Before the season would you have predicted the Cleveland Browns would be less diverse than the Ravens? Numbers say that the Browns over-focus on Odell Beckham, Jr. and Jarvis Landry
The numbers say that the Cleveland Browns are having trouble diversifying their offense. Before the season if you were going to guess which team between them and Baltimore would have a diversified offense that distributes the ball to several receivers including more than one tight end, and gives touches to several different running backs, probably most of us would have guessed that would be the Cleveland Browns.
Conversely, a lot of us thought that the Ravens might run a more simple offense, especially since quarterback Lamar Jackson likes to run the ball himself. However, that’s not what the numbers say.
For example, would you like to guess how often the Browns’ third-leading wide receiver is targeted? That would be Damion Ratley with only 18 targets on the year. Hollywood Higgins emerged as a reliable receiver last year. This year he is a forgotten man with only 11 targets.
The Browns have five tight ends on the roster. All told, they have totaled only 62 targets for the year, led by Demetrius Harris with only 23 targets.
The tables, based on stats from NFL.com and Pro Football Reference, calculate the Intended Touches (IT) which is the number of times that the quarterback targeted the player (either complete or incomplete) plus the number of rushing attempts.
In other words, it’s the number of times that the team tried to get the ball to that player. The percentage of passing plays includes targets but also passes in which no player was targeted (passes were thrown out of bounds, spiked to stop the clock, etc). Sacks are also considered a passing play because, obviously, they were trying to throw the ball so in this writer’s opinion it should count as an incomplete pass.
How does that compare to the Baltimore Ravens? First of all, their tight ends have been targeted 160 times, more than twice as often as the Browns. All three of their tight end have been targeted more than Cleveland’s top TE threat, Demetrius Harris.
The Ravens don’t have a true headliner wide receiver, and moreover often play two tight ends and use a fullback. Nevertheless, they have four of their five wide receivers with more targets than the Browns’ number three wide receiver. Baltimore spreads the ball more than the Browns do.
The Ravens also have three running backs that get carries and targets. Then there’s the fourth guy in Patrick Ricard, who earns his living as a Pro Bowl defensive lineman, but who also plays fullback.
You might think that being a running back for the Ravens is a boring job because Lamar Jackson is doing the heavy lifting, but this is not the case.
Baltimore is using all of their running backs, and not counting the contribution from Jackson, the Ravens running backs as still gaining nearly as many yards as the Browns twosome of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.
More from Dawg Pound Daily
- How the Browns could maximize Nick Chubb in 2023
- Can Deshaun Watson get to Patrick Mahomes level for Cleveland Browns?
- 3 Cleveland Browns who should see an expanded role in 2023 and 1 who should not
- Is Marcus Davenport on the Browns radar in 2023?
- 5 Free agents from Super Bowl LVII Cleveland Browns should target
The Browns are now generating opportunities for Hunt, splitting his time between fullback, tailback and slot receiver. But before Hunt was activated, the Browns really had only three main players getting most of the touches — Chubb, Landry, and OBJ.
The Ravens truly are a run-first team, calling a running play 57 percent of the time. According to his detractors, Lamar Jackson is supposedly a one-read-and-run quarterback.
But while it is true that Jackson is a threat to take off after the first read, or even with zero reads (designed run) the numbers say he is getting the ball to the tight ends and to the extra wide receivers, even though they don’t put the ball in the air as often. The Browns are the opposite, attempting to go airborne 57 percent of the time even though they have the NFL’s leading rusher in Chubb.
It’s hard to think that this is the offense that the team was imagining in the offseason. The Browns downfield passing game is almost exclusively in the hands of Landry and OBJ.
The other receiving targets have seen their roles diminished. However, the running game has gone from a one-star show with Nick Chubb to a two-back system with Kareem Hunt seeing an increased role. That is very positive, particularly since there is no third wide receiver or tight end that they really like to throw to.
What do you think, fans? Should the Browns continue to depend heavily on their star playmakers? Or would you rather see a more diversified attack?
Are the Browns getting enough out of players like Njoku, Ricky Seals-Jones, Ratley and Higgins? Or would you rather open up the playbook and get some more mileage from them?