Browns still have a few attainable milestones in 2017
By Thomas Moore
The Cleveland Browns may be sitting an 0-13 on the season, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have anything to play for in the final three games.
The Cleveland Browns have just about clinched the No. 1 overall selection in the 2018 NFL Draft.
The Browns only need to lose one more game, easy enough for a team that is sitting at 1-28 under head coach Hue Jackson, or see the New York Giants pick up a win, not quite a sure thing even with the return of quarterback Eli Manning, for the Browns to become the first team to have the No. 1 overall selection in consecutive years since … the 1999-2000 Browns!
That carries a bit of a caveat, however, as the 1999 Browns were gifted the No. 1 overall selection by virtue of being an expansion team.
In addition to their own pick the Browns also possess the first-round pick of the Houston Texans, which is currently at No. 6 overall, so Cleveland will be keeping a close eye on the Texans.
It is not all draft positioning, of course, on the minds of the Browns over the final three games of the season. The Browns also need to pick up a win to avoid becoming the first team since the 2008 Detroit Lions to finish a season at 0-16.
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There are also a few individual milestones that are within reach for a handful of players, starting with rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer.
Despite being benched three different times this season, Kizer is third on the franchise’s all-time list for passing yards by a rookie quarterback with 2,252 yards, according to clevelandbrowns.com. With a decent day on Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens, Kizer should pass Tim Couch (2,447 yards) for second place and, barring an injury or another benching, has a very outside chance of catching Brandon Weeden (3,385 yards) for the top spot.
Kizer has realistic chance to pass Mike Phipps for the most rushing yards by a quarterback in a single season as Kizer (315 yards) only needs 81 yards to surpass Phipps’ team record of 395 yards, which he set in 1973.
Finally, Otto Graham’s team record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback, eight, is within striking distance as Kizer currently have five rushing touchdowns.
Staying with the offense, running back Isaiah Crowell needs to average 95 yards per game to notch the first 1,000-yard rushing season of his NFL career. Crowell has 716 rushing yards this season, which according to the team’s website, makes him the first Browns running back to rush for more than 600 yards in four consecutive seasons since Greg Pruitt, who accomplished the feat from 1975 to 1978.
Of course, Pruitt rushed for 4,113 yards during those four years, while playing a 14-game schedule, while Crowell has just 2,981 career yards while playing a 16-game season. In other words, Crowell is a nice running back but he is no Greg Pruitt.
That being said, Crowell needs just 215 rushing yards to pass Ernie Green for seventh-place on the franchise’s all-time career rushing list, which is a nice accomplishment.
So with that to look forward too, let’s take a quick spin through the league power rankings, shall we?
"No. 32 (no change): The Browns are winless, but there have been some bright spots, and nothing is more encouraging than the rushing defense. They’ve allowed 3.3 yards per rush, the fewest in the NFL this season and a massive improvement over last season, when they ranked 29th. (Pittsburgh No. 1, Baltimore No. 12, Cincinnati No. 23)"
"No. 32 (no change): They had their chance to get their first victory, but blew a 14-point lead to the Packers. That was so Browns-like. (Pittsburgh No. 1, Baltimore No. 14, Cincinnati No. 24)."
"No. 32 (no change): I can’t believe the Browns blew Sunday’s game. Actually, never mind — I absolutely can believe it. That seemed like their shot to avoid 0-16, and they blew a 21-7 lead. On the bright side, what receiver Josh Gordon is doing three years after playing his last game is amazing. Don’t kid yourself, it’s not easy to be that good that fast after three years off. (Pittsburgh No. 1, Baltimore No. 12, Cincinnati No. 26)."
"No. 32 (no change): Guess it goes without saying that DeShone Kizer can’t unload that ball in overtime. At least not like he did, with his pass looking more like a Roman candle than any ball Brian Sipe put up. Chris Spielman nailed it on the broadcast, saying that Kizer simply panicked. The Packers caught Kizer’s toss (punt?), and another loss was soon in the books. More significant than Kizer’s blunder was another viable outing from the Browns’ defense, which couldn’t hold Brett Hundley down in the end but has overcome being kept on the field all season by a non-existent Browns offense. More – much more – significant: the hiring of John Dorsey, a football man, as GM. This signals a departure from Moneyball and a departure from meddling. Having recently watched Brad Pitt in track suits play Billy Beane in Moneyball, I’m a fan of sabermetrics. That said, the Browns aren’t the 2002 A’s, and Bill James isn’t walking through that door."
And here you thought the Perfect Season Parade was the only reason to keep watching the Browns this season.