Reviewing the Cleveland Browns 2009 Season

Josh Cribbs (Mike Cardew/Akron Beacon Journal)

With the 7th pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns are the next team in my 2009 NFL Season Reviews. This past year, the Browns started out horribly, costing GM George Kokinis his job, and nearly leading to wholesale change in the front office and coaching staff. New team president Mike Holmgren has decided to keep head coach Eric Mangini on, probably in large part due to the four game winning streak to end the season. After a disastrous 1-11 start, the Browns appeared to improve down the stretch. This post will review Cleveland’s performance with respect to their opponents’ averages for the season in an attempt to show where their strengths and weaknesses lie.

In this post, I will follow the same format as with the other season review posts. The formula is described in this paragraph. First, we will look at the team’s Offensive and Defensive values and ranks for total yards, points, passing and rushing. This will give a general feel for the team’s season. Next, we have a set of tables that compares the team’s points scored and allowed as well as their total yards, and passing and rushing yards, gained and allowed for each game. These values will be compared with the respective opponent’s corresponding averages, with the differences between the team’s value and the opponent’s average calculated. Finally, I included a sum of the differences for the entire season. This should give a good indication of how the team’s various units performed with respect to their opposition as well as which units performed better or worse. (Note: All stats are from Pro-Football-Reference.com)

With that background description, let’s see how the Browns performed this season. First, we’ll look at their raw numbers in terms of offensive and defensive yards and league rankings. 

Team Offense Value Rank   Team Defense Value Rank
Points 245 29   Points 375 21
Yards 4163 32   Yards 6229 31
Cmp 219   Cmp 313
Att 443   Att 526
Pass Yards 2076 32   Pass Yards 3915 29
NY/A 4.4 32   NY/A 6.9 26
Pass TD 11 31   Pass TD 22 14
Pass INTs 18 20   Pass INTs 10 29
Rush Yards 2087 8   Rush Yards 2314 28
Rush TD 10 20   Rush TD 15 19
Y/A 4.2 15   Y/A 4.6 29
Sacks 30 11   Sacks 40 8

Table 1

I guess it should come as no surprise that the Browns’ strengths were in the running game and pass defense. Mangini was the Patriots’ defensive coordinator before becoming the Jets head coach, and he brought that mindset to Cleveland as well. The Browns finished the season 8th in rush offense, 11th in sacks allowed, and 8th in defensive sacks. Unfortunately for them, they could not stop the run very well, ranking 28th in rush defense.

Now that we’ve looked at the general overview, let’s look at the game by game statistical tables. Table 2 contains the Browns’ points scored and allowed in each game next to the opponents’ average defensive points allowed and average offensive points scored. It also shows Cleveland’s points scored minus the opponent’s average points allowed and their  points allowed minus the opponent’s average points scored. For the Diff1 column, a positive number would be good, while for the Diff2 column, a negative number would be good.

 

Clev Pts Opp D
Opp Pts Opp O
Opp Score Avg Pt Diff1 Score Avg Pt Diff2
Minnesota Vikings 20 19.5 0.5 34 29.38 4.63
Denver Broncos 6 20.25 -14.25 27 20.38 6.63
Baltimore Ravens 3 16.31 -13.31 34 24.44 9.56
Cincinnati Bengals 20 18.19 1.81 23 19.06 3.94
Buffalo Bills 6 20.38 -14.38 3 16.13 -13.13
Pittsburgh Steelers 14 20.25 -6.25 27 23 4
Green Bay Packers 3 18.56 -15.56 31 28.81 2.19
Chicago Bears 6 23.44 -17.44 30 20.44 9.56
Baltimore Ravens 0 16.31 -16.31 16 24.44 -8.44
Detroit Lions 37 30.88 6.13 38 16.38 21.63
Cincinnati Bengals 7 18.19 -11.19 16 19.06 -3.06
San Diego Chargers 23 20 3 30 28.38 1.63
Pittsburgh Steelers 13 20.25 -7.25 6 23 -17
Kansas City Chiefs 41 26.5 14.5 34 18.38 15.63
Oakland Raiders 23 23.69 -0.69 9 12.31 -3.31
Jacksonville Jaguars 23 23.75 -0.75 17 18.13 -1.13
Sum Difference     -91.44     33.31

Table 2

According to these numbers, the biggest weakness was in the offense. The defense allowed a cumulative 33 more points than opponents’ averages over the course of the season. But, the offense scored 91 fewer cumulative points than opposing defenses’ points allowed, for a differential roughly 3 times that of the defense. Somewhat surprisingly, Table 3 below tells a somewhat different story. 

