Four games. 103 points.
For the first time since 2007, the Cleveland Browns offense is competent. Don’t expect scoring records to fall, but considering what we’ve seen from 2008-13, just being ordinary is a welcomed reprieve.
It took only four games for the Browns to score 103 points this season. It may not sound like much, but consider: The Browns didn’t reach or surpass 103 points until the eighth game in 2008, 11 games in 2009, seven games in 2010, eight games in 2011 and six games the last two seasons.
The Browns have had a chance to win all four of their games this season not because of excellent play on both sides of the ball for four quarters — we have yet to see that — but because the offense is moving the football and finishing drives with touchdowns.
We can wring our hands about the poor defensive effort, especially in the first half against the Titans last Sunday. There are concerns that need to be addressed. Dumb penalties. Over pursuit. Poor pass rush. It goes on and on. Also, the Browns got lucky this week, but they won’t be facing a Charlie Whitehurst-led offense in the final 12 games.
What they will be able to do is continue to run the ball with Ben Tate, Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell. Tate looked like one of the better backs in the NFL against Tennessee. He was fluid, fast, powerful and seemed to make the right cuts. He clearly is the team’s No. 1 back barring any future injuries, which is a big concern with him.
Finally, imagine how this offense could control a game and score points if they play well for an entire four quarters?
The rules are designed for the offense to score points and have been for years now. Meanwhile, as the rules changed for the offense’s benefit, the Browns offense continued to slog through games scoring mostly field goals or celebrating when surpassing 20 points.
This year there are no “Bronx cheers” because the team converts its first first down late in the second quarter. No, things are actually working on offense.
Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan is keeping things balanced. Last Sunday, the Browns had 37 pass plays and 36 run plays. Even when the team was down 25 points they did not shy away from their bread and butter: the run game.
Yes, those aforementioned rule changes mostly benefit the passing game but the Browns are showing the tried and true method of running to set up the pass works just fine. The Browns are averaging 4.5 yards per carry and have five rushing touchdowns. A healthy and talent-rich offensive line is keying this effort, no doubt, but so is talent at the running back position. Gone are the days of watching Old Man Willis McGahee slog for one-yard carries.
Finally, and most importantly, the Browns are getting solid play from their quarterback. Like it or not, the game is predicated on strong play from the quarterback position and Brian Hoyer is delivering.
The Browns haven’t played a full four quarters of football yet have two wins in four tries. You can argue all four games could’ve went against the Browns, but in the end they are 2-2 and begin preparations for the 3-2 Steelers.
The same Steelers team, mind you, that blew a game late to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, scored just 10 offensive points against the winless Jacksonville Jaguars last Sunday and almost blew a 27-3 halftime lead to these same Browns in the season opener.
Welcome to Steeler Week, where for the first time in a long time the teams are equal, the Browns offense is scoring points and the game means something.