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Monday, December 23, 2013
Pass-happy team not completing 60 percent

By Pat McManamon

The Cleveland Browns are a 4-11 team that leads the league in pass attempts.

They are ranked first despite completing fewer than 60 percent -- a benchmark of sorts for good quarterback play. The Browns have one win per 160 passes.

Their 640 pass attempts are six more than Denver’s 634.

Denver is playing with Peyton Manning; the Browns have thrown more passes with Jason Campbell, Brian Hoyer and Brandon Weeden.

Heading into Monday night’s game, five NFL teams have more than 600 passes attempted. The Browns have the worst record, and they are the only team without a clear standout at quarterback (Manning in Denver, Drew Brees in New Orleans, Tom Brady in New England, Matthew Stafford in Detroit).

The Browns also have the lowest completion percentage of the five (55.6 percent).

ESPN Stats & Information conducted a study on teams that throw that often and complete fewer than 60 percent (thanks to Twitter follower John Crotty for the suggestion), something that has happened 13 times since 2001.

Just fewer than half of those 13 (six) came in 2012 and 2013. Houston is one attempt away from 600 this season, which will mean seven of the 14 came in 2012 and 2013.

Only two of those teams that threw that often with below 60 percent completion rate made the playoffs -- the 2012 Colts and the 2008 Eagles.

Only three of them finished .500 or better.

And those teams combined went 76-129-1,  a winning percentage of .369.

If Houston’s numbers are added -- they will get 600 attempts on Sunday -- the record is 78-142-1 (.355).

With one game left it would be a surprise if the Browns do not finish the season with more than 700 passes called. Through 15 games they’ve called 686 (thrown 640 and been sacked 46).

What do these numbers mean?

It shows how completely unreliable the team’s running game has become and how completely indifferent to even trying to run it is. Despite a lack of success, the play calling focus remains pass heavy.

There are many formulas to win. Clearly a team that throws a lot and does not complete a reasonable amount does not win.