Waiting For Next Year, Again
Some paraphrased moments taken between 9:00 and 11:30am on WRUW-FM 91.1 Cleveland, Monday morning, September 16th, 2013 in the year of our Browns…
“I’m saying right now, no way Weeden is ‘the guy’…how can you trust a quarterback when his own team doesn’t even trust him enough to call audibles…no matter what happens the rest the season, expect the carousel at quarterback here to continue…at this point with Weeden hurt, I’d rather see Hoyer over Campbell…”
“Greg Little, the only thing that’s possibly worse than his hands is his route running.”
“You’re going to have to face facts, Trent Richardson in no way looks anything like a top tier back…that 3rd overall pick for him is looking like a really bad choice…he’s 2006 selected #2 overall Reggie Bush all over again; good back, but way over-selected and no where near the level of an elite NFL running back…no chance he’s the cornerstone of this franchise going forward…”
And but two days later Hoyer is starting, Greg Little is benched and T-Rich is traded.
Wow. And here I left the show on Monday feeling I might have overreacted some.
Obviously the remarks about Weeden to some fans sounded overdue, and the Little comment was something said by this show in varying degrees of abject frustration in each of the 3 years of his being in the league. But the T-Rich comments, those signaled a true shift in this show’s attitude towards him.
At the beginning of the year the hope was he would be the difference between another 4-5 win season for the Browns, and that of possibly a 7-8 win season. This kind of greatness was not being hoped or expected of him from based on what we had seen year 1, it was more centered from how high he was drafted and how he would seemingly fit well into a Norv Turner led system that’s featured a few Hall of Fame backs in the past. The paradigm shift happened, however, after watching two games of Trent seeing limited action, and more importantly, not even being in the lineup on 3rd down plays. Both huge warnings something was amiss.
Which brings us to the rather stunning news of his being traded. 17 games into his career, only 2 games under new management, and now, gone. As ESPN.com pointed out, since the 1970 merger, Richardson’s trade to the Colts marks only the 2nd time a top 3 selection has been traded away the following year. So take comfort, no one was expecting this. Even Adam Schefter who broke this story said it felt surreal when he was first informed. This simply doesn’t happen. And yet, it has. So let’s react, shall we.
“This is a bold move by the Browns!”
A lot of fans and pundits seem to have greeted this move as being better for all involved moving forward. Clearly the Colts had no one at running back, so for them it looks to improve them both now and for the future. What’s also clear is that this Browns front office and coaching staff were not at all committed to Richardson like those who drafted him were. Banner and Lombardi in the offseason even eluded to the fact that both Weeden and Richardson were picks they wouldn’t have chosen. Seeing as how Richardson rather surprisingly was far from being leaned on so far this season as had been anticipated, and who wasn’t even in on 3rd downs where the Browns are currently the worst team in the league at converting 3rd downs into 1st downs (where they’re succeeding woefully only 17.2% of the time), it’s pretty telling that this “cornerstone” of the franchise who was widely seen as the team’s best offensive threat, yet isn’t even out on the field on 3rd downs, surely wasn’t apart of any significant plans in the now, or the future.
The big thing this show was saying about Richardson in watching him relegated to that of average NFL running back role, was not that he was a bad back, but rather, at #3 overall, he was a bad pick. And that’s what you’re really upset about if you’re a Browns fan pissed off the team let T-Rich go. Not that they just let an incredible talent somehow leave the building, but rather it confirms your fears from day one that this guy was yet another blown high draft pick by a Browns franchise all too well known for failing this way.1 At this point, thinking you can find what Richardson was bringing to the table somewhere in the 3rd to 4th round, is very believable, and bottom line, you just received a 1st round pick for him.
Easing your justified concerns with this team’s draft record the last 15 years might be a hard sell considering this move now makes it clear the Browns are all-in in finding in the draft the answer(s) needed to reshape this offense. There’s nothing quite like failing at the draft time and time again and then on top of it all, selling off what’s already been chosen poorly to only create more chances to choose again. Seems bleak, sure, but getting a 1st round pick, one that will likely fall somewhere between the 15th and 25th overall, is an incredible good return. It’s also why the Browns jumped so quickly at this deal. Who would have thought at this point Richardson, with health concerns and looking far from spectacular, could be worth another team’s 1st round pick? 3rd round pick, yeah. Maybe even a 2nd, but a 1st? That’s pretty unbelievable, and it now gives this team multiple 1st, 3rd and 4th round picks next year. Granted we have officially begun the wait for next year routine and we’re doing it only two weeks into a season, which sucks, but getting the offer they got from the Colts is one I don’t think you pass up when it’s for a guy who clearly wasn’t impressing anyone making the decisions these days for the Browns.
