Browns Quarterback Review: Week 4 versus Cincinnati

The dumpster fire that is the Browns offense remained baffling in Week 4. The malaise that is the current Cleveland Browns runs much deeper. The total unrest from top to bottom has become the biggest issue DeShone Kizer has had to face, and the perpetual ineptitude that plagues the front office and its coaching staff has left holes so deep that we may never be able to adequately judge the young quarterback.

Have a look at the chart below:

Kizer’s statistical line for Week 4 is ugly. His length of passes was ugly. His accuracy on said passes was ugly. His performance by his skill position peers was equally ugly.

We have seen a brazen nature in play-calling and decision making from Hue Jackson and DeShone in Weeks 1-3, but we saw the antithesis on Sunday. Kizer kept all but one throw under ten yards. There isn’t a real realm of positivity here, but the task of analyzing remains.

Pro Football Focus graded Kizer at 71.1. This number is low because of the five drops he labored through, yet it isn’t quite as low as it should be when evaluating the struggle we saw throughout the day. He led the offense to under 200 total yards, and that still feels like too many in total. The Bengals never truly seemed threatened defensively, and they had a pulse for the Browns game plan from the opening kickoff.

Kizer never looked comfortable, and he rarely seemed confident in his decisions — especially after the Kenny Britt drop turned interception in the second quarter. Kizer is a young impressionable quarterback, as all 21 year old rookies are, and what he is witnessing around him is no doubt affecting his overall outlook. Cleveland has a stern reputation for ruining quarterbacks, and as much as I didn’t want to believe Kizer would be another, we are at the beginning stages of heading down that path. Let’s take a look at the minutiae in Kizer’s performance.


Grade: D

Kizer is still missing too many throws. He had a problem Sunday of working to the right sideline bending his back knee too steep and projecting the ball too high on multiple occasions – almost with his chest pointing upward instead of through the target. He has some issues shifting and resetting his feet as well, and far too often double clutched. Overall, this one is right in line with Week 2 against Baltimore for his worst performance in this category all year.

First example of missing a throw to the right sideline. Timing seems awry also as he double pumps prior to his throw on the comeback.

Q2 – 2:06 – Incomplete

Another example later in the game. Kizer is just launching the ball upward instead of staying on top of it and driving it from a high launch point.

Q4 – 13:37 – Incomplete

Pocket Awareness

Grade: D

Kizer never felt comfortable in the pocket on Sunday. There were multiple times where Kizer could feel the pressure, and he didn’t adjust accordingly like we have seen in prior weeks. One of Kizer’s natural strengths is his presence in the pocket when things are breaking down around him. If this area falters, he is due for a poor day.

There are a few examples like this where Kizer felt pressure in his face, but didn’t reset his feet according to where he needed and missed a throw. Something was just off.

Q4 – 12:20 – Incomplete

There weren’t many examples like this of a clean pocket climb that leads to a completion.

Q4 – 13:32 – 8-yard completion to Njoku


Grade: D+

Again, 16-of-34 paints the picture here. Anytime you’re under 50 percent completion, the accuracy isn’t quite there. The problem is that most of the ugliness occurred via drops or missed timing again.

Kizer needed more of these throws we saw from the first three weeks. He hits Britt here on a glance route that is fit perfectly in-between the Bengals Cover 4 for a key first down early in the second quarter.

Q2 – 11:55 – 26 yard completion to Britt

Another nice ball here by Kizer to Britt on a timing slant late in the 4th quarter. We saw more positive than negative in terms of accuracy, it was just the timing of the bad throws that hurt Kizer most.

Q4 – 14:07 – 16 yard completion to Britt

Speaking of missing throws that hurt in key situations, Kizer missing this throw on a key 3rd down hurt when the game was still in play. Higgins beats Dennard on a corner route and Kizer is just off. He can’t miss these throws.

Q2 – 2:00 – Incomplete

Decision Making

Kizer: F

Decision making is where I think Kizer struggled most. There are multiple examples of him just plain missing a read, or making the incorrect call. This is the most concerning area for me, and I hope we don’t see this trend continue.

This play made me cringe. Kizer has to know which way his line is sliding, and if he has a hot route against the blitz, he has to know where it is. He seems oblivious to the Bengals bringing two off the backside, and his back is wide open had he been able to see this.

Q2 – 12:34 – Kizer sack

Here Kizer predetermines he is going to throw to his back releasing on a flat route although the play side linebacker is on it right from the snap. He almost gets Duke Johnson hurt here. This was one of the many confusing decisions I noticed on Sunday.

Q4 – 12:54 – 0 yard completion to Johnson

Lastly we see Kizer on his first pass on Sunday. On a play action fake we see Kizer elude Carlos Dunlap after Joel Bitonio whiffs and instead of keeping his eyes downfield, he tucks the ball and runs. It’s tough to blame him when he is feeling immense pressure immediately, but had he kept his eyes downfield he would’ve seen Njoku running wide open for a big first play.

Overall Grade: D

Kizer wasn’t at his best on Sunday, and that is synonymous with the type of performance we saw from the entire team as well. The margin for error with these Browns is so small that they can’t afford repetitive mistakes from their key skill position payers.

Kizer is being dealt a rough hand here. His coaches and skill position peers simply aren’t helping him enough, and it is easy to see that the pressure is wearing on him. He keeps saying all the right things. When asked Monday about putting struggling teammates on his shoulders, Kizer had this to say:

“Absolutely. That is my job. They brought me here to play quarterback here, and they deemed me the starting quarterback Week 1. It is on me to make sure that I am doing whatever I can to help my teammates around me develop, as well as developing myself.”

