So far during the 2014 season, the Cleveland Browns have completely flipped the script from a season ago. Last year, the Browns had one of the worst offenses in all of football, but a great defense to make up for it. This year, the Browns are in the top half of the league in total offense, and the defense has struggled, especially against the run. Besides this complete 180 between the last two seasons, this offense has really opened up some eyes so far this season.
Through the first three games for the Browns this season, the offense has generated 24.7 points per game, 362.7 yards/game, and they get about 5.7 yards/play. The Browns rank in the top 15 in the NFL in all three of those categories. The Browns also rank 9th in rushing and 16th in total passing.
One of the reasons for the success this season has been the offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, who was brought to this team from the Washington Redskins. Over the off-season, the Browns brought in Shanahan to revamp the offense and turn the page from the 2013 season. Shanahan brought the zone-blocking run scheme to the Browns, and so far it is paying dividends. As previously mentioned, the Browns rank 9th in the NFL in rushing which is the first time since 2009 that they have ranked in the top ten in the NFL in that category. That is a huge turn around from a year ago when the Browns ranked 27th in the NFL running to football. With the zone blocking run scheme, the Browns have been incredibly successful running the football and that has led to the high efficiency of the play action pass from Hoyer.
It’s not just the offensive scheme that has led to the Browns offensive success, it has also been the offensive personnel. It all starts with the success of the offensive line for the Browns. This season the starting five on the O-line has included Pro Bowlers Joe Thomas and Alex Mack, rookie Joel Bitonio, Mitchell Schwartz, and John Greco. This group of offensive lineman have taken the zone blocking scheme and have made it their own. With their athleticism and size this offensive line has become one of the best in the NFL. Another bright spot has been the emergence of the running back trio of veteran running back Ben Tate, 3rd-round draft pick Terrence West, and undrafted free agent Isaiah Crowell. Those three have been on a tear this season, and have brought excitement to this Cleveland Browns team. After the injury suffered by Ben Tate in week one, no one thought that the two rookies would have a lot of success, but they have been great. As the number one back, West has averaged a healthy 68 yards/game and has scored two touchdowns. Crowell, as the backup, has averaged 47 yards per game, and has scored 3 touchdowns. The O-line and the running backs have a been a huge focal point and strength for this Cleveland Browns team in 2014.
With the success of the running game comes the success of Brian Hoyer and the passing game. This season, Brian Hoyer has been phenomenal for the Cleveland Browns offense. Hoyer has a completion percentage of 64.2 percent, a QBR of 72.1, and a RAT of 97.5. With those stats, Hoyer ranks 12th in QBR and 11th in RAT which is newfound territory for a Cleveland quarterback. When looking at Hoyer’s receivers there is truly not that much there. Andrew Hawkins has been a huge bright spot for the Browns. To this point, the shifty Hawkins has caught 21 passes for 244 yards and leads the team in several receiving categories. Overall, this season the zone blocking scheme and passing game have both been a huge success.
The Cleveland Browns offense has put up pretty good stats so far this season but the two stats that trump the rest are turnovers and turnover differential. This season the Cleveland Browns have had zero turnovers and a turnover differential of +4, which ranked sixth in the NFL.
The Browns offense has been a sight for sore eyes and has really brought excitement and energy to the fan base without even having guys like Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron in the lineup. This offense has been really efficient so far, the only thing that they haven’t done is close out a game for a W. So, hopefully this offensive trend continues and the Browns can find a way to close out and win more football games down the road.