 

Clev Yds Opp D
Opp Yds Opp O
Opp Gained Avg Yd Diff1 Gained Avg Yd Diff2
Minnesota Vikings 268 305.5 -37.5 310 379.63 -69.63
Denver Broncos 200 315 -115 449 341.44 107.56
Baltimore Ravens 186 300.5 -114.5 479 351.19 127.81
Cincinnati Bengals 395 301.38 93.63 375 309.13 65.88
Buffalo Bills 193 340.56 -147.56 288 273.88 14.13
Pittsburgh Steelers 197 305.31 -108.31 543 371.31 171.69
Green Bay Packers 139 284.44 -145.44 460 379.06 80.94
Chicago Bears 191 337.75 -146.75 369 310.31 58.69
Baltimore Ravens 160 300.5 -140.5 274 351.19 -77.19
Detroit Lions 439 392.13 46.88 473 299 174
Cincinnati Bengals 169 301.38 -132.38 306 309.13 -3.13
San Diego Chargers 372 326.88 45.13 477 360.06 116.94
Pittsburgh Steelers 255 305.31 -50.31 218 371.31 -153.31
Kansas City Chiefs 417 388.19 28.81 491 303.19 187.81
Oakland Raiders 282 361.94 -79.94 389 266.13 122.88
Jacksonville Jaguars 300 352.31 -52.31 328 336.56 -8.56
Sum Difference     -1056.06     916.5

Table 3

In terms of yards allowed differential, the defense was nearly as bad as the offense. This seems to indicate that the team has more holes than even their 5-11 record shows. In fact, it may only be the outstanding punt and kick returns of the electric Josh Cribbs that kept the Browns from losing more games. With that said, let’s take a look at Table 4 and 5 to break down the yardage differentials by passing and rushing. 

 

Clev P-Yd Opp D
Opp P-Yd Opp O
Opp Gained Avg Pa Diff1 Gained Avg Pa Diff2
Minnesota Vikings 179 218.38 -39.38 85 259.75 -174.75
Denver Broncos 146 186.31 -40.31 263 226.69 36.31
Baltimore Ravens 115 207.25 -92.25 337 213.69 123.31
Cincinnati Bengals 249 203.06 45.94 221 180.63 40.38
Buffalo Bills 22 184.25 -162.25 143 157.19 -14.19
Pittsburgh Steelers 106 215.44 -109.44 403 259.25 143.75
Green Bay Packers 81 201.13 -120.13 258 261.25 -3.25
Chicago Bears 74 211.38 -137.38 199 217.06 -18.06
Baltimore Ravens 74 207.25 -133.25 146 213.69 -67.69
Detroit Lions 308 265.56 42.44 416 198 218
Cincinnati Bengals 111 203.06 -92.06 96 180.63 -84.63
San Diego Chargers 257 209.25 47.75 386 271.13 114.88
Pittsburgh Steelers 84 215.44 -131.44 141 259.25 -118.25
Kansas City Chiefs 66 231.69 -165.69 323 182.63 140.38
Oakland Raiders 118 206.44 -88.44 301 159.81 141.19
Jacksonville Jaguars 86 235.88 -149.88 197 209.75 -12.75
Sum Difference     -1325.75     464.63

Table 4 


Clev R-Yd Opp D
Opp R-Yd Opp O
Opp Gained Avg Ru Diff1 Gained Avg Ru Diff2
Minnesota Vikings 89 87.13 1.88 225 119.88 105.13
Denver Broncos 54 128.69 -74.69 186 114.75 71.25
Baltimore Ravens 71 93.25 -22.25 142 137.5 4.5
Cincinnati Bengals 146 98.31 47.69 154 128.5 25.5
Buffalo Bills 171 156.31 14.69 145 116.69 28.31
Pittsburgh Steelers 91 89.88 1.13 140 112.06 27.94
Green Bay Packers 58 83.31 -25.31 202 117.81 84.19
Chicago Bears 117 126.38 -9.38 170 93.25 76.75
Baltimore Ravens 86 93.25 -7.25 128 137.5 -9.5
Detroit Lions 131 126.56 4.44 57 101 -44
Cincinnati Bengals 58 98.31 -40.31 210 128.5 81.5
San Diego Chargers 115 117.63 -2.63 91 88.94 2.06
Pittsburgh Steelers 171 89.88 81.13 77 112.06 -35.06
Kansas City Chiefs 351 156.5 194.5 168 120.56 47.44
Oakland Raiders 164 155.5 8.5 88 106.31 -18.31
Jacksonville Jaguars 214 116.44 97.56 131 126.81 4.19
Sum Difference     269.69     451.88

Table 5

Clearly, the biggest weakness on this team last year was in the passing game. I suppose it didn’t help that they traded away Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow. Again, we see that the rushing game was actually a net positive for them, gaining above the cumulative opponents’ defensive averages. Both the rush and pass defenses appeared to have been equally poor.

Based on these numbers, the Browns need the most help in the passing game. From what I have seen so far, I don’t think there is a WR coming out this year with a top 10 grade, so more than likely, Cleveland will go best player available. There is some talk that they may go with a QB at number 7, but it seems like that would be hard to do, considering that they have two QBs on the roster getting starting QB salaries (or close to it). It will be very interesting to see the approach that Holmgren takes with this team.

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