After a promising performance in Week 1, DeShone Kizer and the Cleveland Browns struggled in their second AFC North matchup.
Despite a loss at home to the Pittsburgh Steelers last week, the Cleveland Browns showed some signs of growth on both sides of the football. DeShone Kizer scored a pair of touchdowns in his debut, and the defense held Pittsburgh’s dangerous offense to just 14 points.
Unfortunately, this week was a different story. Kizer struggled out of the gate and missed time in the second and third quarters dealing with a migraine.
Backup Kevin Hogan led Cleveland to a touchdown on his first drive and later a field goal. Unfortunately, it would be the only two scoring drives for the Browns on the day.
When Kizer was on the field, he was beyond ineffective. He completed less than 50% of his passes, threw three interceptions, and was strip-sacked early in the first quarter.
After his return in the third quarter, he drove his offense all the way inside the Ravens’ five yard-line before throwing an interception in the endzone.
Kizer is still struggling to find any consistent success in this first two weeks. The offensive line isn’t helping him much, but he continues to hold the ball too long in the pocket, trying to create something out of nothing.
When it works, it looks great, but when it doesn’t, you see a Terrell Suggs strip-sack.
On the defensive side of the ball, it wasn’t all bad news. The Browns were able to force two turnovers, with Jason McCourty forcing a fumble and picking off Baltimore’s Joe Flacco. On top of that, McCourty also defended two more pass attempts. There’s little room for debate that he was Cleveland’s MVP on Sunday afternoon.
Although Kizer and the offense as a whole struggled most of the day, a few bright spots did shine through. Rookie TE David Njoku scored his first NFL touchdown, making a terrific catch on a 23-yard pass from Hogan.
There’s only one player that could take away McCourty’s Week 2 MVP award, and that would be Rashard Higgins. Signed from Cleveland’s practice squad on Saturday, Higgins shined with 95 yards on seven receptions and 11 targets, all of which lead the team.
It appears that Higgins has solidified his spot in this offense, especially after another disappointing performance from Kenny Britt (one reception for two yards).
Next week, Cleveland will travel to Indianapolis, IN to take on the 0-2 Colts. This will be a huge game for the Browns and more specifically, their rookie quarterback.
A solid performance should boost the whole team’s confidence, while also preventing them from falling to an abysmal 0-3 start.