The Cleveland Browns offensive line was predicted to be one of the worst if not the worst in the league. How have they done after one quarter of the season?
The Cleveland Browns offense is better than expected! After one quarter of the season, the Browns are leading the league in rushing, due, in no small part, to the change in offensive schemes with the arrival of head coach Hue Jackson.
This past offseason, fans and media were mourning the loss of center Alex Mack and right tackle Mitchell Schwartz. The drama ran so high, one would think the apocalypse was upon Cleveland. The departures of Mack and Schwartz spelled certain doom for any Browns quarterback, and there was no chance the running game could be effective without them, or so the story went.
Somewhere in all the Browns bashing and woeful lament people forgot that the Browns were a 3-13 team with that offensive line. They lost sight of the fact that the running game was pitiful until the Browns changed from an outside zone scheme to a power-run scheme. Last season the Browns were 22nd in the league in rushing. Even that number was greatly boosted by the rushing performances of the last three games.
The Browns offense last season was 21st in the league in passing. Even those numbers are skewed given the Browns threw the ball incessantly most of the season. Pass blocking was wildly ineffective and contributed to multiple injured quarterbacks. Much like every year preceding 2015, the Browns used multiple starting quarterbacks and started their third-string quarterback for the last game of the season.
In the post Mack-Schwartz apocalyptic fallout, expectations for the 2016 offensive line were extremely low.
However, the Browns’ post-apocalyptic offensive line came out in the first quarter of 2016 and played effectively. Did they play perfect? No. Did they protect the passer well? Not really. But they did one thing not a single person predicted: they blocked well enough to lead the league in rushing.
The one-quarter point is a good place to go back and revisit some of my statements and predictions for the Browns offensive line in 2016.