Another week, another series of lessons for a young Cleveland Browns football team. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the mistakes and become angry at the Browns proclivity to come up short. Yet, I remain an optimist because I loathe misery and its love for company. I am perpetually searching for the positive life offers us, and Hue Jackson sounded much the same in his post-game press conference regarding his attitude toward the Browns winless start. “I’m not discouraged,” said Jackson, who fell to 1-18 in his second season as Brown coach. “I’m disappointed because I know what we’re trying to accomplish and I see signs of things. It’s just not happening fast enough. We’ve got to go back and coach better. It starts with us. Then we got to make sure players are getting it and getting it right. Nothing magical is going to happen. There’s no new players or anything like that’s going to come in. We got to get better. That’s what we have to do.”
This was never going to happen fast, and most of us understood that. The Browns continue to play young players, many in their first or second year, and mistakes will happen. The battle Hue Jackson will have to fight, as we move forward, is to figure out how to win enough games in the process to keep the vibes positive in the locker room – a losing locker room can become a dangerous place.
In Week 3 DeShone Kizer continued the trends we have witnessed in the previous two starts: some grown man throws and some throws that left plenty to desire. Kizer has always had the arm talent, the issue moving forward will be how he keeps his mistakes to a minimum. Quarterbacks are judged in part by their ability to limit mistakes, especially turnovers. Kizer is unfortunately on pace for 37 interceptions. That pace won’t hold – at least I hope not. I worry most about Kizer’s psyche. Although Kizer is saying all the right things, I cannot help but wonder how it affects him. “Once again, I am learning week in and week out that this game is based upon executing as much as you possibly can at the highest level as you possibly can every play and that every play does matter.” Kizer said. “Obviously, you go back and you watch that film and you see that there are some specific plays that can chance the momentum and change the outcome of the game.”
Drops, timing mistakes, and sacks have a dramatic effect on a quarterback’s brain, it messes with his ability to see the field as he should. He has to trust what he is seeing, and process it quickly. Quarterbacks lose it in this league when they lose trust in what they see, or lose faith in those around them to do their jobs. Something all too common in Browns franchise history post-1999. Kizer needs a few clean games under his belt, games where he can point to the crisp decision-making I think we have seen so far, and a few games where he shows himself, and his confidence, that things can go right. I hope we see this soon. But first, lets breakdown some of Kizer’s Week 3 categories.
I think we saw some strides here this week from Kizer. I enjoy growth from week to week and Kizer improved upon his issues with hip direction/foot placement when throwing to his left. Having said that, there are some issues in play-action that Kizer needs to improve upon – specifically his ball-handling, he isn’t selling it enough. Let’s take a look.
Q4 – 3:08 – Louis drop
Kizer showed an ability all day to get his hips and foot in a better place to drive it to his left. Louis doesn’t help here.
Q2 – 14:36 – 38 yard completion
Kizer, to his left again, drive this ball with much better hip/foot angle up the sideline to Britt. Great throw.
Q1 – 4:56 – Incomplete to Njoku
Kizer has to extend the ball on play-action to sell his fakes. He isn’t doing it and the results in what should be a key aspect of the Browns game-plan’s are rendering poor results.
Q2 – 5:14 – Incomplete to Njoku
Another example of Kizer just not quite holding defenders long enough with his fake. He isn’t extending the ball or using head movement enough to sell it. This can be fixed with practice work, and refocusing on the details.
Kizer didn’t have many great examples here. The offensive line didn’t help much by failing to pick up just about any twist scheme the Colts threw at them. Kizer did a better job of getting out of the pocket when he needed to, and getting rid of the ball quicker to avoid much maneuvering within. He did however make this grown man throw with pressure from JC Tretter’s missed block in his face.
