The Cleveland Browns are undefeated through the first three games of the preseason. Yes, you read that correctly. The Browns defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 13-9 in what is considered the dress rehearsal of the preseason.
The Browns scored 10 points in the final 5:14 of the game, led by a five-yard touchdown reception to Jordan Leslie from Kevin Hogan. Cody Parkey also hit a 47-yard field goal.
Kizer shows poise
Since 1999, the Browns have been looking for that franchise quarterback. While DeShone Kizer is not there yet, he is inching closer and closer to that status.
The rookie out of Notre Dame impressed again, even if the stats do not show it, against the Buccaneers last night.
He showed a lot of poise during his playing time. On the first drive he made a couple of throws that really showed off his arm talent. The first throw was to Kenny Britt for a first down on a 3rd & 8. The second throw was the most impressive of the night, a 32-yard strike on 3rd and 4.
During the second drive, the Browns were backed-up into their own endzone. Kizer made a bullet throw to Corey Coleman for a first down again.
The Browns were forced to take a timeout on 3rd & 9 and then Kizer hit another bullet to Coleman for a first down. Kizer and Coleman are developing some much needed chemistry.
Unfortunately as all rookies do, they make mistakes. After a bogus penalty on Coleman, Kizer threw one late over the middle and it was tipped and picked off. He stared down the receiver for too long and that was the downside.
Hue Jackson said after the game, “I thought he (Kizer) did some good things. I know the numbers weren’t like I would like or he would like, but I thought he moved the team and made some plays. I think our surrounding cast has got to continue to help him.”
Can the defense revive the true Dawg Pound?
If there is one thing that describes this Cleveland Browns defense, it is swarming.
There has not been a Browns’ defense since the Browns returned in ’99 that has flown over the football field like this one has. Yes, it is the preseason. However, this defense is on the cusp of something special.
It all starts with the Browns new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. The Browns have had some highly touted defensive coordinators recently, Rob Ryan and Ray Horton to name a couple.
Fans have longed for the days of Clay Matthews, Frank Minnifield and Hanford Dixon. The Browns have a few players that could make their defense feel similar.
Both Derrick Kindred and Jabrill Peppers have shown that they can fly around the football field and lay the hammer down. Kindred, a fourth round pick in 2016, and Peppers, a first rounder this year, will likely be your opening day starters against the Steelers at safety.
The Browns haven’t had a safety that can impose fear into their opponents since Eric Turner. Jabrill Peppers can be that.
When you have a defense that is very active and gets after the quarterback, it can help influence the crowd. Browns fans have longed for the days of the true Dawg Pound to return. Maybe this defense led by Myles Garrett and Peppers can make those days return.
Some polishing is needed
There have been some noticeable things that the Browns need to clean up as they move forward. The most obvious thing is penalties.
In three games the Browns have had 12 penalties for 72 yards, 9 for 70 yards and 14 for 91 yards.
The other aspect of the game they need to clean up is turnovers.
They did not have any in the first game, but they have had four combined in the last two, two fumbles and two interceptions. The fumble by Duke Johnson in last night’s game ended what was a really nice drive by the Browns.
Penalties and turnovers are the Achilles’ heel of young football teams and they can make for a long season.