PFF: Browns passing game is not the league’s worst

BALTIMORE, MD - NOVEMBER 10: Quarterback Cody Kessler
BALTIMORE, MD - NOVEMBER 10: Quarterback Cody Kessler /

The Cleveland Browns passing game is still very much a work in progress, but at least it is not the league’s worst, according to Pro Football Focus.

It may be damning with faint praise, but the Cleveland Browns do not have the worst passing attack in the NFL.

That is according to the analytics website Pro Football Focus, which ranked the passing games of each of the league’s 32 teams. And the site determined that the Browns currently reside at No 29:

"In limited action last season, but still enough to qualify among quarterbacks, QB Cody Kessler finished with a 78.2 adjusted completion percentage – fifth highest. However, among those qualified quarterbacks, he had thrown the fourth-fewest passes. Kessler has shown potential, but will be fighting off rookie DeShone Kizer every step of the way and needs to increase his volume of big plays. WR Kenny Britt may become a welcome addition as he saw averaged 2.00 yards per route run, 16th highest last season. After that, it’s unproven Corey Coleman and rookie tight end David Njoku rounding out the top threats in Cleveland."

It is a fair assessment of the situation, as hard as that may be for Browns fans to hear.

The Cody Kessler bandwagon is filling up daily, but he is also still a novice quarterback, one who went 0-8 as a starter in 2016 (make of that what you will), took too many sacks (21), and was unable (or unwilling) to throw the ball deep, much to the chagrin of head coach Hue Jackson.

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A year ago, Brock Osweiler was the hot free agent quarterback after going 5-2 for the Denver Broncos during their Super Bowl-winning season. The Broncos wanted to give him big money, as did the Houston Texans, and Osweiler ultimately decided to sign with Houston and their quarterback-killing coach Bill O’Brien.

Fourteen starts, 16 interceptions and a benching later, Osweiler is now in Cleveland.

DeShone Kizer may have the most promising future of the position group, but after playing just two seasons at Notre Dame, no one who understands the quarterback position at the NFL believes that Kizer should see the field this fall.

It is all not doom and gloom, however. Even with their various shortcomings, the quarterback group is better than a year ago when the Browns had Kessler, journeyman Josh McCown and a broken Robert Griffin III on the roster.

This is Kessler’s second season in Jackson’s offensive system, which can only help. Osweiler is obviously not worth the $16 million the Browns will pay him this season, thanks to the contract he signed with the Texans, but he showed in 2015 with the Broncos that there is something to work with. Kizer, while not yet ready, has the most promise of any quarterback the Browns have drafted since Tim Couch in 1999.

The receiving group may also turn out to be better than people are giving them credit for, although that comes with several caveats. Second-year receiver Corey Coleman needs to stay healthy, veteran Kenny Britt needs to show his first 1,000-yard season in 2016 was not a fluke, someone from the group of Rashard Higgins, Ricardo Louis and Jordan Payton needs to step up, and rookie tight end David Njoku needs to adjust to the NFL game in a hurry.

Next: ESPN hits mark with Browns best QBs

The good news is, when you are ranked No. 29, there is no where to go but up.