be his strength.

    – Steelers kept the Browns in it with so many stupid penalties that it looked like they won’t take a Browns game seriously until they’re finally hit in the mouth. They seemed content to bully via cheap shot, their standard M.O. to remind us who’s the little brother.

    Overall, promising baby steps. I don’t care how many they win this year if talent and coaching start showing up.

  • mgbode

    No puns, no GIFs, just agreement.

  • mgbode

    He gives up a TD to Kasan Williams if Kizer makes a better throw.

  • CBiscuit
  • Jeremy Humbert

    PIT is an elite football team, year in and year out (that hurts to say), and thier D will most definitely end up top half or top 10. We went 1-15 last year, I think Hue was trying everything he could to gain any advantage, or cause deception.

  • tsm

    Switch Brown for Britt and we win. How is that for oversimplification?

  • Garry_Owen

    Well, that’s infringing on the realm of “fantasy,” and this ain’t no fantasy football. Let’s try to keep our oversimplification grounded in some small measure of reality.

  • tsm

    As they said in the 60’s – reality, I’ll have mine altered please!

  • mgbode

    Re-watched the overthrow to Duke and there’s a quite good chance he scores a TD with a better pass too.

  • Chris
  • scripty

    They also did a great job of getting plays in, getting organized, audiblizing (or faking that). Good loud calls of blocking assignments, etc – they looked like a professional offense.

  • Saggy

    They saved money and got rid of a player who wasn’t good enough to start. That sends a message to the rest of the team that good enough is just not good enough anymore.

    Also, it gives younger guys a chance to play – guys who might possibly be in the future plans, which Haden was most definitely not.

    Lastly, if you take the train of thought that Haden is an asset, it further weakens the defensive depth, thus ensuring a high pick come draft time.

    I want the Browns to make the playoffs this year. If they don’t, I want them to win at least 5 games. But if they can’t do that, the next best alternative is the #1 pick in the draft. By your calculations, trading Haden gets you closer to that.

  • Saggy

    Dang, if anyone on this site appreciates the other side it’s Michael. TB, too.

  • mgbode

    Marty said it for effect, and I earned it by not putting my full take on the front end of things.

  • jpftribe

    Think of it this way. Bad decision for 2017. Good decision for 2018. If you think they have a shot at making a run this year, then feel bad. He was definitely gone next year and now the cap hit is minimal.

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  • Jeremy Humbert

    I wasn’t there, and watched on tv, and looked like our guys couldn’t get separation on most of the ppassing plays, and ita not sureprising co sidrink who plays wr for us… looked like on the one deep throw (a 60 yarder?) Down the sideline, that the receiver who I can t remember had his guy beat, but stepped out of bounds while making the catch, otherwise, I thought Kizer did well, and I didn’t think, “OH MY GOSH, HE ONLY COMPLETED 20 OF 30, or whatever… the receivers are underwhelming at best

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