Incredibly, after a 1-15 season and an eight-game stretch in which their starting running back averaged 2.51 yards per carry, the Cleveland Browns had their highest team rushing average (4.89 YPC) since 1966, according to Dan Murphy of the Browns’ PR department.
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
In 1966, the Browns averaged 5.2 YPC and were led by RB Leroy Kelly (5.5 YPC) and FB Ernie Green (5.2 YPC).
Cleveland was second in the NFL in rushing average this season, only behind the 5.35 average of the Buffalo Bills. Here were the team's leading contributors to that mark, sorted by number of carries.
- RB Isaiah Crowell: 198 carries, 952 yards (4.8 YPC).
- RB Duke Johnson: 73 carries, 358 yards (4.9 YPC).
- QB Robert Griffin III: 31 carries, 190 yards (6.1 YPC).
- QB Kevin Hogan: 8 carries, 105 yards (13.1 YPC).
- RB George Atkinson: 7 carries, 34 yards (4.9 YPC).
Despite that success, for some bizarre reason, NFL.com draft analyst Lance Zierlein listed running back as one of the Browns’ three positions they need to address (h/t to @ejmaroun on Twitter for pointing this out):
Surely that has to be a typo, right? I guess not, because when it came time for Zierlein to talk about the Browns at No. 12, he still mentioned the need for strengthening the running game:
Crowell will be a restricted free agent in 2017, and I’d expect the club to use a second-round tender on him. Rather than thinking about new backs, they should be thinking about seeing if they can get Crowell a long-term extension before he eventually does hit the open market.
Also, by out top three needs being “quarterback, center/guard, and running back,” I guess our defense is all set, right?