The Browns like to fling the ball around. They rank fifth in the league in pass attempts per game. The Browns have called passes on 65 percent of their offensive plays. This is not exactly the kind of balance coaches seek, but it’s also the result of not having a top-notch back. The numbers are that skewed even though the Browns ran 32 times in the win over Buffalo.
The top six teams in terms of pass play percentage (numbers heading into Thursday’s game) are the Giants, Steelers, Falcons, Dolphins, Rams and Browns. The best record among those six is 3-2, held by the Dolphins and Browns. Two of the teams are winless, and they have the two highest percentage of pass plays called in the league. The combined record of the top six: 9-21.
The Browns are averaging 42.2 passes per game, and threw the ball 55 times against Minnesota. “We don’t want to throw 50 times,” offensive coordinator Norv Turner said. Which was why he was happy to see McGahee carry the ball 26 times against Buffalo. McGahee gained 72 tough yards, which Turner said helped the offensive line because he kept plowing forward for three or four yards. “If we get 25 carries, 30 carries a game, I think that makes it a lot easier for the offensive line up front and the quarterback,” Turner said.
Turner said the most important number for the offense the past two games is zero, as in zero turnovers. Brandon Weeden has thrown 99 consecutive passes without an interception, and the Browns are holding on to the ball. The significance? Since 1950, the Browns had 111 games when they had zero turnovers -- they won 82, a won-lost percentage of .739. In the dismal seasons since 1999, the Browns have 34 zero-turnover games. Their record in those games: 21-13 (.618). Since 1999, the Browns have an overall won-lost record of 76-153 (.332). Clearly not turning the ball over matters.
The Browns wanted to improve their pass rush this season. So far, so good. They are ranked third in the NFL (tied with Buffalo) with 18 sacks.
The Browns are averaging 3.5 yards per rush, which is the same figure Trent Richardson averaged when he was traded.
At least the Browns are gaining more yards than they give up on the ground. The defense is holding teams to 3.3 yards per carry, a full yard lower than a year ag.
This number comes from Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton: The Lions have 11 players who have plays of 20 yards or more. Horton called that figure “remarkable.” The Browns have seven players with gains of 20-plus yards.