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Browns 60-second rant: Offense needs more balance

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Posted Oct. 05, 2011 @ 3:16 a.m. ET
By Mike Wilkening

Pop quiz: Who leads the AFC in passing attempts? No, it's not Tom Brady or Philip Rivers.

The answer? The Browns' Colt McCoy, who's thrown 172 passes. Through four games, Cleveland has attempted passes on 179-of-280 offensive plays (63.9 percent).

Granted, McCoy's 61-pass effort vs. Tennessee in Week Four inflates the passing percentage significantly. Trailing by at least 18 points for the majority of the second half, Cleveland attempted 41 passes and five rushes in the final 30 minutes. Circumstance led the Browns to throw so often vs. Tennessee, and the strategy was necessary with time of the essence.

However, even if you remove the Week Four statistics, when Cleveland's pass-run ratio was about 3:1, the Browns still show some pass-happy tendencies. They rushed about 41 percent of the time in the first three games of the season.

That said, the numbers don't exactly make a compelling case for Cleveland to be throwing so often unless it has little other choice. Consider:

— McCoy is completing 58.1 percent of his passes, 23rd among qualifying passers per NFL statistics.

— McCoy's average pass length is 5.74 yards, last among qualifying passers. His completion length is 4.61 yards, which is tied for last.

— His QB rating of 78.7 is eighth-worst among qualifying passers.

— Browns receivers are averaging 5.23 yards after the catch, 19th-best in the NFL. 

Now, the Browns' rushing attack hasn't exactly shined, either. Cleveland is averaging 3.4 yards per carry (seventh-worst) and 85.8 rushing yards (sixth-worst). However, RB Peyton Hillis was the Browns' offensive MVP a season ago, and backup Montario Hardesty has shown some promise in the first four games.

When they can, the Browns have to emphasize the run a little more. Yes, the passing game has had its moments. Sharp passing from McCoy, for instance, led the Browns back in the season opener vs. Cincinnati. But until the passing game becomes more efficient or explosive — or both — it's time to work more running plays into the attack.

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