Browns, Cleveland Browns Film Room

Browns Film Room: Examining Kizer’s best game as a starting QB

The Cleveland Browns lost their ninth game of the season, falling to the Detroit Lions, 38-24. However, there were some bright spots in the loss, including from quarterback DeShone Kizer.

In the game, Kizer completed 21-of-37 passes for 232 yards, a touchdown and an interception, while also rushing for 57 yards and a touchdown. The young signal caller had his best performance of the season, showing some real improvement from the first half of the season. He had a lot of positive plays and was improved from his previous starts, but he also did show some of the same struggles he had from earlier in the season.

In this week’s Browns film room, we will take a look at Kizer’s game versus the Lions, examining the highs and lows of his performance. We will take a look at the positive plays and negative plays that made up his performance versus the Lions. So with that, let’s roll the tape!

Positive Signs

Q1 13:02- 38-yard pass from QB DeShone Kizer to WR Sammie Coates

DeShone Kizer showed a few things on this opening play. Before the snap, Kizer saw the blitzing safety coming down on the left side of the field. This meant that he could see single coverage on the left outside receiver, Sammie Coates. But, he went he even further to help get a one-on-one matchup for Coates. When the ball is snapped, Kizer keeps his eyes in the middle of the field, focusing on the tight end going down the right hash. This focus forces the only deep safety to stay in the middle of the field, leaving Lions cornerback Nevin Lawson in single coverage with no help versus Coates. Kizer finishes the successful play with an absolute dime throw, placing it right in stride to Coates. The pass was over the shoulder of Coates, where only the receiver can get it. It was an excellent play by Kizer throughout.

Q1 8:46- 19-yard touchdown pass from QB DeShone Kizer to WR Kenny Britt

This play is another good and quick read by Kizer. Before the snap, the Browns shifted the tight end to the right side of the line, exposing the defensive play call the Lions were in. Kizer was able to see that the Lions were in man coverage. Following the shift and right before the snap, the Lions showed a cornerback blitz on the left side of the field. This meant that there would be single coverage on both receivers on the left side of the field. Kizer read that blitz quickly and correctly decides to throw where the blitzer was coming from. As he received the snap, he only took one step back, knowing that he needed to get the ball out fast. After that one step, he fired the pass to receiver Kenny Britt, who was running a short stick route along the left sideline. Kizer delivered the ball on time and accurately, allowing Britt to catch the ball and have a chance to make a move against the Lions cornerback he was lined up one-on-one, Nevin Lawson. Britt catches the ball and makes a nice move, eluding the tackle attempt by Lawson and then running all the way to the endzone for the touchdown. It was a nice quick read by Kizer that led to the touchdown.

Q2 3:06- 18-yard pass from QB DeShone Kizer to WR Rashard Higgins

Kizer shows nice patience on this play. The Browns line up in a shotgun with three receivers out wide, a tight end on the right end of the offensive line and a running back to the left of Kizer. The Lions are in zone coverage for this play and are rushing four defenders, along with a blitzing corner from the left edge. The main route to watch on the play is receiver Rashard Higgins, who is running a post route in the left slot. First of all, running back Duke Johnson allows this play to succeed by perfectly picking up the blitzing cornerback and keeping Kizer clean to patiently wait for Higgins to get open. As Kizer gets good protection, the young signal caller stays calm in the pocket. Kizer read that the defense was in zone coverage, so he knew he could take advantage of a gap in the zone if he was patient. Kizer showed anticipation, beginning his throwing motion when Higgins was behind the inside linebacker covering the middle of the field. When Higgins gets past and inside the linebacker, Kizer’s pass is there on time to take advantage of the small gap in the zone. The pass is completed because Kizer read the zone coverage correctly and showed good timing and anticipation to fit the ball where the receiver would be left open.

