History

Year by Year Results: 1991

After finishing with a franchise-worst 3-13 record the year before, ending five straight seasons of success, the Browns were hoping for a reversal of fortunes in 1991.

So to help facilitate the possibility of that occurring, they decided to reverse the way they did things.

As such, they brought in as head coach Bill Belichick, a young -- he was 38 when he was hired -- tough-minded, no-nonsense disciplinarian. He followed Bud Carson, an older -- he was 59 when he was fired midway through 1990 -- more easy-going man. After Carson was let go, Jim Shofner, who has a similar personality, served as the interim head coach.

Carson got the job in 1989 because he was considered a defensive genius who, the Browns believed, could devise a way to stop quarterback John Elway. He and his Denver Broncos had thwarted the club in the 1986 and '87 AFC Championship Games.

The Browns actually went 2-1 against the Broncos while Carson was coach, defeating them in the 1989 and '90 regular seasons. But in the most important meeting -- the 1989 AFC title game -- the Broncos won easier than they had in '86 and '87, 37-21.

Belichick was considered a defensive genius, too, and he was coming off his resume-making game. As defensive coordinator, he helped guide the underdog New York Giants to a 20-19 win over the explosive Buffalo Bills in the Super Bowl following the 1990 season. He was also the coordinator when the Giants routed the Broncos 39-20 in the Super Bowl after the 1986 campaign.

With the Browns having surrendered a franchise-record 462 points in 1990, their defense needed to make the biggest reversal of fortunes of any unit on the team. To help with that effort, University of Toledo head coach Nick Saban, a former player and assistant coach at Kent State and a one-time assistant at Ohio State, was hired as defensive coordinator.

****The defense did indeed get a lot better, giving up 298 points, or 164 less than it had in 1990. That's a drop of 10.3 a game, which is obviously substantial.

The defense, in fact, kept the Browns in every game except one, an early-season 42-17 loss to the eventual Super Bowl champion Washington Redskins.

Along with that, the offense was changed dramatically as well. Gone was the free-wheeling, pass-happy approach that had been used from 1986-90, and in its place was a real focus on eliminating turnovers by being more conservative in play-calling. Belichick hated turnovers almost as much as he did losing, for in his mind, turnovers were the biggest contributor to losing.

Just like the defense, the offense got better, and much more efficient. Whereas in 1990 the Browns fumbled 37 times and lost 23 of them, in '91 they coughed up the ball just 18 times and lost eight. In addition, the number of interceptions dropped from 23 to 10.

In all, the Browns committed 28 fewer turnovers, a staggering reduction.

The biggest benefactor of that was quarterback Bernie Kosar. Although no one remembers it because of the way the relationship between the two men would deteriorate so badly over the next two years, Belichick's approach made Kosar a much more efficient -- and, in some cases, better -- quarterback than he had been from 1988-90.

Kosar had a 2-to-1 ratio of touchdowns (18) to interceptions (nine) in 1991, with a 62.1 completion percentage and an 87.8 quarterback rating. He had thrown 10 TD passes with 15 picks, with a 54.4 completion percentage and a 65.7 rating, in 1990

When the new philosophies on offense and defense were added together, the Browns, as mentioned, were competitive throughout the season. They doubled their number of wins from 1990 in finishing 6-10, but it could have been much better because six of those defeats came by four points or less, and seven were by seven points or fewer. There was a stretch in the second half of the season when the Browns lost three games by a combined total of just eight points.

In fact, the Browns were hanging in the wild-card playoff race with a 6-7 record late in the year, but three straight losses, two of which came by a combined total of just 10 points, knocked them out of contention. To show how much the defense had improved, the Browns surrendered 17 points in each of those games. In the final half of 1990, the Browns gave up 33.6 points per contest.

The Browns posted two shutouts -- 20-0 over the New England Patriots and 31-0 over the Indianapolis Colts -- for the first time in a season since 1983. And they were not shut out once after having been blanked three times in 1990.

Kevin Mack rushed for a team-leading 726 yards, his highest total since 1985, when he had 1,104.

And wide receiver Webster Slaughter had what would turn out to be his second-most productive season with the Browns, catching 64 passes for 906 yards.

