It’s hard to find something the Cleveland Browns don’t need some slight or major improvement at. Their running game was an absolute disaster last season, and they’re hoping that by adding Ben Tate and rookie Terrance West out of Towson things will be a lot better in 2014.
The Browns just got four touchdowns from their running backs last season, with Willis McGahee, 33 years of age, took over for the traded-to-the-Colts Trent Richardson to come up with a whopping 377 yards on 138 carries, averaging 2.7 yards per attempt. Richardson didn’t do much better with the Colts, but it was clear the Browns weren’t getting anything on the ground once they traded Richardson.
Ben Tate have a very good season individually with the awful Houston Texans, rushing for 771 yards on 181 carries, scoring four touchdowns. That wasn’t a career-best season for him, but he was the best of the Texans running back, and seemed ready to get a number 1 register from a certain team, not to mention getting paid like a premier back.
The Browns are hoping that their new zone blocking scheme will help them get the best out of an athletic group of play makers which includes Tate and the third-rounder West. So far we’ve been hearing the usual out of their camp: Sharing the load, running back by committee. The usual stuff. But it’s going to be very surprising if Tate isn’t going to emerge as the number running option, no matter how the Browns line up most of the time next season.
West was a record breaking running back for Towson between 2011-2013, scoring a total of 84 touchdowns, including 41 on his junior season. He set the FCS records for rushing yards in a single season (2509), touchdowns in a single season, touchdown record for a freshman (29) and becoming the all-time leading rusher for Towson. He can certainly carry a heavy workload, but often that kind of punishment in college means teams have to be careful with their players once they hit the pros.