It isn’t really any kind of a season milestone for the Browns other than the fact that they have hit their bye week and the news comes in a bit slower. Still, seven games is a pretty good sample size to take a bit of stock to see just how the Browns are doing compared to what we saw a year ago. Just from judging with your own eyes, you should know that what we are seeing is better. Obviously it still isn’t good enough, but trust me when I tell you it is better.
First things first, the record this year is 2-5. A year ago after seven games the Browns were 1-6 with their lone win coming in that horrendous 6-3 affair in Buffalo. That game could also eventually be deemed the last meaningful game of Jamal Lewis’ career as he ran for over 100 yards. Seeing as he didn’t catch on with anyone this season, I am guessing that will be the final 100+ yard game of Jamal Lewis’ career. Speaking of rushing.
So far in 2010 the Browns have rushed for 708 yards compared with 680 the prior year. The Browns had 173 yards rushing against the Ravens in 2010 and lost by a touchdown. In 2009, the Browns rushed for 171 yards in that game against Buffalo that they won. In 2010 the Browns have rushed for over 100 yards as a team 4 times, while in 2009 to this point it was only 2 times.
I know the passing game is still much-maligned here in Cleveland, and rightfully so. The Browns have used three QBs in 2010 already which is certainly not according to their plans. Also, the wide receivers still aren’t as much better as we might have hoped between Mohamed Massaquoi and Brian Robiskie. But between the new QBs, new tight end Ben Watson, some spots of Evan Moore, and some catches out of the backfield by Peyton Hillis, the Browns have been much improved through seven games. The Browns have 438 passing yards more than what they had in 2009. They have four games in which they have thrown for over 200 yards, compared with JUST ONE a year ago. Again, I know 200 yards isn’t exactly an impressive milestone for a passing game. Also, I know the Browns really didn’t show much with their 85 passing yards in their last win against New Orleans. Make no mistake though, the passing game is 438 yards better up to this point.
So how about that defense? The Browns’ defense has given up 416 fewer yards than a year ago. They have given up 1 yard less in the passing game and 415 fewer yards in the running game. The Browns defense has forced 12 turnovers so far in the 2010 season vs. 11 in 2009. All in, it is hard to say that the Browns’ defense isn’t better overall. Still, even with the upgraded secondary the Browns seem to be suffering from a lack of pass rush. So far in 2010 the Browns have 13 sacks with Marcus Benard leading the way with 4.5 and Fujita following him with 3.5. A year ago, the Browns had 12 sacks after seven games. Not much change there.
So for the rest, here’s how it shakes out. Opponents have scored about 5.3 fewer points per game so far. The Browns have scored almost 6.6 points more per game than a year ago. The Browns have 2.86 more first downs per game than they had in 2009. They are gaining almost 67 yards more per contest, while giving up almost 60 fewer yards per game. That is a 120+ yard swing from a season ago per game.
So, what you are seeing every week isn’t just your eyes playing tricks on you. This team has a ways to go, but they are measurably improved on a year over year basis.