Second Cleveland Browns’ article of the day. Sorry. It’s the offseason, yada, yada. This will all clear out once the season starts.
With so much uncertainty at quarterback and youth at receiver, the Browns are going to rely on their run game for production. To play keep away, control the clock, and mask an underwhelming secondary. The two men in charge of that? Duke Johnson and Isaiah Crowell. Hue Jackson spoke about both to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Johnson was arguably underutilized his rookie year. A dynamic back, just like he was coming out of Miami. But the Browns seemed to get away from giving him the rock, though that’s in part to playing from behind so often. Jackson, in his first year, is hopeful to use him the way his talent demands.
“Duke Johnson was a draft pick a year ago who kind of burst onto the scene and had a ton of catches and made some unbelievable plays,” Jackson told the Plain Dealer. “So I’m looking forward to working with him. I think he’s very talented.”
Last season, Johnson ran for 379 yards and caught 61 balls for more than 500 yards.
Crowell was a different story. A talented back, someone who shows a burst, but was usually bottled up. Only a 3.8 per carry average and unlike Johnson, didn’t offer nearly as much as a receiver. Jackson seemed to call him out, challenge him, to step up in 2016.
“I think he has the characteristics of a back that can be a big-time runner but he needs to do it very consistently and kind of in the way that we want it done, so I think he’s up to the challenge.”
The Browns run game ranked 22nd in yards and 29th in touchdowns. Their average finished middle of the pack but that is largely due to Johnny Manziel’s free-lancing ways.
Their run game hasn’t had a 1000 yard rusher since 2010, Peyton Hillis’ 1177. And Hillis is also the last back to lead the Browns in rushing for consecutive seasons, spanning from 2010 to 2011. I’m sure they’re hoping a guy like Crowell can wipe out both those droughts while Johnson can keep adding juice to an offense that desperately needs it.