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Data: Browns running more often than expected on first downs

Adjusting for game situation and more, the data seems surprising.

NFL: New England Patriots at Cleveland Browns Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

In the search for simple answers to why the Cleveland Browns 2022 NFL season has started so poorly, firing DC Joe Woods and running the football more with RB Nick Chubb are near the top of the list. Forget that recovering an onside kick against the New York Jets, making a field goal against the Los Angeles Chargers or any one of many blown plays on defense getting fixed and the team has a winning record.

No more Woods and more Chubb seem to be the common answers for Browns fans and media.

There may be some truth to those requests even though it seems we won’t see a lot of changes around the team anytime soon. However, today a piece of data was presented that provides some context to the team’s run game under head coach and play caller Kevin Stefanski.

Apparently, Cleveland is running the ball far more often than expected on first down:

The data, which could be called analytical information, looks at what type of play is likely to be called in a given first down based on the variables of the score, time of the game and more.

It is interesting to look at some of the groupings. At the top are two of the best teams in the league, Kansas City and Buffalo, while two other team with good records (Dallas and the New York Giants) are found near the bottom of the list.

What we learn from this is that you can be very successful, at least so far in the 2022 NFL season, by running the ball more than expected on first down or by throwing the ball more often. In general, all things being equal, throwing the ball is more successful long term than running it. It is key that your team is good at the thing you are doing more often.

For Stefanski and the Browns offense, they are still running the ball at a high clip. Currently, Cleveland’s 198 carries rank third in the league behind Philadelphia (225) and Atlanta (198) who both have mobile quarterbacks. Perhaps its less about how often the team runs the ball and more about when they run the ball. Right now, they are running the ball on first down at a high rate.

Are you surprised to see the data on when the Browns run the ball and the overall carries number?