So while the Browns missed the playoffs for a second straight year for the first time since 1983-84, the feeling heading into the offseason was much more optimistic than it had been the previous year. Now, at least, the team had a firm foundation on which to continue its rebuilding.

It wasn't a complete reversal of fortunes, but it was a good start.

Steve King,
Staff Writer

Year Results
Preseason Results
National Football League: 2-2
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (64,753) 10-23
New York Giants (54,445) 16-10
at Washington Redskins (51,137) (OT) 24-21
at Minnesota Vikings (45,925) 7-31
Regular Season Results
  Regular Season Playoffs Combined Record
League W L T PCT W L T PCT W L T PCT
NFL 6 10 0 .375 0 0 0 .000 6 10 0 .375
Date Result Opponent Att.
1-Sep L14-26 Dallas Cowboys 78,860
8-Sep W20-0 at New England Patriots 35,377
15-Sep W14-13 Cincinnati Bengals 78,269
22-Sep L10-13 at New York Giants 75,891
6-Oct L14-17 New York Jets 71,042
13-Oct L17-42 at Washington Redskins 54,715
20-Oct W30-24 at San Diego Chargers (OT) 48,440
27-Oct W17-14 Pittsburgh Steelers 78,285
3-Nov L21-23 at Cincinnati Bengals 55,077
10-Nov L30-32 Philadelphia Eagles 72,086
17-Nov L24-28 at Houston Oilers 58,155
24-Nov W20-15 Kansas City Chiefs 63,991
1-Dec W31-0 at Indianapolis Colts 57,539
8-Dec L7-17 Denver Broncos 73,539
15-Dec L14-17 Houston Oilers 55,680
22-Dec L10-17 at Pittsburgh Steelers 47,070
Score By Periods
1st 2nd 3rd 4th OT Tot.
Browns 57 105 77 48 6 --- 293
Opponents 25 113 51 109 0 --- 298
Team Statistics
Browns Opponent
Team Statistics Browns Opponent
Total First Downs 265 298
Rushing 82 100
Passing 163 179
Penalty 20 19
3rd Down: Made/Att 74/199 97/215
3rd Down Pct. 37.20% 45.10%
4th Down: Made/Att 9/20 9/17
4th Down Pct. 45.00% 52.90%
Total Net Yards 4,664 5,084
Avg. Per Game 291.5 317.8
Total Plays 934 1,004
Avg. Per Play 5 5.1
Net Yards Rushing 1,360 1,875
Avg. Per Game 85 117.2
Total Rushes 389 447
Net Yards Passing 3,304 3,209
Avg. Per Game 206.5 200.6
Sacked/Yards Lost 42/243 35/236
Gross Yards 3,547 3,445
Attempts/Completions 503/312 522/312
Completion Pct. 62.00% 59.80%
Had Intercepted 10 15
Punts/Avg. 80/42.5 61/41.3
Net Punting Avg. 80/37.6 61/37.2
Penalties/Yards Lost 108/872 103/770
Fumbles/Ball Lost 18/8 33/18
Scoring
Ru Pa St Df PAT 2Ru 2Pa FG Saf TP
Stover, Matt 0 0 0 0 33/34 0 0 16/22 0 81
Hoard, Leroy 2 9 0 0 0/0 0 0 0/0 0 66
Mack, Kevin 8 2 0 0 0/0 0 0 0/0 0 60
Slaughter, Webster 0 3 0 0 0/0 0 0 0/0 0 18
Langhorne, Reggie 0 2 0 0 0/0 0 0 0/0 0 12
Morris, Joe 2 0 0 0 0/0 0 0 0/0 0 12
Jackson, Michael 0 2 0 0 0/0 0 0 0/0 0 12
