At a time when analytics continue to become more accepted in mainstream NFL discourse, it’s important to not lose sight of the only stat that matters: Points scored versus points allowed, determined one game at a time.
That basic statistical reality became part of Browns quarterback Jacoby Brissett‘s position on Wednesday regarding the run-heavy nature of the Cleveland offense.
“Whatever we have to do to score one more point,” Brissett told reporters. “Listen, I don’t have an ego to where I want to go out there and try to be somebody that I am not. I just go out there and try to play good football, play to the best of my ability and be a good teammate. All of those things come with it.”
The Browns currently have 572 rushing yards and 596 passing yards. They’ve run the ball 114 times, passed it 96 times.
“It is exciting,” Brissett said regarding the running game, when it’s clicking. “We understand . . . how it wears down teams in the fourth quarter. We have really good offensive linemen, and we have really good offensive backs. We would be a fool not to run the ball and make the defense defend that part of our game. I am excited for the future of that and how we are going to continue to help it out.”
Even if that means far more running than passing?
“I don’t care,” Brissett said. “It is working. Doesn’t matter to me.”
Brissett explained that success in the running game gives the entire team a lift.
“You kind of feel it in not just the huddle but on the sideline,” Brissett said. “Yeah, teams know we are going to run the ball, and we still run the ball. At some point, it shows the defeat sometimes when we know we have them on the ropes. Sometimes that is the blow that it takes is another run. Then you just look to the last game, and it was the pass to Amari [Cooper]. However we have to get it done.”
That 32-yard pass to Cooper came on third and one on the touchdown drive that seemed to put the dagger in the Steelers, on a play when Pittsburgh was determined to keep the Browns from gaining the yardage on the ground. That’s what helps make play-action passing so effective.
So can a team get to the Super Bowl in today’s NFL with more running than passing?
“I don’t know,” Brissett said. “We will see.”
We’ll also see if it continues after Deshaun Watson‘s suspension ends. With the money and draft picks invested to secure Watson’s services, the powers-that-be in Cleveland may expect to see more throws in order to justify the acquisition. That would be a mistake.
Before they get to the run-pass mix with Watson playing, Watson has to be playing. If the Browns keep winning with the current formula, should they stick with the quarterback who’s making it happen? It’s not a crazy question. If the Browns are winning with the current formula and personnel, why risk throwing it all askew with a quarterback who hasn’t played in a regular-season game since January 2021?