Browns Report: Overcoming Some Cardiac Cats

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Nov 22, 2011



By Adam Dobrowolski
Cold, Hard Football Facts Shutdown Beat Writer


Surprise, surprise! Defense led the way yesterday in Cleveland, which was very much expected. However, there was at least some legitimate drama at the end of the game. With three seconds left, the Browns defended a one-yard pass attempt from Blaine Gabbert to Mike Thomas to seal a 14-10 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

It wasn't pretty, but 4-6 will do for the Browns.

Now, to the five lessons:

1. Don't gasp, but Chris Ogbonnaya may be turning into an asset in the run game.
While Peyton Hillis became the fan favorite last year and Monterio Hardesty was drafted in the second round in 2010, it's Ogbonnaya who's done the best so far for the Browns.

After a downright awful in his first start against Houston (13 carries, 28 yards, 2.15 RYPA), Ogbonnaya looks much better in his last two games. Last week, he ran for 90 yards and averaged 4.74 yards per attempt against St. Louis. Yesterday, against the 9th-ranked Defensive Hogs, Ogbonnaya provided the Browns with their first 100-yard rushing game of the season. Ogbonnaya totaled 115 yards on 21 carries, good for 5.48 yards per carry.

While he might not be a dangerous back, he's playing good enough to move the offense with success. Considering the underwhleming offense in Cleveland, this might be the best this team can do until the offseason.

2. Colt McCoy is uninspiring at this point, but at least he's consistent.
His numbers yesterday won't win much praise. He completed 17 of 24 passes (70.8%) for 199 yards (8.29 YPA), one touchdown and one interception (92.2 passer rating). He didn't carry the team, but he certainly didn't cost his team a victory.

This performance fits the theme for McCoy's 2011 season. Excluding the 6-3 win against Seattle, McCoy's passer rating is between 70.0 and 97.5 in every game. He has zero games with multiple interceptions. Meanwhile, he hasn't thrown more than two touchdowns in any game.

Note that 34 of the 44 starting quarterbacks this year have a multi-interception game. Add in relievers Mike Kafka and Jon Kitna, and there's 36 quarterbacks in total who did that. Overall, only three teams haven't thrown multiple interceptions in all 10 games: the Browns, Rams and 49ers. On the other side, only three quarterbacks have started all 10 games so far without at least a three-touchdown game: McCoy, Jay Cutler and Josh Freeman.

With the entire Browns offense horrifically mediocre, it may be a challenge for the Browns to completely write off McCoy. However, he needs to show he can be dominant in one of the final six games of the season.

3. The pass defense continued its tricks with another strong performance.
As expected, the Browns were going to play well against the pass. The Browns came into the game ranked seventh in Defensive Real Passing Yards per Attempt, while the Jaguars entered Week 11 ranked dead last in Real Passing Yards per Attempt. Cleveland lived up to the matchup by allowing 195 net passing yards on 42 dropbacks (4.64 RPYPA).

Only seven of Gabbert's 22 completions went for at least 10 yards, which is unacceptable on Jacksonville's front. However, that proves that the Browns can still down the passing game at key stretches. In Jacksonville's final drive, Gabbert completed only 5 of 11 passes, with only one completion of at least 10 yards. The finish capped the ultimate bend-but-don't-break defensive drive of the season.

4. Outside MJD, this game lacked star power.
Seriously, look at NFL.com's Gamebook for this game. As you'll see the starting lineups, you'll know all the D-list football celebrities. That certainly makes for a great argument as to why the Jaguars shouldn't move to Los Angeles.

5. The Browns have an ever-so-slight chance to make the postseason. Seriously.
Perhaps this lunacy would be more understandable if Ryan Pontbriand didn't screw the snap for the go-ahead field goal last week. If the Browns win 15-13 last week instead of lose 13-12, they would be 5-5 and tied for the best record in the AFC among non-playoff teams.

Look, any talk about the Browns making playoffs is quite far-fetched. However, it IS possible... as in the chances of making the playoffs are better than the fraction of a percent. Cleveland is only two games behind Cincinnati and three games behind Pittsburgh with five divisional games left to play. Outside of that, Cleveland's only other game is Week 15 showdown in Arizona.

Clearly, the Browns are (by far) the worst team in the AFC North. However, they at least get the opportunity to reverse those fortunes within the division. Win those five remaining divisional games, and here's the standings with no other games considered: Cleveland 9-6, Baltimore 7-5, Pittsburgh 7-5, Cincinnati 6-5. Yes, it's lunacy, and there's no chance we legitimately believe the Browns will win out against the AFC North. However, they still need to play those games, so the chances of it actually happening are at least greater than zero.

Starting with next week's game in Cincinnati, the lunacy could begin.

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