Jones, James 0 0 0 1 0/0 0 0 0/0 1 8
Brennan, Brian 0 1 0 0 0/0 0 0 0/0 0 6
Brandon, David 0 0 0 1 0/0 0 0 0/0 0 6
Turner, Eric 0 0 0 1 0/0 0 0 0/0 0 6
Newsome, Vince 0 0 0 1 0/0 0 0 0/0 0 6
Browns 12 19 0 4 33/34 0 0 16/22 1 293
Opponents 12 20 0 1 32/33 0 0 22/30 1 298
Rushing
No Yds Avg LG TD
Mack, Kevin 197 726 3.7 51t 8
Morris, Joe 93 289 3.1 15 2
Hoard, Leroy 37 154 4.2 52 2
Metcalf, Eric 30 107 3.6 15 0
Kosar, Bernie 26 74 2.8 14 0
Rouson, Lee 3 14 4.7 9 0
Hansen, Brian 2 -3 -1.5 0 0
Philcox, Todd 1 -1 -1 -1 0
Browns 389 1,360 3.5 52 12
Opponents 447 1,875 4.2 65t 12
Receiving
No Yds Avg LG TD
Slaughter, Webster 64 906 14.2 62t 3
Hoard, Leroy 48 567 11.8 71t 9
Mack, Kevin 40 255 6.4 22 2
Langhorne, Reggie 39 505 12.9 40t 2
Brennan, Brian 31 325 10.5 30 1
Metcalf, Eric 29 294 10.1 45 0
Galbraith, Scott 27 328 12.1 42 0
Jackson, Michael 17 268 15.8 65t 2
Morris, Joe 13 76 5.8 13 0
Rouson, Lee 2 9 4.5 6 0
Talley, John 1 13 13 13 0
Kosar, Bernie 1 1 1 1 0
Browns 312 3,547 11.4 71t 19
Opponents 312 3,445 11 70t 20
Interceptions
No Yds Avg LG TD
Braggs, Stephen 3 15 5 15 0
Brandon, David 2 70 35 40 1
Turner, Eric 2 42 21 42t 1
Matthews, Clay 1 35 35 35 0
Newsome, Vince 1 31 31 31 0
Jones, James 1 20 20 20t 1
Brown, Richard 1 19 19 19 0
Hilliard, Randy 1 19 19 19 0
Figaro, Cedric 1 9 9 9 0
Johnson, Mike 1 0 0 0 0
Jackson, Alfred 1 0 0 0 0
Browns 15 260 17.3 42t 3
Opponents 10 95 9.5 57t 1
Punting
No Yds Avg In20 TB LG BLK
Hansen, Brian 80 3,397 42.5 20 6 65 0
Browns 80 3,397 42.5 20 6 65 0
Opponents 61 2,520 41.3 16 6 61 0
Punt Returns
No FC Yds Avg LG TD
Slaughter, Webster 17 3 112 6.6 17 0
Metcalf, Eric 12 1 100 8.3 30 0
Minnifield, Frank 0 0 28 0 28 0
Brennan, Brian 2 6 11 5.5 11 0
Stat, Team 0 0 0 0 31 0
Browns 31 10 251 8.1 31 0
40 15 388 9.7 48 0
Kickoff Returns
No Yds Avg LG TD
Metcalf, Eric 23 351 15.3 24 0
Morris, Joe 18 310 17.2 36 0
Peebles, Danny 8 149 18.6 32 0
James, Lynn 3 49 16.3 21 0
Galbraith, Scott 2 13 6.5 8 0
Browns 55 888 16.1 36 0
Opponents 50 1,022 20.4 47 0
Field Goals
1-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50+ Tot
Stover, Matt 1/2 2/3 8/9 3/6 2/2 16/22
Browns 1/2 2/3 8/9 3/6 2/2 16/22
Opponents 1/1 10/12 8/8 2/4 1/5 22/30
Passing
Att Cmp Yds Pct Av/At th th% Int Int% LG Tkld Rating
Kosar, Bernie 494 307 3,487 62.1 7.06 18 3.6 9 1.8 71t 41/232 87.8
Philcox, Todd 8 4 49 50 6.13 0 0 1 12.5 28 0/0 29.7
Hansen, Brian 1 1 11 100 11 1 100 0 0 11t 0/0 152.1
Metcalf, Eric 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1/11 39.6
Browns 503 312 3,547 62 7.05 19 3.8 10 2 71t 42/243 87.5
Opponents 522 312 3,445 59.8 6.6 20 3.8 15 2.9 70t 35/236 80.2