Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

Archive for the tag “Ben Tate”

5 Questions in 5 Days: the Browns running game

browns training camp tateThe Cleveland Browns were historically bad when it came to running the football in 2013.

It what was arguably the worst performance in franchise history, the Browns were 27th in the NFL with just 86.4 rushing yards per game and rushed for a league-low four touchdowns. By comparison, the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, widely considered the worst team in NFL history, managed to rush for five touchdowns in an 0-14 season.

Willis McGahee “led” the Browns in rushing with 377 yards – the fewest rushing yards to lead the team since Ray Renfro’s 352 yards in 1953. (Although Renfro only ran the ball 60 times that season and averaged 5.9 yards per carry. McGahee? He averaged 2.7). Things were so bad that (too) many fans were excited about Edwin Baker, a seventh-round draft pick who was on three teams during the season, thinking he was the answer simply because he was better than what the Browns were trotting out for most of the season.

And while we know that the running game is supposed to not matter anymore in the NFL, six of the top 10 rushing teams last season made the playoffs.

Enter Ben Tate and Terrance West.

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Browns finally getting serious about fixing the running game

New Orleans Saints v Houston TexansThe Cleveland Browns agreed to a two-year contract with free agent running back Ben Tate on Saturday.

And, in the process, the Browns announced that they will no longer be content to roll out a repeat of last year’s clown show at the running back position.

After missing his rookie season with an ankle injury, Tate has rushed for 4.73 yards per carry over the past three seasons, showing that he can be effective in the type of offense that Browns offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan likes to run. Tate took over as the starter in Week 8 of last season after Adrian Foster was injured, but suffered four broken ribs in that game, which limited his productivity. But he still finished the season with 771 rushing yards and four touchdowns.

Those numbers may not seem gaudy, but when you put them up against what the Browns did last year in the running game – the single-worst season in franchise history – Tate comes across as a Hall of Famer. Willis McGahee, Chris Ogbonnaya, Edwin Baker and Fozzy Whitaker combined for 739 yards and four touchdowns last season, along with a 2.9 yard per carry average.

That clearly was no longer going to cut it.

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