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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Kizer’s only chance against the Vikings: Yards after catch

By Matthew Coller

Following a long-established tradition in Cleveland, quarterback DeShone Kizer has had a miserable rookie season.

The Browns’ second-round pick was thrown into the fire after winning the starting job in training camp and preseason. His opening game showed promise. Cleveland lost 21-18 to Pittsburgh in Week 1 and the rookie QB went 20-for-30 with 222 yards, one touchdown, one interception.

Since then he’s thrown two touchdowns, 10 interceptions and has a 49.0% completion percentage and 40.2 rating.

Last week against the Titans, Kizer was pulled after going 12-for-20 with two interceptions against the Tennessee Titans.

Despite posting his first completion percentage over 50% since Week 1, Kizer was wildly inaccurate when trying to work the ball down field. His first interception came on a ball thrown 20 yards down the field to a wide open receiver. Kizer overshot the pass by so much that Dwight Howard in his prime wouldn’t have been able to nab it.

The Browns and Kizer were able to move the ball on the Titans with some success on short passes.

On throws qualified as “short” by NFL official play-by-play, Kizer went 11-for-18 for 95 yards with eight first downs. Six of the seven short incompletions came on third down.

By no means is 5.3 yards per attempt successful or impressive, but the Browns were able to move the ball into Titans territory several times using plays like the one below. Hue Jackson dials up a four-verticals concept with all four receivers going deep to spread out the field, then running back Isaiah Crowell runs short pattern underneath, leaving him with space to play a move 1-on-1 with the linebacker for a 13-yard gain.

Here’s the play design:

Here’s how it turned out:

Kizer’s numbers have been bad no matter where he throws the ball, but his worst moments have come on intermediate throws that require being able to read the defense and anticipate openings.

On passes between 11-20 yards, Kizer is 13-for-41 with one touchdown, five interceptions and a 20.6 rating. Over 20 yards, he’s just 5-for-21 with the longest being a 38-yard completion.

On throws between 1-10 yards, he’s been mildly effective, averaging 8.7 yards per completion and registering a 70.0 rating.

The Browns’ two running backs are dangerous. Crowell and Duke Johnson have combined for 45 catches on 62 targets for 422 yards.

Against a Vikings pass rush that has been outrageously good over the first seven games of the season, Kizer’s only shot at success is to hope for Crowell and Johnson to pull off some magic on short throws – especially with Joe Thomas out and Everson Griffen playing as well as any defensive end in the NFL.

The problem with the dump-off strategy is that Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr have pinned down a number of quality pass-catching running backs. Alvin Kamara, Le’Veon Bell and Theo Reddick, for example, hardly put a dent in the Vikings’ defense. Football Outsiders’ advanced yardage stat DVOA ranks the Vikings 10th best in the NFL in the pass game against running backs.

Funny thing about the Browns giving the starting job to Kizer instead of letting him develop is that last year’s starter Cody Kessler flashed some potential. He had a 120.9 rating on intermediate routes. Yet the Browns only turned to him last week when Kizer struggled.

It’s very possible we see Kessler on Sunday if the Browns can’t get their short passing game going.

The post Kizer’s only chance against the Vikings: Yards after catch appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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