Well well well, it would appear that we finally have a little bit of progress in the team that is known as the Cleveland Browns. Yes, it was another defeat but I actually quite enjoyed watching the Browns on both sides of the ball this week – I haven’t been able to say that for a long time!
What a start to the game by DE Emanuel Ogbah! On the very first plays of the first Detroit Lions drive, Ogbah blew it up with a sack and a tackle for loss which helped to make the Lions go 3-and-out. He ended the game with 3 solo tackles, 2 sacks, 3 tackles for loss and 2 QB hits. This guy along with Myles Garrett on the other side and Carl Nassib subbing in are going to be a force to be reckoned with for years to come.
Things didn’t end so well for LB Jamie Collins after a good start. He recognised a play and dropped into the centre of the field to get the interception of a Matt Stafford throw and if he’d stayed down after the catch he’d have been ok. He did get up, after not being touched, in an attempt to gain more yards which turned out to be a bad idea as his right leg got bent in an awkward manner as players landed on it. It’s thought to be an MCL sprain and will likely see him out for a few weeks. This isn’t good news as he’s a talented player and has already missed some weeks after being in the concussion protocol already this season.
This isn’t great for the Browns as Collins is clearly one of the more talented and gifted athletes on the defence, but it’s not a disaster either. I say this as James Burgess Jr. will step in for him and he’s proven himself to also be a good player.
All-in-all, the defence did another decent job even though the 38 points against them would suggest otherwise. I’m basing this comment on the fact that the team is in rebuild mode and, although the defence is ahead of the offence, not all of the pieces are in place yet.
The biggest thing I’d like to see happen to the defence is for them to get some more pieces in place in that secondary. They’re doing a lot better than I thought they would but I don’t think Jamar Taylor is as good at CB this season and I really want to see Jabrill Peppers switched from free safety to strong safety where he can play up in the box more and have more of an influence on games. He’s very athletic and hits hard and plays well against both the pass and run.
They need to get better and younger at the cornerback position but I’d love to see them take Derwin James from FSU in the first round and plug him in at free safety and move Peppers to strong safety. If there’s one thing I’d like to see done in the draft this year, it’s that (I’m one of the ones who would like to see them get a good veteran QB for Kizer to sit behind before going for one in the draft, in a few years, should Kizer not be “the guy”). Again, all this will be in another post sometime after this season is finished.
There were two big improvements for the Cleveland Browns this week and they both came on the offensive side of the ball (let’s be honest, they’ve stank up until now!). Those were the play of QB DeShone Kizer and the output of the running game.
DeShone Kizer played his best pro game of football, to date, by far. He came out guns loaded and ready to fire as he launched his first pass 38-yards down the left sideline to WR Sammy Coates who made the catch (very unlike a 2017 Cleveland Browns WR).
He’s now releasing the ball quicker instead of standing in the pocket panicking as he struggles with confidence and vision to throw the ball downfield. He’s massively improved in confidence, it would seem, as he’s now releasing the ball quicker meaning the opponents pass rush isn’t getting to him and the players in pass-coverage aren’t having an easy time of reading the play as it develops (slowly) and making a play on it. Massive, massive improvements. I did really like a couple of his passes to Rashard Higgins and Ricardo Louis that he placed perfectly into tight windows for the receiver to make the catch. It’s these types of passes that Kizer wouldn’t have had the confidence to throw in previous weeks.
He also ran the ball well when the Lions D dropped into coverage. This served to keep them on their toes and stop them sitting back comfortably in pass coverage. What I’m saying is, his game was greatly improved and I for one enjoyed watching the offence go to work for once. There were still too many dropped passes but I think we’ll have to put up with that for the rest of the season, unfortunately.
The obvious downside to his performance was the poor selection of play to call at the line just before the first half ran out. I believe he changed the play to a QB sneak which failed, this meant time in the half ran out before they could set up again to spike the ball and try a field goal attempt. Better options would have been to go for the field goal or a pass that would have been a TD or incompletion meaning a stopped clock.
So, the stopped-clock incident aside, is this the turning point in DeShone Kizer’s career? I hope so as he looked much improved to me. I’m not ready to jump on any Kizer-hype train yet, but I am encouraged by his performance in this game.
The running game looked good as well with both Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson Jr. having good games. Crowell nearly passed the 100-yard mark as he went for 90-yards on 16 carries with 1TD, whilst Johnson helped himself to 54-yards on 10 carries. I still want to see more of Johnson but if Crowell is going to play like that then I’m a happy fan.
Cody Kessler came into the game after TE David Njoku totally messed up and missed picking up the blitzing defensive back was went on to slam Kizer in the ribs and drive him to the ground. It looked to me as if Njoku had tunnel vision as he looked at the linebacker, expecting him to blitz and therefore totally missed the DB coming from wider out. The result of the hit after Njoku failed to pick up the blitzer was DeShone Kizer sitting out a couple of series with what looked like sore ribs.
Kessler looked like exactly the player he has shown us he is; a poor-quality bench-warmer. I know he came in as a sub but he’s paid to be ready at all times, but he clearly wasn’t. I imagine he’ll be gone, one way or another, in the off-season as he really hasn’t shown much even though he’s been given a chance.
He was sacked 3 times the amount of completions he threw, which is dreadful play. I can’t actually remember seeing a worse performance, to be honest. When he wasn’t getting sacked he was over-throwing a pass to WR Bryce Treggs who’d beaten the DB and would have gone for the TD if Kessler had any ability to throw an accurate long pass. I’m now embarrassed about the posts I did before the season started saying that he should be given the chance to be a game-manager for the first half of the season whilst Kizer gets used to the NFL.
WR Kenny Britt finally decided to show up and play a game of football this season. He was targetted 3 times and made 2 catches of which one he took for a TD after putting a good move on the defender to get past him and into the endzone. Even so, I still hope he gets traded at the end of the season as he doesn’t look interested in playing and after he slated the UK, he can sod off as far as I’m concerned.
Another WR that I’ll not be bothered about seeing the back of is Bryce Treggs. He’s only in his second year and he has the measurables, but he just doesn’t catch enough catchable passes in my opinion. I’d be surprised if he’s still on the roster next year if the team adds to that unit, as they desperately need to, in the off-season.
Sammy Coates caught his two targets of which one was the 38-yard first pass of the game for the Browns, but then disappeared from the game.
The better receivers for the Browns in this game were TE Seth DeValve, RB Duke Johnson and WR Rashard Higgins. It says a lot about the state of the receiving unit one only one is in the top 3 performing receivers.
All in all, this was a much better performance from the Cleveland Browns offence and, although they lost, they finally showed signs of improvement. If they continue to play like that (or better) they might not end up with a winless season in 2017.