Q3 13:14- 12-yard pass from QB DeShone Kizer to WR Ricardo Louis

This play is an example of some great ball placement by Kizer. Receiver Ricardo Louis is running a 15-yard out route along the right sideline. Kizer reads that he has one-on-one coverage on the outside between Louis and Lions cornerback Darius Slay. Kizer receives the snap and quickly makes his decision to throw towards Louis. Kizer shows great timing by releasing the ball before Louis made his break toward the sideline. This timing was then supplemented by perfect ball placement. Kizer throws the ball high and to the sideline, allowing just the receiver to make the catch. The timing and placement of the throw allowed the pass to be completed even with superb coverage that Slay had on Louis.

Q3 7:37- QB DeShone Kizer scrambles for a 20-yard gain

In this play, the Browns are faced in a 3rd-and-8 play. The Browns are in a shotgun formation with four pass catchers out wide and a running back to the left of Kizer. The Lions decide to blitz six defenders, leaving man coverage on the four out wide and deep safety over top. As the play develops, the blitz by the Lions is centralized on the left side of the line. The pocket is pushed toward the left, leaving the right edge open with no contain. With every other defender in man coverage down field or way too deep to react to the play, the middle of the field is wide open. So, Kizer leaves out the right side of the pocket and has an open lane up the field. Kizer uses his athleticism to convert the third down and pull off a big 20-yard gain.

Q3 3:50- 35-yard pass from QB DeShone Kizer to TE Seth DeValve

This play shows nice accuracy and eyes by Kizer. For this 2nd-and-15 play, the Lions are in zone coverage in the middle of the field, which is the big focus on the play. The Browns line up in a singleback set with two out wide and a tight end on both side of the line. The Browns send the two out wide and the tight end on the left end of the line down the field in streak routes. The key route is tight end Seth DeValve, who rather than head straight down field like the rest of the Browns pass catchers, he runs down field, but while going diagonally toward the left. With this route concept, DeValve takes advantage of the zone coverage, finding a void in the defense, behind the linebackers. But, Kizer helps this become possible by using his eyes. He does not latch onto DeValve the entire time. He actually moves his eyes to the right side of the field, causing the deep safety, who is the only coverage above the linebackers in zone coverage, to focus on the right side of the field and leave the left open for DeValve to fill. DeValve gets into the open void in the defense and Kizer fires an accurate ball to the tight end for a nice 35-yard completion.

Q4 3:36- Nine-yard pass from QB DeShone Kizer to TE Seth DeValve

This is a clutch throw and a tough throw by Kizer. Kizer is faced with a 4th-and-6 situation where the Browns need to get a first down to continue their attempt to come back from a two touchdown deficit. The key route is tight end Seth DeValve, running a 10-yard stick route from the left slot. DeValve runs a strong route with the tight end ending his route in position to receive the pass and get the first down. Kizer fires an absolute dart and converts the first down. But, he did this under the pressure of a fourth down circumstance and while he was about to be punished by the oncoming rusher. He completes the pass and is subsequently hit hard by the rusher.

Q4 1:39- 17-yard pass from QB DeShone Kizer to TE Seth DeValve

Kizer showed good decision-making and patience on this play. The Lions were in a prevent defense with deep zone coverage to defend against the deep pass for this 4th-and-10 situation. The Browns had three deep routes on the play and the play looked to be supposed to be going to one of those pass catchers. But with the heavy coverage, all three pass catchers were not open. Rather than force a throw to one of them or try to scramble out of the pocket, Kizer stays in the pocket and continues to scan the field for an open target. Kizer finds tight end Seth DeValve leaking out of the backfield wide open, completing the pass to the tight end and converting the first down in the process.

