On Thursday, we noted that two members of the Cleveland Browns were included in midseason All-Pro teams by Pro Football Focus. Unfortunately, the club also had a handful players who were highlighted as being the worst, or among the worst, players at their position in 2015.
The players who received the shameful honors were FB Malcolm Johnson, TE Jim Dray (honorable mention only), DL Xavier Cooper, CB Joe Haden, and K Travis Coons (honorable mention only). It's actually not too surprising of a list -- in my film review sessions, I've harped on how the lack of positive blocking by the fullback and tight end positions is killing the team's running game. Here is what PFF had to say about Johnson, Cooper, and Haden, specifically:
Fullback: Malcolm Johnson, Browns, 30.5
There are many that call the fullback a dead position in the NFL. It’s true that many teams no longer employ a traditional fullback in their offense, aside from short-yardage plays. The Browns are one of the teams still using a fullback fairly regularly, although it’s not clear why. Johnson is our lowest-graded fullback, and it isn’t even close. He’s been essentially useless in run blocking, which is about the only thing fullbacks are really used for. In 136 snaps, he’s made just four positively-graded plays. That’s not a lot.
Cooper has struggled slightly more against the run (40.8 grade) than rushing the passer (45.4), although neither grade is very good. He’s made only four run stops all year, for a very low run stop percentage of just 4.8. In terms of pass rushing, he’s recorded just two hurries all season. He’s posted below-average grades in every game except for one, in which he was exactly average.
Haden hasn’t played in many games this year, but when he has, the Browns would have been better off with him not suiting up. Haden is averaging just 6.2 cover snaps per reception, which is the fourth-lowest in the NFL. What’s more, his 2.60 yards per cover snaps allowed is the most in the NFL. Quarterbacks targeting Haden are 24-for-31 for 387 yards and four touchdowns. That’s a QB rating of 158.2. Quarterbacks in the NFL this season have been 0.1 point off of being absolutely perfect throwing at Joe Haden.
Maybe the Browns should just stop drafting fullbacks, eh? Cooper was supposed to be a niche pass-rushing specialist, but the team has not seemed to utilize him in that manner. Haden's awful year is difficult to explain in context to his other seasons. Coons was probably knocked for his kickoff distance, and Dray has been a non-factor all around this year.