In Part 1 of our film review on the Browns’ offense under QB DeShone Kizer against the Titans, we looked at some of the positive plays he had to begin the game. There are a couple more good plays in Part 2, before we end with absolutely horror in the spirit of Halloween.
Play 6 - The Gates Open for Crowell
This play was memorable at the stadium because I was sitting in the end zone mezzanine behind the play. As soon as the snap happened, I saw that humongous hole form right up the middle. I thought we were handing it off, and when it was a fake, I went “arghh!” Fortunately, QB DeShone Kizer recognized that RB Isaiah Crowell was open and still dumped the ball off to him for a 15-yard gain.
This was Cleveland’s first play after forcing a Tennessee fumble in the second quarter. Pre-snap, they had motioned RB Duke Johnson to the left from a split back set, joining WR Kenny Britt wide left. WR Ricardo Louis is wide right, and you can see TE David Njoku fading up the field from the tight end spot. Tennessee’s linebackers each drop back to cover the seam routes, but the linebacker on the left should’ve stayed with Crowell.
Play 7 - The Fade to Njoku Thrown a Tick Early
A few plays later, the Browns faced a 3rd-and-12 from the 13 yard line (so basically, a 3rd-and-goal). Not seen is the Browns having three receivers spread to the left. They all go up to potentially block their defenders, while RB Duke Johnson slips out for a possible screen. As soon as I saw this formation in the stadium and the fact that TE David Njoku was lined up wide right one-on-one with no safety help, I said to my brother, “We’re doing the fade to Njoku here.”
It was a good decision by QB DeShone Kizer, and on one hand, I want to continue praising him for getting rid of the ball quickly. But on this particular play, he got rid of it just a tick too early, not allowing Njoku to get to his spot. I’m talking about something as small as 0.25 seconds too quick. Otherwise, this could’ve been a touchdown. But at least it wasn’t a turnover, allowing the Browns to tie the game at 3-3.
Play 8 - Evading Pressure and Hitting DeValve
With 1:40 left in the first half, the Titans took a 6-3 lead. Cleveland went to work in the two-minute drill, and got a big 19-yard completion to WR Bryce Treggs on third down to get near midfield. An 11-yard completion to RB Duke Johnson got the team closer.
Then, on 2nd-and-15 from the 50, QB DeShone Kizer stepped up in the pocket with pressure collapsing in on him and found TE Seth DeValve beating his defender in a man-to-man crossing route from right to left. This is what has killed me so much about this season — our running backs and tight ends can win these match-ups against linebackers, and they proved it in this game. Kizer delivers an accurate pass, allowing DeValve does the rest of the work.
Play 9 - Late & High Throw to Higgins is Intercepted
And this is where things suddenly went south. The Browns faced a 1st-and-10, but it’s worth taking into account that only 0:30 were left in the half and Cleveland was out of timeouts. WR Kenny Britt is wide left, running a deep in cutting route. WR Ricardo Louis is wide right running a go route.
WR Rashard Higgins is in the slot and is the man who gets open, beating his man inside. With the defender having trailing coverage, QB DeShone Kizer needs to anticipate hitting Higgins on a bullet right out of his break. Instead, he lofts the ball in his area and sails it way over his head to be picked by S Kevin Byard.
Below is another perspective of the play, and this is basically the angle I saw things from at the stadium. As soon as Kizer let the pass go, I screamed “no!” to myself because I didn’t understand why the ball was lofted in that direction instead of bulleted. The Browns entered halftime with a 6-3 deficit.
Play 10 - Kizer Gets Picked Again
The Browns got the ball first to open the second half, and a third down penalty on the Titans gave Cleveland a fresh set of downs. WR Bryce Treggs is wide left, running a crossing route off of the playaction. Either he or TE David Njoku (faking a block and leaking out) are probably the top options for QB DeShone Kizer. Treggs comes wide open, and S Kevin Byard is hovering toward Njoku.
Kizer has some pressure coming at him after the rollout, and the problem is that when he sees Byard covering Njoku, he locks in on Treggs. He also feels like he has time to run away from the rusher so he can better step in to his throw. The problem is that this “luxury” time allows Byard to make a heads up play — he comes off of Njoku and undercuts Kizer’s pass to Treggs, much to his surprise.
This is a great play by Byard, but Kizer could’ve done one of a few things better — either get the throw out quickly, despite the pressure, or pump fake Njoku before unleashing the pass. Hue Jackson had seen enough after this and pulled Kizer in favor of QB Cody Kessler, but we’ll be back to Kizer to kick off London.
We saw a lot of good gameplanning from the Browns to leverage the weapons they do have on offense with quick decisions. But with LT Joe Thomas done for the year, the team is really going to have to keep it simple on offense against Minnesota.