Cleveland Browns: What we learned against the Steelers


The 2017 season is here for the Cleveland Browns. Despite the results, key aspects stood out but what were they?

The Cleveland Browns started their 2017-18 campaign with a home loss to their AFC North rival Pittsburgh Steelers, 21-18. With 21-year old rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer getting the nod to start the season for the Browns, there inherently is a newfound hope surrounding the youngest team in the NFL.

On Sunday, they played a competitive football game against a potentially super bowl level team. There were numerous questions about where the Browns were in their development going into today.  Here is what we learned.

Kizer is ready for football on Sundays

The Browns need to find out what they have in Kizer this season. Is he the franchise player that can finally lead them out of quarterback purgatory? Or, will the Browns have to use their multiple first round draft picks in 2018 to address the position again?

More from Factory of Sadness

As for his first real test, Kizer passed, showing us that he belongs on the field and that he has what it takes to be a quarterback in the NFL.

Kizer went 20-30 for 222 yards with a TD and an interception. He ran the ball 5 times for 17 yards and scored the team’s first touchdown on a QB sneak. He posted a rating of 85.7 but was sacked seven times.

Kizer did a terrific job getting the team in and out of the huddle all day including when they changed the pace and went hurry-up. He threw the ball well at times, showing off his arm talent with passes that pushed the Browns’ offense down the field.

Kizer did a terrific job of always keep his eyes down the field as he was able to spread the ball around and put together multiple scoring drives.

Coach Hue Jackson was happy with his young quarterback.

Kizer did miss on a couple key plays. He had WR/RB Duke Johnson Jr. open with a step or two on the linebacker attempting to check him, but he failed to put enough on the pass and overthrew Johnson.

Later, he had newly acquired wide receiver Kasen Williams open when he was released by the corner expecting safety help behind him, but it that late getting there. It wasn’t a bad throw but Williams lost track of his feet inside the Steelers 10 yard-line and caught the ball out-of-bounds. A good throw and Williams is in the end-zone.

For the most part though, he was accurate and showcased his ability to through it all over the field. His ability to stretch the defense out with his arm strength forced the Steelers defense into a number of penalties from their secondary.

He threw his first NFL touchdown pass on a fourth down pass to wide receiver Corey Coleman.

The Incomplete pass can be your friend

Kizer did throw an interception, but the biggest area of improvement has to be the sacks. Seven times was too much. Normally, someone would see that statistic and start talking about how poorly the offensive line was but that wasn’t the case.

Kizer is mobile and moves in the pocket well, but he has to learn when to bail on the play, scramble to get outside of the pocket, and throw the ball away. Multiple sacks occurred after Kizer was pressured but instead of moving outside and throwing it to the sideline, he attempted to move within the pocket to by more time to throw.

He took way too many hits today — some of which were scary for Browns fans.

It is okay to give up on the play and get out of there, especially when it’s going to save you yardage and some unneeded physical punishment.

The D is for real

The Browns’ defense only gave up 14 points in what should be considered an excellent performance considering the weapons they were faced up against.

Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams deployed a solid game-plan that tested Ben Roethlisberger’s patience. He had at least one safety 25-yards deep while the other 10 players played close to the line-of-scrimmage. Thus, showing the Steelers different looks and forcing Roethlisberger to settle for short, check-down type passes.

The Browns stymied the Steelers run game, holding them to just 35 yards on 17 attempts. It appeared as though the Browns were going to hold Pittsburgh without a offensive touchdown in the first half as they had them pinned down in their own end with the half running out.

A tipped pass by linebacker Joe Schobert landed in wide receiver Antonio Brown’s hands and he scampered across midfield into the Browns territory.

The play got Brown going and he ended up with 11 catches and 182 yards for the game.

Overall, the Browns’ defense was very good though, with no help from the officials. In a pivotal play of the game, cornerback Jamar Taylor was called for pass interference as he ran side-by-side with Brown towards a ball that wasn’t catch-able anyways.

The call proved to be crucial as it kept the Steelers last scoring drive of the game going.


Safety Derrick Kindred was all over the field on Sunday, including a huge interception that kept the Browns within striking distance and set-up the offense for their late scoring drive, which cut the deficit to three.

He was excellent in coverage, breaking up a big third down pass play to get his defense off the field. Even more impressive was his run support. Kindred has big hit potential and seemed to sniff out anything the Steelers tried.

Next: Browns' bakcup QB situation isn't ideal

KIndred is in his second season with the Browns and he is showing that he belongs back there with Jabrill Peppers. We are learning that Peppers and Kindred could make for a nice safety pairing in Williams’ defense.