Cleveland Browns: What was learned in their Week 4 blowout loss?

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 01: Duke Johnson
CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 01: Duke Johnson /

With a blowout loss to the division rival Bengals, the Cleveland Browns drop to 0-4 in embarrassing fashion.

In what was likely the Cleveland Browns‘ best chance to win so far this season, they were absolutely dominated at home by the Cincinnati Bengals. Both the offense and defense faltered from the very beginnings and struggled to recover, leading to a disgusting 31-7 loss.

What can the team learn after the loss?

DeShone Kizer is not improving

It was a pretty rough day for the rookie DeShone Kizer, once again completing under 50% of his passes. With his 16/34 performance, he threw for a season-low 118 yards, good for a meager 3.5 yards per attempt.

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One bright side is that he was only sacked once. Over the last three weeks, Kizer has been sacked just four times after taking seven in Week 1 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Kizer also threw just one interception after a combined six against the Baltimore Ravens and Indianapolis Colts in Weeks 2 and 3. His second quarter interception wasn’t his fault in the slightest, but we’ll address that later.

Overall, the rookie continues to make rookie mistakes. Kizer often spends too much time waiting for the play to develop. He wasn’t all that effective scrambling either, picking up just 10 yards on five attempts.

When he did throw, it wasn’t pretty. The Notre Dame product was overthrowing receivers for a good portion of the day and overall just simply wasn’t consistent.

When the Browns finally scored their first (and only) touchdown, it was on a drive lead by Kevin Hogan rather than Kizer.

Yet another favorable matchup will await Kizer next week against the New York Jets. At this point, he has to find some improvement or consistency. Otherwise, head coach Hue Jackson may be put in a tough spot regarding his quarterback situation.

Kenny Britt is still disappointing

Kenny Britt caught just three of his eight targets for 52 yards Sunday. However, his concrete hands cost the Browns, and Kizer, an interception.

There is literally no reason to drop this pass. It was arguably Kizer’s best throw on the day and instead Britt let it bounce directly in to the defender’s hands.

At this point, Britt is probably more of a burden to this team than anything else. He hasn’t been anywhere near productive, and he’s taking away targets from young, developmental players, such as Ricardo Louis and Rashard Higgins.

Cleveland’s backfield is still a mystery

There was almost no run game for the Browns in their Week 4 loss to the Bengals. As a team, they ran for just 17 times for 45 yards, the fewest on the season. On the year, Cleveland is averaging just 76.5 rushing yards per game through four weeks.

Isaiah Crowell lead the team with just seven attempts for 20 yards and added one reception for seven yards. On the other hand, Duke Johnson Jr. had a pretty solid outing, collecting nine catches for 47 yards despite totaling just 13 rushing yards.

Clearly, no one has solidified themselves as the main back, though Johnson is clearly the more dependable option on passing downs. Crowell and the offensive line have a lot of work to do to turn this awful start around.

Cleveland’s defense, specifically the secondary, has plenty of work left to do

Just one week after getting smoked by Colts’ Jacoby Brissett, the Browns’ defense got completely shredded by none other than Andy Dalton. Dalton had his way all afternoon Sunday, throwing for four touchdowns and 286 yards, all while completing a ridiculous 25/30 passes.

After somewhat promising showings against Pittsburgh and Baltimore, Cleveland’s defense has seemingly disappeared over the last two weeks. They’ve given up exactly 31 points in consecutive weeks to the Colts and Bengals.

They were able to keep the rushing game controlled, though, holding their opponents to just 86 rushing yards on 30 carries.

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For the third straight week, the Browns will have a relatively winnable game next week in a matchup against the Jets. The defense will need to lock down on New York’s subpar offense if they want a chance to win.