Feeling brave? Then let’s take a peek at how the reality compared to my August estimates, shall we?
Percent of starts made by rookies
Over/under: 46 player-games, or 13.1%.
Actual: 74 player-games, or 21%. OVER.
With 14 different rookies making at least one start on offense or defense, the baby Browns blew by the benchmark here. Only Emmanuel Ogbah started every game among the rookies. Corey Coleman was next with ten starts. By year’s end, Hue was sending out several rookies who hadn’t even been with the Browns in camp.
2016 draft picks who appear in Game 1
Actual: nine. OVER.
Wide receivers on the opening day 53-man roster
Actual: six. UNDER.
The Browns went with Terrelle Pryor, Andrew Hawkins, and the four rookie draftees. Among the cuts: tiny Taylor Gabriel, who reunited with offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan in Atlanta and scored seven TDs, the same as Browns team leader Isaiah Crowell.
Robert Griffin III completions to Josh Gordon
Actual: zero. UNDER.
This was always a distinct possibility given Gordon’s difficulties with substance abuse suspensions and RGII’s fragility, both of which affected the Browns’ season for the worse.
Contract extensions signed by veteran players before season’s end
Actual: one, CB Jamar Taylor. CORRECT.
The Browns had and have the league’s most cap space, so it’s good to hear that the front office plans to lock up key talent. The three-year extension for Taylor, who led Browns DBs with 14 starts and is entering his prime at age 26, is a good beginning. Potential unrestricted free agents include Pryor, LB Jamie Collins, OL Austin Pasztor, DB Jordan Poyer, and P Britton Colquitt. Beyond that, the coming weeks and months are the best time to secure young vets entering their contract years. Foremost among them are LB Chris Kirksey and G Joel Bitonio. Crowell could also see a multi-year offer, as he’s poised to become a restricted free agent.
Touchdowns scored by pass plays of 40-plus yards
Actual: zero. UNDER.
As bad as the Browns were, this shutout still surprised me, given the type of big-play offense we saw Hue Jackson installing early on. Cleveland’s longest TD through the air was 31 yards, courtesy of Josh McCown and Coleman against Baltimore in Week 2.
Touchdowns allowed by pass plays of 40-plus yards
Actual: four. UNDER.
So this was near expectation, though one can hardly call that first-half Hail Mary to A.J. Green expected. Opponents had seven scoring pass plays longer Cleveland’s longest.
Actual: 18. OVER.
Also remarkably close. They converted 13 of those attempts, which tied for the league lead.
Actual: 66. OVER.
Yep, getting sacked over 10% of the time you drop back to pass will tend to set you back a little bit. The Browns were sacked 34% more times than the second-most-sacked team, the Rams. I lost count how many times Browns QBs were knocked out by injury. There were at least three concussions and two fractures. Instability on the OL is an obvious factor, but all the quarterbacks had their difficulties finding a good rhythm in the passing game.
Sacks by defense
Actual: 26. UNDER.
The overhauled Browns defense failed to generate a consistent pass rush, with only one sack saving them from the league’s lowest total. More than 80% of the sacks came from players in their first season with the Browns.
Team rushing average yards per carry
Actual: 4.89 yards. OVER.
Their per-carry average ranked second highest in the league, but they also had the second fewest carries.
Rushing average yards per carry allowed
Actual: 4.58 yards. OVER.
Only three teams allowed more yards per carry, and only one gave up more yards on the ground.
Offensive linemen to start at least one game
Actual: ten. OVER.
Injuries wreaked havoc on the interior of the O-line.
Quarterbacks to start at least one game
Actual: three. OVER.
Individual 100-yard game performances (rushing or receiving)
Actual: nine. OVER.
That’s five rushing (four by Crowell, one by Hogan) and four receiving (three by Pryor, one by Coleman).
Regular season Browns wins
Actual: one. UNDER.
Even against the point spread, the Browns went 4-12.