Browns offense beyond bad
By TOM WITHERS
AP Sports Writer
BEREA, Ohio (AP) -- When asked what he thought about the execution of his offense, colorful Tampa Bay coach John McKay once sarcastically said, "I'm all in favor it."
His Buccaneers of the 1970s were dreadful.
The Cleveland Browns are worse.
With just five offensive touchdowns, the Browns have eclipsed McKay's 1976-77 Bucs (7 TDs) -- regarded as one of the sorriest squads in NFL history -- for the fewest points in a 15-game span since 1950. Cleveland's scoring Sahara is magnified by the fact no Browns wide receiver has scored since Nov. 2, 2008, and no Browns running back has crossed the goal line since Nov. 17 of last year.
Cleveland's offense isn't very effective. It's highly offensive. In the wrong manner.
"It's been a work in progress," tight end Robert Royal said. "We've made small steps."
According to STATS LLC, the Browns' 8.7 scoring average is the third lowest since 1950, behind only Tampa Bay in 1977 (7.4) and Atlanta in 1974 (7.9).
At least they've got something to shoot for in this sinking season.
Statistically, the Browns have already bottomed out. They are ranked 32nd in points scored (78), total yards per game (214.3) and yards passing (116.2). Incredibly, there are 14 teams averaging more yards rushing per game than Cleveland is gaining through the air.
The Browns haven't scored a touchdown in three straight games, and during Monday night's 16-0 loss to Baltimore, they failed to cross the Ravens 45.
Cleveland's offense is beyond bad.
Still, embattled coach Eric Mangini extracted some positives -- minuscule as they were -- from the most recent defeat, which dropped the Browns (1-8) to 0-4 in the AFC North. He praised quarterback Brady Quinn's ability to handle a no-huddle attack, which had the Ravens confused during the first half, Yet it only resulted in a 0-0 tie at halftime.
But Quinn overthrew Royal on his third pass of the third quarter and the interception was returned for a TD by Baltimore's Dawan Landry. The score was all the Ravens would need against a Browns team that would have to average more than 36 points per game the rest of the season just to match New Orleans' point total (331) so far.
Turnovers have doomed the Browns, and unless they clean up their mistakes, Mangini's first season in Cleveland could be his last.
"Nothing affects outcome bigger than give-away, take-away ratio," he said. "There's been a bunch of times where we've been on the negative side of that. It affects outcomes. It affects production. It stops drives, all those things. That's something that I think we should be better at and you have to be better at. You have to. The differential in points based on turnovers is significant. It's hard to win that way."
And it's hard to win when you don't have any playmakers.
Mangini's decision to trade both Kellen Winslow and Braylon Edwards has left the Browns without any legitimate offensive weapons. Two years ago, the duo was instrumental in Cleveland having one of the league's most potent offenses. Their departure has left the cupboard bare.
Mangini was not about to admit he was wrong in trading one, or both, of them.
"When you make the decisions, you make the decisions that you think are best," he said. "I think we've had plenty of opportunities to score. I think we've had plenty of opportunities to move the football. I don't think those opportunities will go away. There have been a lot of different reasons why it hasn't happened, but the important thing is addressing those and getting those fixed."
There may be hope on the horizon. This Sunday, Cleveland visits equally incompetent Detroit.
The Browns and the Lions (1-8). Oh, my.
Detroit's defense is allowing a league-high 29 points per game, which is the Browns' combined point total in their last five games. Cleveland has scored in double digits just three times this season, and would seem to have a good chance of making it four inside Ford Field.
"We just have to execute," running back Jamal Lewis said.
McKay couldn't have said it any better.