Not So Good Signs

Q1 3:37- QB DeShone Kizer throws incomplete pass to TE David Njoku

Kizer shows some of his struggles with his accuracy and timing on throws. In the play, tight end David Njoku is running a streak route down the left numbers. The opportunity is there for a big play. Njoku is running against linebacker Jarrad Davis, which is a huge mismatch for the athletic tight end. Njoku immediately beats Davis and gets behind the linebacker. The Lions just have one deep safety over top and that safety is too far away to react to the play on time. Kizer is late to react to the mismatch, throwing a tad later than he should have to not let the safety get even close to the area to make a play. But, he still threw at a time where Njoku could make a big play. However, the pass is horribly underthrown and is broken up by the trailing linebacker. The pass needed more touch and loft to throw it over the shoulders of the tight end. His underthrow allowed the linebacker to recover and make a play on the pass.

Q4 3:06- QB DeShone Kizer completes pass to WR Sammie Coates for no gain

This is a play where Kizer’s inaccurate pass hurts the success of the play. The play is a quick screen to receiver Sammie Coates. Kizer throws the pass immediately, but highly inaccurately. The pass is high and to the left of Coates, forcing the receiver to go backwards to make the catch. With Coates going backwards, it allows cornerback Darius Slay to come down and make a tackle on Coates before the receiver had a chance to make a move to avoid the tackler. The inaccurate pass hurt the success of the play.

Q4 2:19- QB DeShone Kizer throws the ball away

This is a missed opportunity by Kizer. The focus on the play is tight end David Njoku in the right slot and receiver Rashard Higgins lined up to the outside of Njoku. Both players are being covered with man coverage. Njoku is running a streak route down the right hashes, while Higgins is running a corner route. These two routes ended up being a problem for the Lions coverage. The Lions had two safeties in the play, but the safety on the left side of the field comes up and looks to be in charge of tracking the running back out of the backfield. This leaves one deep safety to help cover the two deep routes by Njoku and Higgins. The safety had to choose where he was going to help out, so he was sort of in a no man’s land. Njoku once again beats the man covering him, safety Tavon Wilson, and is running open down the middle of the field. The deep safety was not in position to get over to Njoku, so a big play could have been had if Kizer reacted quickly. But, Kizer had happy feet on the play. Rather than stand strong in the pocket and remain in the pocket a little longer, Kizer left the pocket too early. He was facing some pressure on his right, but he still had time to step up in the pocket and fire the pass to Njoku, who was just getting open. Kizer’s happy feet caused him to miss a possible big play.

Q4 1:23- QB DeShone Kizer intercepted by CB Darius Slay

This final play shows the consistent struggle from DeShone Kizer with his throwing touch. The Browns set up a fade route to receiver Ricardo Louis. Kizer throws the fade way too hard and far back into the endzone. He did not really notice the route of Louis, throwing it to a spot where Louis really had no chance of competing for in time, given how hard Kizer threw the pass. The pass should have been thrown toward the front pylon rather than the back pylon. Louis had a long way to get to the back of the endzone and the time Kizer gave him really did not give Louis a chance. The throw could have been a jump ball toward the front pylon because Louis was in position to possibly win that battle. The overall play is not really one of my favorite plays in the playbook, but Kizer’s touch gave it no chance.

Highlight of the Week

The highlight of the week for the Browns versus the Detroit Lions was defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah. Ogbah had a heck of a game. The Browns edge rusher notched three tackles, three tackles for a loss, two quarterback hits and two sacks. He was tough to block all game and really was a difference maker for the Browns defense.

Lowlight of the Week

The lowlight of the week for the Browns versus the Detroit Lions was quarterback Cody Kessler. He was just a disaster when the Browns went to him after Kizer left with an injury. Kessler completed one of three passes for five yards. The game was pretty much decided by Kessler’s poor stint in the game. He could not move the offense at all, which allowed the Lions to score unanswered points and extend the lead to an insurmountable lead.

Joe Gilbert’s 2017 Season Film Rooms

Week 1 (Run Game)
Week 2 (Ben Watson’s Big Day)
Week 3 (Q2 Big Plays vs Colts)
Week 4 (Game changing plays vs Bengals)
Week 5 (Myles Garrett’s debut)
Week 6 (What are they doing vs HOU)
Week 7 (Spencer Drango)
Week 8 (Briean Boddy-Calhoun)