Even when the Browns do something right …
One of the long-held beliefs in the NFL is the need to build a team “from within” – meaning you should focus on having a strong offensive and defensive line.
The Browns have been doing just that the past few years and it is starting to pay off in one respect, as Pro Football Focus ranked the offensive line as the fifth best in the NFL.
The site sums up the line by saying: “It’s not the done thing to give praise to Cleveland. That said, their line is extremely talented and when they were forced to introduce John Greco into the lineup they got even better. The stars are (Joe) Thomas and Alex Mack, but the play of rookie Mitchell Schwartz bodes well for this line for a long time to come.”
“I think the offensive line, as a whole, did a pretty good job,” Mack said shortly after the season ended. “We had some injuries. People did a great job stepping up and filling in those spots. We had pretty good protection, and I think we ran the ball pretty well. Hopefully, we can be a little more consistent and have a better year next year.”
Thomas, Mack, Shawn Lauvao and rookie Mitchell Schwartz all started every game this season. That feat was particularly impressive in the case of Schwartz at right tackle as the Browns went through three players (Tony Pashos, Artis Hicks and Oniel Cousins) at that position in 2011.
“Mitch did a great job in his rookie season,” Mack said. “He stepped up early in the year, won the starting role and throughout the year, was a very consistent player. That’s what you want with a tackle. You want him to be the same player every day. Mitch is the same guy and he’s smart. He gets the job done really well.”
The Browns were also the highest-ranked offensive line in the division, ahead of Cincinnati (8th), Baltimore (17th) and the joke that is Pittsburgh’s offensive line (25th).
Of course, those teams all finished ahead of the Browns in the standings this year, a fact that continually gets on our tits.
(Photo by Getty Images)