19 noteworthy 2015 Browns statistics

The Browns’ hiring of Moneyball maven Paul DePodesta bodes well for the innovative use of data in decision-making rather than gut feelings, groupthink, or rigid adherence to conventional wisdom, which often leads to a conservative form of futility known as “playing not to lose.”

But rather than speculating just yet about what kind of models, variables, and process will now be in play in Berea — or figuring out some high-falutin’ way of working “stochastic” into this humble football blog — I’ll just set forth a few of the more unusual or remarkable observations from the 2015 Browns statistics:

  1. The offense, which ex-coach Mike Pettine thought of as an overachieving unit, finished 30th of 32 teams in points scored and 25th in yardage. The high-priced defense ranked 29th in points and 27th in yards allowed.
  2. Outscored by 154 points in 16 games, the Browns’ differential was the league’s worst. Only two other times in Browns history have they ranked last in point margin: the expansion-era teams of 1999 and 2000.
  3. The Browns failed to have a quarterback start the majority of their games for the third time in the last six years and the fifth time since 1999.  In the original Browns’ 50 seasons, this was the case only four times: 1956, 1962, 1992, and 1993.
  4.  In four of their games, the quarterback was the Browns’ leading rusher. They lost all four. (In the season opener, the Browns’ top two leading rushers were both QBs.)
  5. The Browns lost a league-high 18 fumbles. In 2014, they lost only seven.
  6. Paul Kruger‘s sack total decreased from a career-high 11 in 2014 to just 2.5. Despite playing every game and starting 15, he made just 16 solo tackles and 11 assists. He was not credited with a pass defensed all year.
  7. The Browns were one of two teams not to make any field goals of 50 or more yards. Rookie Travis Coons missed only four field goal attempts all year, all of them blocked.
  8. Browns tight ends other than Gary Barnidge caught just eight passes (out of 22 targets) for 74 yards. Excluding the team’s statistical leader at TE, that’s their worst production of the expansion era.
  9. Browns cornerbacks intercepted one pass all year.
  10. Only one Browns team — in the Chud season of 2013 — completed more passes than the 371 in the just-completed year.
  11. Terrelle Pryor caught just one of the eight passes thrown his way, but it went for 42 yards, placing him fourth in Browns history in yards per reception, behind other single-catch studs Ronnie Powell, Lou Saban, and Tommy James.
  12. Conversely, the long-awaited first rushing attempt of Glenn Winston was a disaster. In Week 14, he fumbled the ball away for an eight-yard loss. A concussion that day ended his season. That gives him the worst career rushing average of any Browns running back, though three others lost more yards on their single attempts.
  13. Speaking of concussions, no team since at least 2012 had more incidents of players being so diagnosed than this year’s Browns, who tallied 16.
  14. When the Browns got to the red zone (opponents’ 20-yard-line or better), they scored touchdowns just 38% of the time, the worst rate in the league by more than five percent.
  15. The two oldest players on the Browns defense, LB Karlos Dansby (34) and CB Tramon Williams (32), played the highest percentage of the unit’s snaps, 98.5% and 92.1%, respectively. Only one other defender was on the field for at least 80% of their plays: S Donte Whitner (age 30, 81.1%).
  16. The sixth-overall draft pick in 2013, LB Barkevious Mingo, played in every game but just 24.4% of the time. Twenty Browns defenders saw more action. CB Justin Gilbert, the eighth-overall pick in 2014, was in for just 4.8% of the defensive snaps.
  17. Nickel corner K’Waun Williams had more sacks than Dansby and Mingo combined.
  18. RB Isaiah Crowell averaged less than two yards per carry in five separate games, yet managed a decent season average of 3.8. He was at least consistent with his hands. He caught 19 of 22 targets, the highest percentage on the team, with no drops, and he did not fumble in his 204 touches.
  19. The Browns were more effective running from the shotgun (5.4 YPC) than with the QB under center (3.1). But the opposite was true of the passing game, where the rating was 79.1 from shotgun compared to 91.0 from under center. Fifty of the 55 sacks came from shotgun formation, which the Browns used 66% of the time.