The Cleveland Browns offense has been better than expected this season with the club entering Week 6 as one of the league’s top-scoring offenses and boasting the best running attack in the NFL.
Things could always be better, of course, just look at the 2-3, but given that the Browns are currently playing with career backup Jacoby Brissett at quarterback, the offense has been a positive that the team can hang its hat on.
Except when it comes to operating in the red zone, where “cute play calling” from head coach Kevin Stefanski results in once-promising drives ending in frustration. The scenario generally plays out like this:
- If the Browns attempt a pass, fans scream they should run the ball, preferably with Nick Chubb but Kareem Hunt is an acceptable alternative as long as it is not near the end of the game.
- If the Browns attempt a run and it fails, then Stefanski “overthought” the situation and should have just smashed the ball into the pile.
- If the Browns actually score a touchdown, it is because the players excelled in spite of whatever play was called.
But is that true or is it more a myth created by fan agita?
Taking a look at the success rate of the league’s 32 teams heading into Week 6, courtesy of teamrankings.com, reveals that the Browns are converting 60 percent of their red zone chances into touchdowns, which plays them at No. 10 in the rankings, just a tick behind the Green Bay Packers (61.1 percent), Atlanta Falcons (61.1 percent) and Philadelphia Eagles (61.9 percent).
The Browns are also clicking at home when a conversion rate of almost 77 percent.
More notably, the Browns are ahead of such offensively lauded teams as the San Francisco 49ers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Cincinnati Bengals, Buffalo Bills, Los Angeles Chargers, Los Angeles Rams and Denver Broncos.
One thing those teams have in common, in addition to being worse in the red zone than the Browns, is that they are all operating with highly regarded quarterbacks in Jimmy Garappolo, Tom Brady, Joe Burrow, Josh Allen, Justin Herbert, Matthew Stafford and Russell Wilson, rather than a career backup like Brissett. (Not to knock Brissett as he is doing his best.)
Touchdowns are always better than field goals, of course, and given that Cleveland’s three losses have come by a combined six points, every point matters.
But when it comes to the Browns misfiring in the red zone, that has been more myth than reality through the season’s first six games.