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Thursday, October 31, 2013
Midpoint comparison: 2012 and 2013

By Pat McManamon

From Pat Shurmur to Rob Chudzinski, Mike Holmgren to Joe Banner ... the Cleveland Browns are in the midst of a change.

Midway through a season is a fair time to assess the change on the field. According to the numbers, the biggest difference between the Browns of 2013 and the Browns of 2012 is on defense.

One could even say that the Browns have made dramatic improvement defensively (see chart).

Total yards are down 18 percent.

Yards per play are down 17 percent.

And rushing yards, a Browns problem since the millennium, are down 21 percent.

The all-important yards per pass attempt are down 16 percent from a year ago.

The area where the defense has not improved has been on third-down conversions. Opponents are making a first down 46.4 percent of the time on third downs. A year ago, that number was 37.9 percent.

Logic would dictate that the trends simply make sense.

Three years the Browns drafted Phil Taylor and Jabaal Sheard. In the offeseason the free-agent focus was on the defense. And in the draft the focus was on the defense.

Combine that with Ray Horton’s aggressive approach, and the improvement is evident -- and will be more evident once the third-down number improves.

Offensively, well … things remain a struggle. What is interesting, though, is that in 2012 the Browns had Trent Richardson, albeit an injured Trent Richardson.

Richardson was traded earlier this season, but the running game numbers are mainly unchanged.

One other interesting number: The offense's yards-per-pass attempt are down this season even though Shurmur's offense was known for its short crosses and Chudzinski's is known for attacking down the field.