This week’s film study reflecting on the Browns vs. Ravens game from this past week will begin by focusing on each of the team’s five turnovers. I found a nice way to do some annotations at the beginning of GIFs along with some pausing, so hopefully it makes the plays easier for you to follow.
Turnover #1 - Fumble in the 1st Quarter
The Ravens lined rush linebacker Terrell Suggs wide on RT Shon Coleman on this 3rd-and-13 play mid-way through the third quarter. First, you can see that the protection is “good enough” for a play like this when you know defenders are pinning their ears back. By the time Kizer gets sacked, 4.5 seconds have gone by. RB Duke Johnson did a good job picking up the blitz S Tony Jefferson. A sack isn’t the worst thing in the world here; it’s the fumble that really hurts.
Was anybody open? Wide right is Corey Coleman, but he’s covered pretty tightly in man-to-man. Slot left is WR Rashard Higgins running a route over the middle, but a linebacker is dropping into zone coverage underneath that route. Kizer is only looking at Coleman and Higgins on this play.
Once Kizer saw the single high safety commit to the right side of the field, he should’ve aired it out deep to the left side of the field for WR Kenny Britt, who wins at the line of scrimmage and has his man beat. Even if the play is intercepted, it’s a one-on-one situation on third down and could’ve served as a long punt.
Turnover #2 - Interception in 1st Quarter
Facing a 3rd-and-4 in field goal territory with a minute to go in the first quarter and down 7-0, Kizer threw his first interception of the game. On Monday, head coach Hue Jackson talked about when he knew something was wrong with Kizer:
“There was a play that DeShone I think knows extremely well where we send the motion and the motion didn’t happen, and then he ended up looking to a different side so that had not been the way he responded. When he came off and I asked him about it, he wasn’t very clear to me about what it was so then I knew then that something wasn’t happening. He told me, he said, ‘Coach, my head is kind of pounding’ so I knew then that something was not right.”
Kizer confirmed that he forgot to motion a guy on his first interception. It makes sense now — when I saw this play live, I wondered why the snap nearly collided with the motion man; it’s because Kizer never called for the motion, and then WR Rashard Higgins just decided to (correctly) move in motion on his own.
As for the play itself, TE Seth DeValve goes out to the right flat, but this play is all about getting WR Ricardo Louis to cross from left to right, with RB Duke Johnson crossing just underneath him. The hope is that Johnson breaks open on the pick, and that the motion with Higgins would’ve drawn a defender out of the way. Despite the motion miscue, the play still worked and Johnson was open. Now, Eric Weddle may have still stopped him shy of the marker, but Johnson is shifty in those open field situations.
This pass is in close range, so the pass needs to be stuck on the receiver. Johnson has to stick one hand out to try to corral this, and he cannot. The tip goes right into the arms of Weddle for the pick.
Turnover #3 - Interception in 2nd Quarter
This one falls on Kevin Hogan. He’s got WR Sammie Coates wide right in a one-on-one match-up with 0:30 to go and one timeout in the first half. WR Ricardo Louis is wide left, and WR Rashard Higgins is in the slot.
Ideally, the Browns need to get 15-20 yards in 2-3 plays to get into field goal range for K Zane Gonzalez. Maybe Hogan was feeling like Superman with the success he’d had up until this point, but he throws to a triple-covered. Hogan originally didn’t trust the protection from RT Shon Coleman, which is why he bailed from the pocket. Even though Hogan was excellent (compared to Kizer) besides this throw, this was a ridiculous momentum-shifter, as Baltimore went on to score a touchdown to lead 21-7 heading to the half.
Turnover #4 - Interception in 4th Quarter
The Browns were down 24-10 with 12 minutes to go in the game, but faced a 2nd-and-goal here. A touchdown makes this a whole new ball game...and the killer part is that Kizer had WR Rashard Higgins open by NFL standards.
Higgins is in the slot to the left running a quick post route. The safety steps up and vacates the middle of the field, and Higgins beats CB Ladarius Webb to the inside. If Kizer delivers a strike over the middle, it’s a touchdown. Instead, the ball is well behind him, allowing Carr to undercut and intercept the pass. The other players on the route were WR Sammie Coates (wide left, running a shallow slant) and WR Ricardo Louis wide right (running the fade).
Turnover #5 - Interception in 4th Quarter
The final interception comes mid-way through the fourth quarter on a 3rd-and-5 play. WR Rashard Higgins is wide right, running a stop-and-go that he appears to later convert to a slant to try to get open for a scrambling Kizer. Kizer ends up throwing back across the field, which so often leads to interceptions.
Other options included WR Kenny Britt running a shallow crosser and WR Ricardo Louis running a short route that ended up being double teamed. TE David Njoku is running a flag/fade route up the left sideline, and if we’re going to make a desperation throw, I’d again prefer it to be in a one-on-one situation like this against a safety.
It was a bad day for the offense, and we can only hope that Baltimore was just a bad match-up for Kizer to process. The Colts’ defense ranks near the bottom of the league in pass defense through two weeks, but the struggles against Baltimore really boiled down to poor accuracy and decision-making.