CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – DeShone Kizer and Spencer Drango’s performances Sunday in London have earned them the right to maintain their starting jobs – for now.
Kizer completed 18 of 34 passes for 179 yards and did not commit a turnover for the first time this season while Drango played well in place of Joe Thomas at left tackle keeping Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen at bay for most of the afternoon.
“DeShone has earned that opportunity to walk back out there again,” head coach Hue Jackson said. “He did some good things [against the Vikings]. That was a better version of DeShone, and we need to grow from that and keep getting better.”
It marked the first time since Week 3 at Indianapolis that Kizer played as full 4 quarters. He was taken out against Cincinnati with 6:30 left and the Browns trailing 31-0, benched at halftime against the New York Jets, was replaced as the starter in Houston by Kevin Hogan and then benched again against Tennessee after throwing interceptions on back-to-back series to end the first half and start the second.
“He played better in this game as far as taking care of the football,” Jackson said. “There are still some plays that I am sure he wishes he had back, but I thought he did some good things. He put the team in a position early in the first half to have the lead that we had. We just have to find a way to finish it, too, in the second half. You have to make those same plays in the second half that you made in the first half, but I thought he did a great job of taking care of the football and being very team-protecting that way.”
Drango did well keeping Griffen in check. It took until late in the fourth quarter for Griffen to record a sack of Kizer after he entered the game ranked third in the NFL with 9 of them.
“Spencer did a great job. He battled and battled hard,” Jackson said. “We did make some adjustments. We did some chipping, some slamming over there to that side. We did some things left-handed a little bit. We did what we needed to do to help just like we would on any player on our team.”
Kizer was sacked 3 times by the Vikings, which Jackson blamed on the rookie still holding onto the ball too long rather than protection up front.
“Our quarterbacks have to continue to grow in how to get the ball out,” Jackson said.
Deadline Dealing? – Of the major sports, the NFL’s trade deadline is the most anticlimactic with few deals getting done regularly, but that doesn’t mean the Browns won’t try.
“I think we are always looking to do that,” Jackson said. “As you know, we did that a year ago. I am sure we are working hard to do that now. I think we will do anything we can that is the right fit for us to upgrade our football team. There is no question about that.”
The deadline passes at 4 p.m. eastern Tuesday.
Last year, also on Halloween, the Browns acquired linebacker Jamie Collins from the Patriots to help shore up a struggling defense at the time. This year’s primary concern is receiver and it stands to reason that executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown will look to address it before the 4 p.m. eastern deadline.
Give Him The Boot? – Brown may also have to find a new kicker over the next week.
Zane Gonzalez missed a PAT and a 34-yard field goal against the Vikings in London.
“Those are points that we need,” Jackson said. “I think we all recognize that. We don’t want to be on a rollercoaster. Those things happen. We do get it. We have worked through a little bit of that just recently with him. He was able to bounce back. Now, we are going back the other way.
“Now, we have to either try to get it back or we have to do something different. That is just the way this goes. We will make that decision as we go throughout the week.”
Gonzalez has made 7 of 11 attempts hitting from 24, 38, 41, 31, 47, 54 and 23 while missing wide left from 48, 52, 39 and 34. Gonzalez is 12 of 13 on PATs this season.
Catch Me, If You Can – Dropped passes have been a common theme this season for the Browns and they reared their ugly head again against the Vikings. Tight end David Njoku was targeted a team-high 7 times but only caught 2 of them for 19 yards which Jackson admitted was frustrating considering he’d like to expand Njoku’s role.
“I think there are more snaps for him coming. In order to walk out there, you can’t just drop passes. You have to catch the ball,” Jackson said. “We tried to get him the ball several different times [Sunday]. It just didn’t work out. We have to continue to do that because I think he is one of the young guys who can make some plays for us.
“As we move over these next eight weeks, we will find different things for him to do and give him a chance to be out there more.”
Injury Updates – Myles Garrett continues to progress through the NFL’s concussion protocol. “I think we are on the back end of that, hopefully,” Jackson said. “There are different processes that they have to go through, but I think we are getting close to the end of that.”
Cornerback Briean Boddy-Calhoun could “miss some time” because of a hamstring injury suffered against Minnesota and they are “are closer to having him back than not having him back” regarding cornerback Jason McCourty, who has missed the last 2 games due to an ankle injury.
Jackson also said that receiver Corey Coleman “is making really good progress” and “we should have him practicing soon.” Coleman was placed on injured reserve after breaking another bone in his right hand on Sept. 19 and is eligible to play again Nov. 19 against Jacksonville.