Monday, December 8, 2014

Browns offense failed the defense Sunday in a rare way

Everyboody watching the Browns lose an epic all-time (or maybe only for the last couple weeks) crappy game Sunday to the Indianapolis Colts know what a gut punch it was. The crowd was so electric, the defense was playing amazing, the special teams was letting Josh Cribbs he's no longer welcome in the Dawg Pound....

...and what did the offense do? Less than nothing. It's clear to everyone not named Brian Hoyer that something is drastically wrong with the quarterback position, and a change is necessary now. Everybody knows that. Even the sportswriters who last week weren't sure. Even the Hall of Fame Browns lineman who vouched for Hoyer last year. Even the haters who are all over Johnny Clipboard Football Manziel for showing up a mere two hours before kickoff Sunday. (Wait, what?? Johnny--get your ass to the stadium. What the hell?)

We decided to take a look on Pro Football Reference** at every game since the merger where one team had two or more return touchdowns, like Browns did Sunday. What did we find? Out of the 477 games since the AFL-NFL merger where one team had two touchdowns, the touchdown-returning team lost the game just 68 times, a mere 17% of games. Ya know what, this was actually more than I would have thought. But still rare, and tells you that when your defense or special teams scores two or more touchdowns, and you still lose--your offense must have really struggled. So who played quarterback for these disappointing offenses? We looked at the most recent games.

Kinda a random sample of quarterbacks, some better than average, some Hall of Famers. From Mark Sanchez to Matthew Stafford to Josh Johnson to Jason Campbell (remember this great game last year?) to Aaron Rodgers to Nick Foles this September. In fact, Foles' Eagles' defense/special teams scored three touchdowns, and they still lost.

So what does that tell us? It tells us not much. But in these games, the quarterback almost always had a terrible game. Rodgers was 15-26 for 142, Sanchez 11-35 for 119, Stafford was 10-25 for 151. Brian Hoyer Sunday? 14-31 for 140. I'm sorry Brian, we like you. We really do. And it might not be over. A good quarterback and offense can have a bad day. But in the Browns case, that's not what has happened. It's been a month-plus of bad days, where our QB's rating hasn't broken the speed limit. And the Browns desperately need a change in fortune.

**I pray I crunched the stats right...if not, someone let me know?)