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Browns 60-second rant: First-quarter woes persist

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Posted Nov. 01, 2011 @ 9:29 p.m. ET
By Mike Wilkening

The 2010 Browns had a below-average offense. They were 31st in points, 29th in yards, 29th in passing, 20th in rushing.

That said, that Cleveland offense, for its flaws, at least did a fair-enough job starting games. The Browns outscored opponents 77-40 in the first quarter, and 168 of Cleveland's 271 points were scored in the first 30 minutes.

It has been a different story for the 2011 Browns. They have three first-quarter points in seven games — a Phil Dawson field goal in Week Four.  That's it. Cleveland has outscored opponents 51-40 in the second quarter, but in the third quarter, the offense again has had little to offer. The Browns have been outscored 29-6 in the first 15 minutes after halftime, though they do own a 47-27 cumulative fourth-quarter edge. 

With a new offense, a first-year head coach who's also the de facto offensive coordinator and a starting quarterback in his first full season at the helm of an NFL offense, glitches were to be expected, but such a struggle putting up points early in games — as well as right after halftime, when adjustments can be implemented — is notable.

Considering how well the Browns' defense has played this season, it would be nice to see what Dick Jauron's group could do if staked to a comfortable early lead. But Cleveland has scored first just twice this season — and both times it was but a field-goal lead.

Since the Browns' Week Five bye, the Browns have just 13 first-half points in three games — all in the second quarter.

With just seven games in the books, it's hard to simply write off the Browns' offense as a hopeless slow starter. But in this small-sized sample, the offense clearly hasn't fired on all cylinders. The bye week wasn't a tonic. Injuries have mounted at running back. QB Colt McCoy has been sacked four times in each of the last two games. The offense isn't prone to taking many downfield shots in the passing game, and the running game lacks big-play punch, too.

That said, the 2010 Cleveland offense wasn't exactly known for its special playmaking ability, either, but it didn't get left in the gate like this attack has early this season.

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