The pressure won’t ease for Kizer anytime soon. I’ll keep hoping those around him can make things easier for him — the kid clearly needs it.

  • mgbode

    5-for-16 to Kizer’s right (strong side for RH-QB) is putrid especially with 4 of those 5 completions under 5 yds.

  • RGB
  • Noah.caldwell

    hey Sam Darnold how’s it going

  • paulbip

    play Hogan

  • BenRM

    Hue is ruining Kizer, right?

  • BenRM

    Not well, actually.

  • mddawg

    This is depressing, I’m already tuning out of this season 8 games earlier than usual. Why do we always get the rookie who doesn’t make an instant impact? How good were the Eagles last year? Yet Wentz looked very decent. This year the Texans aren’t that good either but Watson is setting records. 18 yrs of futility has taken it’s toll on me.

  • tigersbrowns2

    hi MD … Wentz & Watson have good supporting casts. how good do you think these guys would be doing if they were in Cleveland ?

  • tigersbrowns2

    does Kizer simply have too many things running through his mind ?? … just go out & play … don’t overthink things.

  • BenRM

    I will continue to argue that Wentz does not have a very good supporting cast.

    Jeffery had that one year in Chicago, but not much since. Agholor has not done anything prior to this year. The ghost of Torrey Smith isn’t anything to write home about. Wendall Smallwood is just another guy. Blount is only good when he plays in a patriots uniform (70%+ of his TDs came from 3.5 seasons in NE).

    Ertz is the only one of those players I’d be like, “Yeh, he’s pretty solid.”

    Is it a better cast than what Cleveland has? Sure. Some high schools have better supporting casts. But it’s not like Philly has some world-beater offense.

  • tigersbrowns2

    hi BEN … that’s fair. Blount is 13th in the NFL in rushing with 249 yards & that is counting 0 carries in week 2 … he also has a healthy 5.9 ypc & has scored twice. he should have a very nice season now that Sproles is out … Jeffery will have nice numbers by season’s end , provided he can stay on the field.

  • mddawg

    How come Tom Savage couldn’t do squat with the same supporting cast? Watson already showing a great understanding of the position. Read the Texans’ fim study and compare it to Kizer’s.

  • woofersus

    I said before the season and still believe today that starting Kizer was the wrong move. He wasn’t ready – isn’t ready. He’s obviously less confident today in his decision making than he was in week 1, and I just don’t buy that being out there utterly overwhelmed is good for anybody’s development. He still has footwork and mechanics issues to work on, the playbook is almost certainly limited by the amount of time he’s had to learn how a pro offense works, and he’s got a lot more film to analyze before he’s comfortable making much in the way of presnap reads. Meanwhile, the Browns destroy his value if they end up with tough decisions to make about the top of the draft for next spring. Cody Kessler should have been the starter, I don’t care how low his ceiling is. The other players on the field need to develop too, and as much as Kizer’s targets aren’t doing him any favors, the reverse can be said much of the time as well. There are a bunch of plays where there is an open target and Kizer hesitates, and the window closes or he throws late or he has to look elsewhere and gets sacked.

    I like his arm talent and intangibles still, but whether it’s the coach or the FO that made the call, they fell into the “shiny new QB optimism” trap, (not to be confused with the “we might as well see what we’ve got” trap that happens after the first couple of games) and I would hope the analytical types either have real good numbers to back the decision up or make an adjustment to their process based on this experience. Teams never do this, but it’s not too late to stop playing Kizer and let him learn on the practice field and in the film room for a while longer before you get him hurt and ruin him for good.

  • tigersbrowns2

    well , i would say , in accordance with this article , that Savage is nowhere near the athlete Watson is … strictly a pocket passer.

  • tigersbrowns2

    good post WOOF … there were a few of us that thought Kessler would surely be the starter this year … it was really disappointing he regressed to 3rd / 4th string. that said , Hue went with the best guy … Kizer outplayed the other 3 the whole pre-season & won the starting job.

    then there are the 2 schools of thought : sit & learn or learn on the job … hard to say what the right answer is , but i’m for letting him play.

  • woofersus

    I think that’s part of the trap, though. His superior arm talent makes him look like the best guy in preseason, with super vanilla defenses and 4-man pass rushes. His ability to read and adjust isn’t tested, and he has more time to throw than he will when the games count. Kessler did look more disappointing than expected, but we know from last year he can do some things – limited things, but he certainly had more success in the games he played last year than Kizer has so far.

    It’s a mistake to make decisions primarily on what you see in preseason, especially when you’re influenced by new qb syndrome. The new qb is tall and handsome and says the right things and he throws hard, so you forget that those things alone don’t make for a success on the field and that putting him out there before he’s ready can get him hurt.

    But as you say, there are two schools of thought on this, and I’ve always been in the sit & learn camp, so I may be biased. The Browns sure haven’t seen much success with the play him and see model, though.

  • mgbode

    I don’t know. Phil looks like he’s got some wheels on him.

  • tigersbrowns2

    and maybe the biggest reason is the Browns just do not have much QB talent right now , pretty much forcing Hue’s hand … I am Kizer’s biggest supporter , but if he flops this weekend , it might be a good time to go to Hogan … 1) to give Kizer a mental break & 2) Hogan won the back-up job & has made the most of his opportunities.

  • BenRM

    I feel like the plan was to have Kessler play most of the season…but then Kessler ruined it by being totally awful.

    That said, I am at the point where I truly believe Hue has destroyed any off-season progress made by Kizer. Play Kessler. Let him be awful for 12 games. Draft a QB.