Fact is, forget the running back position for a moment, this team needs a quarterback first and foremost, and another 1st round pick added to what clearly is now looking like their own potential top 5 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, in a projected QB rich draft class, is a solid move. It’s also a move that I think the Browns would have jumped at much earlier than Week 3 if it had been on the table. They’ve rebuilt their defense this past offseason and look to be a player or two in the secondary away from being one of the best units in the game, and now they’ll have an offseason to try to do the same for the offense. Granted, finding a quality quarterback around here has been more elusive than discovering cold fusion, but you have to like their chances more than you do in thinking Trent Richardson is all of a sudden going to turn into the second coming of Emmitt Smith.
“This team just took a huge watery shit on Browns season ticket holders!”
Pretty much, yep. If you are a season ticket holder though, you have to understand one thing, you’re the most expendable part of the NFL. Sure they like to make you think you are important, but that’s just what big business does. They tell you what you want to hear to get you in the door and then you hear them mumble “fucking, dope” as that same door hits you in the ass on the way out. In the end, going to NFL games sees you as nothing more than a studio audience who pays to be there. Period. The deal is clear too, and the NFL knows you’ll be back filling up their stadiums no matter how disgruntled or upset you might be as long as there’s winning, and in Cleveland, where you’ve proven time and time again you’ll come back even without the winning, you continue to drive this point further home every time you buy tickets.
Sorry if this is news to you, but you should really try watching these games from home. It’s totally better, it’s indoors, there’s replays, there’s DVR for you to create even more replays, contrary to Cleveland there’s at least 20 other teams out there any given Sunday who play what actually looks like real legitimate professional football, the NFL has even said the in-game experience is trying to compete with your couch, there’s better drinks, better food, it’s way cheaper, and what may be the best part of all, unless you invite them in, you don’t have to sit next to some plastered since 8am outer-rim moron reeking of cheap beer and urine and wearing a dog mask to hide their shame while preening for a camera every time one passes by, who otherwise, is just there to shout gross obscenities whenever something bad happens. Which around here, something bad happening can be expected from the point of kickoff through to the final whistle. If you are one of these foolishly loud masked dip shits, know that paying good money to sit anywhere in the blast radius of your overwrought act of look-at-me stupidity, absolutely sucks. You’re like ‘Jersey Shore’, no one wants to be next to the train wreck, but from a safe distance you do make for entertaining television.
“What does the future hold…?”
Uncertainty. As always. And as much as I just said the game is better on TV, the very real aspect of a few games being blacked out is now in play too. What I like about this most recent version of waiting for next year though is that the Browns will head into the offseason well equipped with draft picks and options. Even though we won’t really know how good this trade plays out to be for another 2-3 years, I do like how this regime seems to have a game plan and even if it’s unpopular among some fans, they aren’t afraid to stick to it. This approach is surely more welcome than that season wasted under Holmgren when he kept Mangini around 12 months too long by wasting another year before finally hitting the reboot button.
It will all come down to draft picks and getting them right, however, and most importantly, they need to find the right guy to helm the duties behind center. As much as fans are leery of Lombardi and Banner coming out of the 2013 Draft, you have to admit now that the moves of trading 4th and 5th round picks for a 3rd and 4th rounder in the 2014 Draft, instantly makes a lot more sense. This is all wait and see at the moment, but no matter how you look at it, taking your chances next year with new players, with room left under the cap and a bunch of draft picks, seems the wiser move over that of going forward any further with a 30 year old second year quarterback with no future and a running back that looks to be nothing more than average.
“But what about Greg Little?”
Anybody want him for a 7th round pick? I’m betting the Browns take that call.
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- Which for the record, this show was adamant drafting him, or any running back, 3rd overall, was/is a mistake. This isn’t a fantasy league, it’s the NFL, and the two are worlds apart from the equivalent value of a running back in today’s game. This was said and written multiple times leading up to the 2012 Draft, and following it. Sure, the hopes were that Heckert and company saw something I didn’t and that I like so many others would be happily proven wrong, that T-Rich was an elite back and worthy of such a high pick, however, that doesn’t look like it’s ever going to end up to be the case. Which means, appearing right at times, even after the fact, isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. [↩]
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