1978 Cleveland Browns season
|1978 Cleveland Browns season|
|Head coach||Sam Rutigliano|
|Home field||Cleveland Municipal Stadium|
|Division place||3rd AFC Central|
|Playoff finish||did not qualify|
The 1978 Cleveland Browns season was the team's 29th season with the National Football League (NFL). After nearly three years of struggling offensively – and not making the playoffs—while posting just one winning record under ultra-strict, disciplinarian head coach Forrest Gregg, the Browns in 1978 decided to take a softer approach to liven up their attack – and their team. They did so by hiring a virtually unknown assistant at the time, New Orleans Saints receivers coach Sam Rutigliano, to replace Gregg, who was fired with one game left in the 1977 season. Rutigliano was the fourth head coach hired by Art Modell in his 18 years as club owner to that point, and it marked the first time Modell had not promoted from within the organization to fill the spot.
Although it took a while for things to develop, the idea of bringing in someone from the outside nonetheless worked. With Rutigliano, who was as progressive, innovative and forward-thinking of an offensive mind as there was in the game at the time, running the show, the once-stagnant Browns attack scored 30 or more points four times in eight games in the second half of that season. More importantly, Rutigliano was able to jump-start the career of embattled quarterback Brian Sipe, which would pay huge dividends for the team two years later when he won the NFL MVP award and led the Browns to the AFC Central title. He finished with 21 touchdown passes and 15 interceptions in 1978 for a quarterback rating of 80.7, by far his best numbers in his five seasons with the Browns.
The Browns started well, winning their first three games over the San Francisco 49ers (24–7), Cincinnati Bengals (13–10 in overtime) and Atlanta Falcons (24–16). They then stood 4–2 after beating the Saints 24–16 three games later.
But in the process of the Browns offense getting revved up, the defense soon started to come unglued. Yes, the Browns were scoring a lot of points in those final eight games, but they were giving up a lot, too. In fact, they surrendered 34 or more points in three successive games at the very end of the year. The end result was an 8–8 finish in which the Browns were outscored by 22 points overall, 356 to 334, in the first year that the NFL expanded from a 14- to a 16-game regular season. The Browns top draft choice that year, future Hall of Fame TE Ozzie Newsome, fresh off of a NCAA National Championship with Paul "Bear" Bryant's Alabama Crimson Tide team, had a solid rookie season, snaring 38 passes for 589 yards and two TDs.
The following were selected in the 1978 NFL draft.
|1||23||Ozzie Newsome||Tight end||Alabama|
|2||39||Johnny Evans||Punter||North Carolina State|
|3||67||Larry Collins||Running back||Texas A&I|
|3||68||Mark Miller||Quarterback||Bowling Green|
|4||103||Pete Pullara||Offensive Guard||Tennessee-Chattanooga|
|5||122||Keith Wright||Wide receiver||Memphis St.|
|6||149||Al Pitts||Center||Michigan State|
|8||205||Jesse Turnbow||Defensive tackle||Tennessee|
|10||261||Brent Watson||Offensive tackle||Tennessee|
|11||290||Larry Gillard||Defensive tackle||Mississippi State|
|12||317||Leo Biedermann||Offensive tackle||California|
|1978 Cleveland Browns staff|
Special teams coaches
|1978 Cleveland Browns roster|
|1||September 3, 1978||San Francisco 49ers||W 24–7||
|2||September 10, 1978||Cincinnati Bengals||W 13–10||
|3||September 17, 1978||at Atlanta Falcons||W 24–16||
|4||September 24, 1978||at Pittsburgh Steelers||L 15–9||
|5||October 1, 1978||Houston Oilers||L 16–13||
|6||October 8, 1978||at New Orleans Saints||W 24–16||
|7||October 15, 1978||Pittsburgh Steelers||L 34–14||
|8||October 22, 1978||at Kansas City Chiefs||L 17–3||
|9||October 29, 1978||Buffalo Bills||W 41–20||
|10||November 5, 1978||at Houston Oilers||L 14–10||
|11||November 12, 1978||Denver Broncos||L 19–7||
|12||November 19, 1978||at Baltimore Colts||W 45–24||
|13||November 26, 1978||Los Angeles Rams||W 30–19||
|14||December 3, 1978||at Seattle Seahawks||L 47–24||
|15||December 10, 1978||New York Jets||W 37–34||
|16||December 17, 1978||at Cincinnati Bengals||L 48–16||
- "1978 NFL Draft Listing – Pro-Football-Reference.com". Archived from the original on 2009-07-25. Retrieved 2009-07-23.
- "1978 Cleveland Browns starters and roster". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved November 11, 2014.