Let’s be honest, there’s not really many positive outlooks you can leave the 2016 season with after the Cleveland Browns just went 1-15. Although they were one of the youngest teams in the league, they were just one blocked field goal away from being the second team in NFL history to be an imperfect 0-16. Heading into the offseason, there are plenty of ways the Browns must improve, whether it’s through the draft or free agency. Outside of left tackle, they can virtually (almost) find improvement at every position. Before we get ahead of ourselves, there may be one other position that the Browns do not need to upgrade: running back.
With the two-headed monster of Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson, along with some others, the 2016 Browns averaged 4.89 yards per carry, which was second in the league and the highest by the team since 1966, when that team averaged 5.2 yards per carry. Who was first in the NFL this season, you ask? The Buffalo Bills, at 5.35 yards per carry.
The @Browns finished 2nd in the NFL with a rush average of 4.89, the highest by the team since 1966
— Dan Murphy (@DMurph_BrownsPR) January 5, 2017
Keep in mind, there was an eight-game stretch where Crowell averaged just 2.51 yards per carry, and they were still able to do that well. That says a lot about how well the group actually played. Even with the offensive line struggling as much as they did, Crowell (198 carries, 952 yards, 4.8 yards per carry) and Johnson (73 carries, 358 yards, 4.9 yards per carry) were able to make plays with their feet.
Just imagine how good the two-headed combo could be if (and when) the Browns get a legitimate offensive line to block for them and a franchise quarterback to hand them the ball.
So, realizing now that the running backs did as well as they did this past season, do you think the Browns should add any running backs this offseason?
Just for fun, here’s a look at some of the top rushers from that 1966 squad:
- Leroy Kelly: 209 carries, 1,141 yards (5.5 yards per carry)
- Ernie Green: 144 carries, 750 yards (5.2)
- Frank Ryan: 36 carries, 156 yards (4.3)