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.