By: Shane Mink
As promised, Shane sent me yet another contribution as he continues with his position-by-position breakdown of the Cleveland Browns. This week, he drops a bit of knowledge on the Browns RB situation which Cleveland put a lot of effort into addressing this offseason. Hope you all enjoy!
The Browns running game was atrocious last year…. There’s no getting around that. At the start of the season, former first round pick Trent Richardson was the starter at RB and Chris Ogbonnaya, a converted RB, started at FB. This lineup lasted a whole two (yes, TWO) weeks. After Richardson’s horrible first two games in Cleveland, former Browns general manager Michael Lombardi, traded him to the Colts for their first round pick of this year draft (which is now the 26th overall). At the time many Browns fans were outraged and thought the season was doomed, but after seeing Richardson’s horrible season in Indianapolis, most have changed their minds as they now feel the trade looks to be very smart on the Browns part.
As for Chris Ogbonnaya, I personally feel he should have never been declared the teams starting fullback. Throughout the course of the season he displayed great abilities as a pass-catcher and consistently gained good chunks of yardage, but blocking, however, is not his strength. The teams second string rookie FB/TE/Wildcat QB MarQueis Gray, filled Ogbonnaya’s job admirably in his absence due to injuries . I fully expect to see him playing an H-back role next year, as well as occasionally playing in the backfield.
After Richardson was traded, the Browns signed former Broncos RB Willis McGahee. Ultimately, he was slowed by age and finished the season with 138 carries for 377 yards and 2 TDs. That’s a 2.7 yards per carry ratio. The only two players with a worse average were Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce of the Baltimore Ravens. In the end, McGahee finished the season with an average of 31.4 yards per game.
The Browns signed several RBs and released several over the season such as Bobby Rainey, who later had success in Tampa Bay, and Dennis Johnson who joined the Houston Texans. None of them had as big of an impact as Edwin Baker however, who was signed off of the Broncos’ practice squad. Even though he never eclipsed more than 100 yards rushing in a game, he provided a spark that made a noticeable impact in the last three games of the season.
Fourteen Browns players attempted various runs last season that totaled 1,383 yards in all. Of that fourteen, eight of them played at positions other than RB. Jason Campbell, Josh Gordon, Travis Benjamin, Brandon Weeden, MarQueis Gray, Josh Aubrey, Brian Hoyer, and Armanti Edwards all attempted at least one run in 2013. Of those players, Travis Benjamin ended the season with the longest Browns run, which was 45 yards.
As a team, the Browns ended the season with a total of 348 attempts of those 1,383 yards. That equals 4 yards per carry which was greatly skewed by Travis Benjamin’s run, as well as Josh Aubrey’s (34 yard run) just to name a few. The Browns had 9 runs of over 20 yards and only 4 touchdowns. Those 4 touchdowns were all scored by two players. Two from Willis McGahee and two from Edwin Baker. As a whole, the Browns finished the season with a 86.4 yard per game average.
This offseason the Browns signed two players that will almost certainly impact the running game in former Texans RB Ben Tate and former Bengals FB Chris Pressley. Tate, rushed for 771 yards and 181 carries while playing in all but 2 games for Houston. What’s amazing about those numbers is he did it while playing with broken ribs for the most part. Considering his toughness, and the fact that he ran for more than half the total yards that the Cleveland Browns did as a whole is very encouraging for a run game in need of a jolt. As for the other big signing in FB Chris Pressley, he has a reputation for making big hits and paving some nice running lanes. When looking at his measurables (5-11, 260 lbs) it’s easy to see why he’d have such a reputation.
The Browns will most likely target a RB at some point in this upcoming draft. Good players can be found at all levels. Players like Bishop Sankey and Carlos Hyde would both be good early round options, while players like Charles Sims and Terrance West would be interesting mid round options. Lastly, players like Jerome Smith and David Fluellen strike me as potential late round pickups. When looking for potential RBs for this team, there are certain traits Cleveland will look for in their new scheme. Those traits are good vision and the ability to hit the whole with authority, much like Alfred Morris of the Washington Redskins (I highly recommend that Browns fans look up some tape on him to see what I mean). He embodies the ideal RB that Kyle Shanahan will to move forward with in this offense.
For more statistics on the Browns and their run game, go to websites like Clevelandbrown.com or ESPN.go.com.
Want to learn more about the Browns? Follow @afc2nfc, @mikekrupka, @joshfin, and @brendanleister . I’ve learned a lot from them and I’m sure you can too!
And lastly for those having trouble finding game film on draft prospects? Draftbreakdown.com and their crew do a wonderful job providing us with videos of all the top prospects and some you’ve probably never heard of!
As usual, we appreciate each and every one of our viewers. Also special thanks to Shane. Please feel free to follow him under the Twitter handle of @ShaneMink to give your his thoughts on this post and to interact with him for any sports related matters. Shane will have more Browns and Vikings posts to share with us in the coming days for our viewers so be on the lookout for more.