We broke down the first six plays of the interception drive here. The last play we left off with was when DeShone Kizer was sacked on second down, putting Cleveland in a 3rd-and-13 situation. We resume the film breakdown of the drive below.
Drive 4, Play 7 of 11 - 26 yard pass to Britt
Facing a 3rd-and-13, Kenny Britt is lined up wide left and the Bengals are caught in a zone defense. This play brings back good memories of when Josh Gordon was here, because he and Brandon Weeden had this play down pat.
The underneath linebacker dropping back drifts too far toward the sideline, allowing DeShone Kizer to fit the ball to an open area. Britt not only hangs on, but is able to pick up 8 more yards after the catch for a 26 yard gain. This is one of the few throws that Kizer really seems comfortable with when we dial it up for him and the defense is in zone coverage. He doesn’t throw behind the receiver, and the ball comes out so it hits the receiver in stride.
Drive 4, Play 8 of 11 - 14 yard run by Crowell
One play after the Browns’ longest pass of the game (until Kevin Hogan hit Ricardo Louis for 31 yards in the fourth quarter), the Browns got their biggest run of the game.
On 1st-and-10, the Browns double team both of Cincinnati’s defensive tackles, and the read-option forces DE Carlos Dunlap (No. 96) and LB Nick Vigil (No. 59) to focus on DeShone Kizer instead of crashing on Isaiah Crowell on first instinct. Because Cleveland gets a good push on their double teams and LB Vontaze Burfict commits inside (a wrong decision for once), a nice hole forms along the left side for a gain of 14 yards.
Drive 4, Play 9 of 11 - 1 yard run by Kizer
This is a straightforward play to see what went wrong. Joe Thomas crashes inside and the tight end runs out to sell a route before blocking at the second level. DE Jordan Willis is the player who Cleveland leaves unblocked, and the hope is that the read-option will compel him to crash down the line at Isaiah Crowell. Willis maintains his assignment, though, so DeShone Kizer has no where to go.
I am not experienced enough in read-option plays to determine whether Kizer should have done something else here. I’m often of the impression that these are hit-or-miss; sometimes you catch them, sometimes you don’t. The play picks up 1 yard.
Drive 4, Play 10 of 11 - Incomplete pass to DeValve
Facing a 2nd-and-9, the Browns spread the field with five receivers. Kenny Britt is wide left, running a post right to the goal line. Isaiah Crowell is in the slot running underneath him, and two receivers are mirroring those routes on the other side.
Seth DeValve from tight right runs a shallow route to the middle, and then tries to drift toward an open area for DeShone Kizer. This is where Kizer decides to go, but this is one of those combination blame things. The ball appears to hit DeValve in the hands, but Kizer throws it with zero touch from close range. If they had connected, DeValve might have gotten close to a first down with yards after the catch.
The player most open on the play was Britt, though, as he had significant separation upon his break to the inside. If Kizer had recognized it, it’s a touchdown (yes, I know we can’t be sure that Britt would’ve actually caught it).
Drive 4, Play 11 of 11 - Interception
Now facing a 3rd-and-9, Kenny Britt is again wide left with the field spread. This time, it’s Duke Johnson running the underneath route. Overall, the play design is pretty similar to what Cleveland just ran on second down, except the outside receivers are stopping at the sticks.
DeShone Kizer delivered a nice pass and Britt simply dropped it. What makes some of Britt’s drops even worse is that he’s tipping them in the air, allowing the defender to make a play on the ball.
The first several series show that although DeShone Kizer missed some reads, he wasn’t the problem in Cleveland’s offense struggling. Give him a more reliable receiver, and you could argue that the Browns could’ve had 14 or more points on these drives. Instead, they came up empty.