Deciphering numbers of the last five years

January, 10, 2014
Jan 10
9:00
AM ET
Drawing conclusions from numbers in five losing seasons might be a bit silly.

The key number, after all, is 23 -- which is the number of Cleveland Browns wins since 2009. That number speaks volumes, and logically leads to some troubling statistical rankings in those five years.

Delving into trends also might be silly because ... well ... there’s another re-set coming with a new offense and defense and all the fun stuff that goes with it.

But a check of the numbers from the past five season (see below) and some things do become evident:
  • The Browns quarterback play -- based on the Total Quarterback Rating -- has been woeful. The highest they finished was 2011, and that was 23rd in the league. It’s no wonder the team struggles when it struggles at the most important position. This season’s cumulative QBR was the second lowest in the five-year span.
  • The 2013 offense did make strides. The offense had more passing yards, total yards and points per game than at any other time in the past five seasons.
  • Set aside the Peyton Hillis season in 2009 and the run game has simply been a mess. And on a steady decline.
  • Defensively, the 2013 team made a quantum leap in all but two vital categories. The Browns gave up fewer yards and was ranked higher than any time since 2009.
  • Because the Browns passed so much (a league-leading 681 times) they finished with the highest yards per game of the past five years. The 252 yards was an 18 percent increase over 2012 and almost double 2009.
  • The Browns also scored more points this season than in any of the previous four.
  • Defensively there was improvement in total yards, rushing and yards per carry. But even though the yards per carry was below 4 for the first time, the run defense still did not finish in the top half of the league -- something it has not done the past five seasons.

The number that jumps out defensively is third-down defense. Despite constant efforts to fix it, the defense gave up a woeful 44.7 percent on third downs this season, better only than the Falcons.

The other key factor was red zone defense. Teams scored 64 percent of the time, which ties for 29th. Seattle, which many are predicting for the Super Bowl, led the league in red zone efficiency -- which kind of shows its importance.

The third down and red zone are directly responsible for the fact the Browns gave up 25.4 points per game, highest in the five-year “study.”



Pat McManamon

ESPN Cleveland Browns reporter

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