What an awful season we just witnessed from the Cleveland Browns. Many people thought the year would go a little better than the 0-16 some experts projected. Especially because they almost won their very first game of the year against the Pittsburgh Steelers. But alas, game after game, another L was added to their record. They came so close to alluding infamy multiple times as six of their games were decided by a touchdown or less, and two of those games went into OT. However, despite the odds, the Browns became the second winless team of the Super Bowl era.
The other was the aforementioned 2008 Detroit Lions. The Lions had only four games in their winless season that were within a touchdown. The Browns and Lions are actually very comparable outside of their record. But who was the worst of the worst?
Terrible Quarterback numbers
The 2008 Detroit Lions played five different quarterbacks in 2008: Dan Orlovsky (10), Jon Kitna (4), Daunte Culpepper (5), Drew Stanton (3), Drew Henson (2). Orlovsky is remembered for possibly the worst play of all time when he ran out of the back of the endzone for a safety against the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings ended up winning the game by guess how much? Two points…
The Detroit Lions’ quarterbacks averaged 55% completions throughout the season and had under 3,000 yards passing. They had 18 touchdowns and 19 interceptions throughout the season, and ran the 27th ranked offense of the 2008 season. The quarterbacks were sacked 52 times during the year.
Meanwhile, the Browns played host to three different quarterbacks including rookie DeShone Kizer. Kizer had a rough outing in his first year with twice as many picks than touchdowns (11 TD, 22 INT). Kizer too threw for less than 3,000 yards, but with the help of other QBs they surpassed 3,500 yards. The Browns offensive line also struggled as their QBs were sacked 50 times.
The QB advantage would definitely go to Browns as they had at least a bit of consistency throughout the year starting DeShone Kizer 15 of their 16 games. The Lions were hopeless at QB before drafting Matthew Stafford with their first overall selection in 2009.
The overall awful offenses
Both of these offenses were arguably the worst of their respective seasons. In fact, the Browns’ offensive drives ended on a turnover 21% of the time. That means one out of every five possessions they would turn the ball over. The rest weren’t pretty either. The Browns’ rushing offense had over 1,000 yards with Duke Johnson and Isaiah Crowell running the ball, but they only put the ball in the endzone six times while fumbling five times. The receiving corp of the Browns may have been much better if they could have had Josh Gordon the whole season.
The Detroit Lions’ offense was eerily similar. Their best position players were rookie RB Kevin Jones, who had just under 1,000 yards rushing and 8 touchdowns, and Calvin Johnson who lead the team with 12 TDs and 1,330 receiving yards. The Lions had more weapons offensively then the Browns, and turned over the ball 5% less than the Browns. The advantage here goes to the Detroit Lions.
The difference maker in the argument
The real difference maker in this ultimate worst team argument is the defensive comparison. The Detroit Lions’ defense in 2008 was probably the worst defense of all time. They gave up nearly 6,500 yards of offense in that season, that averages out to over 400 yards of offense per game. They forced only 4 INT’s, and gave up 56 touchdowns allotting to almost 400 points. Their rush defense gave up 5 yards per rush. They were awful, terrible, atrocious and the Browns’ defense does not even compare.
In fact, the Browns defense was actually towards the top of the league. Their rushing defense gave up only 3.4 yards per carry which was good for second in the NFL. Their secondary was a different story. They only picked off QBs seven times during the year, and gave up 28 touchdowns. Overall the Browns defense wasn’t good, but it was much better than that of the Lions.
The worst of the worst?
Undoubtedly, the worst of the worst was the 2008 Detroit Lions. They were even more hopeless than the Browns were this season, and the Browns actually competed in a majority of their games. Sure this Browns’ team was the Brownsiest of all time, but it is not even close to the horrific performance that Lions had on display in 2008.