BEREA-- Most football experts will tell you that you have to have a running game to win in the NFL. If that's true, the Browns have defied the odds in winning four games thus far this season.
The Browns running game has been virtually non-existent all season. The trio of running backs sharing the load have a disappointing average per carry of just 3.0 with 385 yards on 126 carries. Willis McGahee leads the team with 262 yards on 100 carries for a paltry 2.6 avg. Chris Ogbonnaya has the best average per carry among running backs with a 5.3 average on just 19 carries for 101 yards. He had a long carry of 22 yards. Fozzy Whittaker has seven carries for 22 yards (3.1 avg.).
Probably, the most glaring statistic is the Browns have just one rushing touchdown all season, by McGahee.
Ironically, during the spring OTAs and minicamp, many thought one of the Browns deepest and strongest position was at running back, with Trent Richardson, Montario Hardesty, Dion Lewis, Brandon Jackson and Ogbonnaya. However, Lewis was lost for the season with a leg injury and Hardesty was waived after having knee surgery. Jackson didn't make the team coming out of training camp and Richardson was traded away to the Colts for a first-round draft choice in 2014.
Overall, the average per carry is 3.7, but the average is buoyed by runs of non-running backs, including a 45-yard run by wide receiver Travis Benjamin, 34 yards by defensive back Josh Aubrey and a 22 yard run by wide receiver Josh Gordon. Richardson is still the second-leading rusher on the team with 105 yards on 31 carries (3.4 avg.) and he played just two games with the Browns before he was traded.
Through the first nine games the Browns have only rushed for over 100 yards twice. They had 103 in a win over the Vikings and 126 yards in a loss to the Lions. Overall, the Browns rank 25th in the NFL in rushing offense. McGahee is ranked 41st in the NFL in yards rushing.
The Browns had just 73 yards on 28 carries against the Ravens for an average of 2.6 per carry. McGahee averaged just 1.5 per carry with 31 yards on 21 carries. Thirty of the yards came on scrambles by Jason Campbell (20) and a run by Gordon (10).
“I think that if we’re using a group with a combination of those guys gives us enough of what we need, so that’s the key, and we have to do a better job of executing," Rob Chudzinski said. "We played against a great defense (last week). Give them a lot of credit, that front is hard to block and hard to run the ball on. They were playing hard. You saw it in the weeks leading up to our game, the kind of defense that they were playing against some great teams."
Chudzinski said the running game would be a point of emphasis during the bye week.
"So again, we’re going to look at it, we’ll refine it, we’re going to keep getting better from a technique perspective and from a scheme, trying to get our guys to do everything we can to put them in the best possible position," Chudzinski said. "It’s something that we’re going to look hard at in the next couple of days because we need to improve as the season goes on.”
Chudzinski admitted it's important to play to the strengths of the backs the team has.
“We’re working to find the things that those guys do," he said. "Then, during the course of the game, them being in there at different times and the right times and having the opportunities, that can be challenging. We’ll do a better job of getting them in when we need to and rolling it a little bit more and spreading it out.”
One possibility is to use Ogbonnaya more. He has the highest yards per carry average among the backs.
“That’s something we’re taking a good look at this week, the running game in general and getting (Ogbonnaya) some carries, we want to do.”
Offensive coordinator Norv Turner said that Ogbonnaya has been less than 100 percent with a rib injury and they have been "managing" his reps.
Campbell Honored: QB Jason Campbell was named the AFC Player of the Week for his play against the Ravens. Campbell was 23-of-35 for 262 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. He also rushed three times for 20 yards. Campbell completed 65.7 percent not his passes and had a rating of 116.6.
Pinkston Back: The Browns activated OL Jason Pinkston from the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list and waived OL Rashad Butler. Pinkston started the first six games of the 2012 season before being lost for the season with a blood clot in his lung. He recovered for training camp but suffered a high ankle sprain in the preseason. on Aug. 15 against the Lions. Pinkston (6-4, 305) is in his third season and has started all 22 games in his career at left guard.
Little Choked: WR Greg Little said he was choked at the bottom of the pile last week by Ravens' DB James Ihedigbo. Little drew two penalties in the game, both involved Ihedigbo.
"He was choking me," Little said.
Little threw Ihedigbo's helmet and received a personal foul for the action. He said he had "no regrets" for throwing the helmet.
"I'm pretty sure we'll play again," he said. "If he feels I'm not tough he knows where to find me."
Little also had a taunting penalty after a catch he made directed toward Ihedigbo.
HOF Speaks: Hall of Fame wide receiver Michael Irvin spoke to the Browns before practice. The NFL has former players speak to teams during their bye weeks. Irvin played in college at the University of Miami with Chudzinski.
"His resume is fantastic," Ray Horton said. "His speech was fantastic."
Horton said he was a teammate of Irvin's in the NFL.
Irvin said the Browns have the right coaches running the Browns offense with Chudzinski and Turner.
Bye, Bye: Most of the players were getting out of the locker room and into their cars like kids on the last of school. The Browns are off Thursday through Sunday and return for practice on Monday.