News & Analysis

NFL Week 3 Preview: Browns at Colts

By PFF Analysis Team
Sep 24, 2017

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CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 21: Rashard Higgins #81 of the Cleveland Browns looks on during a preseason game against the New York Giants at FirstEnergy Stadium on August 21, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Each week, the PFF analysis team will bring you break downs of the most important matchups for each game of the NFL season.

Coverage by: David Neumann

Matchup: Cleveland Browns offense vs. Indianapolis Colts defense

  • QB DeShone Kizer vs. the pressure — If this game sticks to the script, Kizer should have plenty of opportunity to make throws from a clean pocket. Indianapolis has generated pressure on opposing quarterbacks on 33.8 percent of dropbacks (19th) so far, including only a pair of quick pressures (those reaching the quarterback in 2.0 seconds or less), tied for the second-fewest. On the other side of the ball, Cleveland’s offensive line currently ranks 10th in pass-blocking efficiency (81.0). The problem has been that Kizer has struggled even when kept clean through two games, completing just 61.4 percent of his passes (27th) and tossing four interceptions (tied for most), good for a 50.9 passer rating that tops only Andy Dalton.

  • WR Rashard Higgins vs. CB Nate Hairston — With Corey Coleman going on IR, leaving an already shaky wide receiver corps down their top player, the Browns are in desperate need of one of their young wide receivers to step up. Last week, that player was Rashard Higgins, who grabbed 7 of 11 targets for 95 yards on his way to earning the 13th-best overall grade for a receiver on the week (78.9). That work came almost exclusively out of the slot (50-of-55 snaps), and Higgins’ 2.39 yards per route run from the slot is the league’s third-best after two weeks. He’ll look to continue that success against the Colts’ Nate Hairston, whose 47.4 overall grade ranks 60th out 96 qualifying cornerbacks.
  • TE David Njoku vs. LB Jon Bostic — Njoku found his way into the end zone last week, but it’s been an otherwise quiet start for the Miami product. He’s been targeted just six times in the first two games, catching five of those for 47 yards. If Hue Jackson can scheme some opportunities against linebacker Jon Bostic, we could see some bigger plays from the rookie tight end this week. Bostic, who has played more coverage snaps than any other Colts linebacker this season (65), has struggled in coverage throughout his career and the first two games have been no exception. He’s given up 110 yards (including 51 after the catch) on seven receptions allowed, and his 1.69 yards allowed per coverage snap ranks 57th of 66 qualifying linebackers.

Coverage by: Mike Alessandrini

Matchup: Indianapolis Colts offense vs. Cleveland Browns defense

  • QB Jacoby Brissett vs. Browns cornerbacks – Brissett started his first game with his new team against Arizona last week. He earned a 78.7 overall grade while throwing accurately on 71.9 percent of his passes. Although he had a low turnover-worthy throw rate (2.2 percent of passes), he struggled against blitzes and pressure. Brissett had a 49.5 passer rating against the blitz (30th among quarterbacks for Week 2), while his 8.7 passer rating facing pressure was lowest at his position. The Colts’ quarterback will face off against Jason McCourty and Jamar Taylor in Cleveland’s secondary. McCourty is having a rebound season with the Browns. He was named to the PFF Week 2 Team of the Week after posting an 87.7 overall grade. He allowed one catch for seven yards on five targets against the Ravens. Taylor gave up four catches for just 27 yards last week on five targets.

  • TE Jack Doyle vs. Browns linebackers – Doyle has been one of the few bright spots for the Colts this season. The tight end leads his team with 10 catches on 11 targets for 120 yards. His 1.88 yards per route is the eighth highest mark among tight ends after Week 2. Doyle will look to continue his strong play against a pair of Cleveland linebackers who have struggled defending tight ends thus far. Joe Schobert allowed both touchdowns to Jesse James in Week 1, while Christian Kirksey allowed all nine of his targets to be caught last week for 63 yards and one touchdown. Four of those catches were against tight ends.
  • T Joe Haeg vs. EDGE Emmanuel Ogbah – inserted at right tackle in place of the injured Denzelle Good, Haeg allowed four total pressures (including one sack) in 44 pass-block snaps. On the other side of the ball, Cleveland’s sophomore edge rusher will look to rebound after two poor efforts to start the year. Ogbah has accumulated just one hurry on 55 pass-rush snaps through two games. This gives him a 1.4 pass-rush productivity grade, ranking last among 4-3 defensive ends. Against a struggling Indianapolis offensive line, this could be the week for the former second round pick to elevate his game.

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