Q2 – 9:15 – 20 yard competion to DeValve
I thought Kizer mixed in some really accurate throws with some that seemed behind them as well – specifically his second interception. His deep accuracy was improved on the day, and he showed some nice touch. Kizer has also shown he can drive the ball into tight windows accurately, but he has to find that consistency and we didn’t see enough on Sunday.
Q2 – 1:56 – Incomplete to Louis
Just a perfect ball. Needless to say, Louis has to be better next week.
Q2 – 0:43 – 26 yard completion to Leslie
Tremendous catch by Leslie, but you can’t drop a ball in much better than Kizer did here after eye manipulation.
Q3 – 9:25 – Incomplete to Britt
We saw some of this too. Kizer has to drive this ball in when corners give his wide receivers a cushion.
Q3 – 0:22 – Interception
Kizer makes a sound throwing decision here against Cover 3, but he keeps this one too far outside as Britt is working back toward the hash, away from the corner. He just has to place this one better for Britt – who could as help his young Q by making a play, alas.
Kizer = C
Another day where I think Kizer’s decision making improved. A majority of his throwing choices are the correct choice, but he just has to make sure he is delivering the ball accurately. He still needs to refine his out-of-pocket decisions, particularly throwing the dang thing away.
Q3 – 8:39 – Interception
This one is tough. The only people who know the responsibility of this interception lie inside the Browns locker room. It looks like Kizer was expecting Williams to turn outside, but Williams buttoned it in against the Cover 3 corner. These will always publicly fall on the quarterback, and with this Browns driving for a score, this one is unacceptable so close to the end zone.
Q4 – 9:31 – Incomplete to Louis
Kizer didn’t make many poor throwing choices, but here he does. He stares down Louis on a post/hitch action and is lucky the throw was poor or Malik Hooker would have been off the other way. This is a rookie throw.
Q4 – 7:18 – Kizer runs for 13 yards
Kizer did a better job of using his scrambling ability to pick up some yards. This is part of his progression in decision making. Nice work here.
Q4 – 7:04 – 11 yard TD to Britt
I count this as a quality decision although some would chalk this up to luck. Kizer realizes his wide receiver is running with a step against a corner with his back turned. If it is 1 on 1 with trail position, this is always a wise throw in the NFL where flags are prevalent. Nice ball here, and it’s nice to see Britt catch one for his quarterback.
Q3 – 12:09 – Kizer sack
Although we are seeing less of this, it is still unacceptable. Just know when to throw it away.
Overall Grade: C
Kizer did plenty of good on Sunday. He made NFL throws all day, and his deep ball improved. Pocket awareness and mobility continue to be a plus. What Kizer can’t continue to do is have these games where he misses badly on four to five throws. More often than not, those balls end up in defenders hands in the NFL. On the day Kizer was 22-47 for 242 yards with 2 touchdowns and 3 interceptions – he third interception was a hail mary, which are always unfair to the quarterback. It’s easy to see that line jump to 60% completion and 300+ yards if the Browns eliminate the eight drops and few of the offensive pass interference issues.
Much of the Browns heavy reliance on Kizer is related to the slow starts we are seeing from the offense. Kizer knows this when he addressed the media after the game, “It is a mindset. It is 100 percent a mentality walking into the game, understanding that the gameplan that you have is exactly what is needed to beat that team. In order to execute that game plan, it is going to take all of us to buy into it and do our job correctly. It is an order for us to understand our system to be able to step out there and still be able to execute in the early parts of the game where they might not be giving you the look that you saw consistently on tape.”
All fans want the Browns to run more, and expect Kizer to do less and I agree, but when the Browns fall behind as consistently as they have (the Browns have yet to hold a lead all season), throwing the ball becomes begrudgingly necessary. The hope is the Browns can find that balance they so desperately need by starting the game faster, and getting out in front of the scoreboard.
DeShone Kizer keeps showing me he is an NFL caliber staring quarterback, we just need to see both Kizer and his offensive teammates put an entire quality game together. Hopefully that happens when the Bengals come to town this weekend.