The Browns are Offensive

In the wake of the Browns opening day loss to the Cowboys, most of the reaction has centered on the abysmal performance of the defense.  Indeed, the defense deserves as much criticism as they've received for seeming to be ill-prepared, out-of place, and confused about assignments.  And all of that before you consider the obvious gap in physical ability that matchups with Terrell Owens and Jason Witten usually provide. 

The stark reality of Sunday's defensive performance has inspired calls for the Browns to acquire players such as Roosevelt Colvin and Fernando Bryant.  Last week, we mourned the "lost opportunities" of Deltha O'Neal or Dominique Foxworth.  However, consider the following tables.

Average Offensive Performance - 2007



Total Net Yards (per game)


Fumbles (per game)


Third Down Efficiency

86/204,  42.2 %

Derek Anderson

237 yards, 56.5% completion,

7.2 yards per attempt

Braylon Edwards

5 catches, 80.5 yards, 1.2 drops

Offensive Performance v. Dallas - September 7, 2008



Total Net Yards




Third Down Efficiency

3/9, 33%

Derek Anderson

114 yards, 45.8% completion,

4.8 yards per attempt

Braylon Edwards

2 catches, 14 yards, 4 drops, 2 penalties

With the notable exception of the second drive, the offense was almost non-existent against the Cowboys.  In fact, if you remove the second drive numbers from the overall numbers, you're left with 127 total yards of offense against a team that surrendered an average of 307 yards last year and whose best cornerback was out with an injury.

More than anything, what Browns fans learned on Sunday was that if the Browns intend on being competitive, their offense must lead them.  There are no quick defensive fixes that will suffice to make the team competitive on that side of the ball.  This judgment is supported not only by the Browns 2007 season or this year's first game.  It's supported by the decisions made by the Browns front office over the past 5 years.

Here's why:

Browns Top 10 Cap #'s for 2008

Player (pos.)

Cap Number

Joe Thomas(OL)


Eric Steinbach(OL)


Braylon Edwards(WR)


Jamal Lewis(RB)


Kevin Shaffer(OL)


Ryan Pontbriand(OL)


Kellen Winslow(TE)


Ryan Tucker(OL)


Willie McGinest(LB)




Of the Browns top ten cap numbers for the 2008 season, eight of them belong to offensive players.  This number is likely to increase in the near future, as both Derek Anderson or Brady Quinn are due to receive a sizeable roster bonuses after the 2008 season while Winslow, Edwards, and Josh Cribbs have all made noise about new contracts.

Of the eight offensive players listed above, the Browns drafted three, each with a first round pick, in 2004, 2005, and 2007, respectively.  In addition, the Browns first round pick in 2008 and second round pick in 2007 were both traded to acquire Brady Quinn.

Over the past 5 years, the Browns have invested a disproportionate amount of their resources in their offensive side of the ball.  This not only includes the draft picks and free agent salaries listed above, but also the multi-year extension the Browns gave to Rob Chudzinski after the 2007 season.  That extension makes him the second highest paid offensive coordinator in the league behind Cowboys head-coach-in-waiting, and serial sweatshirt-wearer, Jason Garrett. 

Happily, these investments help to explain the offensive explosion of 2007 and further indicate that 2007 wasn't a flash in the pan but the beginning of the return on those investments.  Unhappily, it also means that the defense has been neglected to such an extent that defensive performances such as the most recent against the Cowboys should not be terribly surprising. 

As previously mentioned, if the Browns intend on being competitive in 2008 or, indeed, in the next three years, it is their offense that must lead them.   When we as fans dissect a loss like the one suffered this past Sunday, it's customary to bemoan the lack of a dominant defense, the sort that our archrivals always seem to field.  However, there is no acquisition the Browns can make between now and the fourteenth that will help defeat the Steelers.  In fact, I'm arguing that there's no fixing the defense this year or next, because what's required is a sustained investment to match the one made over the past few years in the offense.  This reality will mark the Browns current run as a competitive team in the NFL.  There is a good chance that by the time the current young defensive players and those yet to be drafted have matured, a significant part of our current offensive nucleus will have moved on.  (In fact, in Winslow's case, it might not be much longer until retirement becomes a real possibility, given his injuries.)

When I watch this weekend's game, I'll be looking for the offense to be more consistent and to finish drives.  I'm also hopeful that Coach Crennel will step up the aggressiveness just a little and take a chance on one or two fourth downs.  I am confident we can beat the Steelers and position ourselves for a division title this year but I can tell you that it will happen because we outscore opponents, not because of a quick-fix defensive addition in Week 3. 

This is a fan-created post. Dawgs By Nature assumes no responsibility for the content listed.

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