The Cleveland Browns have mastered the art of methodically driving down the field and eating up the time of possession. Normally, the hoarding of the games “time of possession” is a good thing–it is widely known that the team that wins the time of possession battle usually wins the game. Unfortunately, the Cleveland Browns don’t deal in normalities, and that’s why the longevity of their drives have Browns fans‘ kicking holes through their T.V.’s as opposed to gushing with joy.
Welcome to the slowest show on turf.
It would be too easy for me to criticize the Browns offensive drives because they more often than not end in a punt or a field goal, so that’s why I’m not going to. It turns out that the Browns offensive possessions have far bigger issues for me to lash out on.
The most troubling part of the Browns offense is that they constantly move at a “first quarter/first drive of the game” type of pace. It turns out that this methodic movement of the ball causes a few problems: One, it makes it impossible to overcome a rather large fourth quarter deficit, and two, whenever they don’t score, the fans are overcome with that typical “That’s ten minutes of my life I will never get back” feeling. No really, there is a depressing difference between the Browns and the other 31 teams when they have a drive that results in anything less than a touchdown. For the Browns, it takes their offense so long to drive up the field that you lose track of time and before you know it an entire quarter has passed.
Watching the Browns offense doesn’t just make Browns fans mad, it proves to be emotionally taxing. I mean, what part of–watching your team run six minutes off the clock as they march fifty yards downfield only to have it end in a punt or a kick–bot seem taxing? Wait, let me rephrase that: What part of the Browns doing that seven times a game, doesn’t seem taxing?
A friend of mine deemed the Browns offensive philosophy as “The West Coast Water Torture,” and that just about sums it up. The term was coined because of the Browns inability to make big plays which has resulted in their splurging on the four yard out route. At frequent times, the Browns offense looks like one of those pee-wee teams that play on the field during halftime of games. Both feast on short, quick routes that offer little risk and (if executed properly) offer short yardage on second and third down. The entire reason the pee-wee team has this offensive approach is because an eight year old quarterback can’t throw the ball further than ten yards. The reason the Browns have this approach is because… well, never mind, Colt McCoy has taken enough criticism, he doesn’t need anymore.
Earlier in the season the fans didn’t give much thought to the risk management ways of Pat Shurmur’s version of the west coast offense. But after a couple of games, rather, after a couple of losses… the act got old. Really old. What the Browns offense is doing is truly historical. I’ve been exposed to some bad offenses in my life, but these 2011 Browns might take the prize. They’re not even so much bad as they are, well, infuriating. They’re like “The Fourth Kind” of NFL offenses, you can’t even describe in words what it feels like to watch them.
The Browns rank dead last in yards per play, second to last in yards per pass attempt, and third to last in yards per rushing attempt. After you are done admiring that offensive ineptitude, try and fathom how, again, the Browns hold claim to a 3-3 record? It’s quite hard to make sense of it all, really. Something just doesn’t add up. How is this team not 0-6, or 1-5? Every other team that ranks in that similar range of offensive deficiencies is already establishing their poll position for Andrew Luck. The Browns are closer to making the playoffs than they are at getting the number one pick and that’s hard to believe.
The Browns have the 23rd overall ranked offense and are second in the league in plays from scrimmage per game. It’s never a good thing when those two categories of stats deviate like that. Here’s another stat for you: The Browns lead the league in third down attempts per game, and they lead it by a pretty hefty amount. The good news is that they have a solid .422 third down conversion rate.These stats alone tell you everything you need to know about the Browns offense and why it’s so hard to watch.
Regardless of the situation, the score, the defense, the weather or the turf, this Browns offense never gets flustered, for they always stay the same. They keep on chugging along with 5-7 yard slants and 2-3 yard dink and dunks. When an offense runs an average of 72 plays per game and averages 4.8 yards per play, your sanity as a fan, as you once knew it, disappears. Sunday against the Seahawks the Browns had the ball for 42:56. They also faced 24 third down situations–that’s the most a team has had in a game in the last twenty years–and all of it equated to a 6-3 Browns victory. A couple weeks ago against Tennessee the Browns had a 37:00 to 23:00 ‘time of possession” advantage and an 87 to 50 “plays called” advantage. They lost to the Titans that day 31-13.
Being how the NFL has become so pass driven, it isn’t healthy, nor is it fair to have to watch an offense perform in the fashion the Browns are. At this point the only thing that could change things would be Peyton Hillis, but that’s a story reserved for another day.