Admit it Browns fans. We sometimes get in our own way. Our passion and devotion to the team are unquestioned, but when it comes to personnel management, we don’t always know what we are talking about. Sure, when it comes to Ted Washington and Willie McGinest we might know a thing or two. Still, can anyone say that our involvement in the Derek Anderson vs. Brady Quinn battle helped the team at all? How about Charlie Frye, Tim Couch, Kelly Holcomb, Trent Dilfer, or Jeff Garcia? My point isn’t that we shouldn’t have opinions, but maybe we should be careful how seriously we take them. Remember that passion is no substitute for expertise. Then again, Phil Savage will tell you that foul emails are no substitute for leadership either.
I was just thinking over the weekend as Jerome Harrison put the ball on the ground and the Lions scored that running back is the new quarterback in Cleveland. The comments online immediately jumped to Montario Hardesty and how he would do better. Meanwhile, unless you are counting mileage on the Berea stationary bikes, what basis is there to say anything like that?
The Browns’ quarterback situation is settled for now which is a really nice feeling. Jake Delhomme can’t be the long-term solution because of his age, but at least for now, there is no controversy involving the Browns quarterback position. We were talking before the season about how nice that was to not have to think about it. Now do we have something brewing that resembles the Brady Quinn vs. Derek Anderson battle from 2008 only this time at the running back position?
Jerome Harrison came in last year after sitting behind Jamal Lewis and over the last three games of the season put up over 500 yards and 5 touchdowns for the Browns. It was a phenomenal run of games for a guy who previously had been buried on the bench because he reportedly couldn’t pick up a blitz. At 27 years of age, the Browns find a somewhat explosive guy with low mileage, capable of making guys miss. Yet, because they draft a guy in the second round all of a sudden a couple of pre-season games causes the sheen to come right off of Harrison.
Make no mistake, it hasn’t been a great pre-season for Harrison. Against Green Bay, Harrison carried 7 times for 25 yards and a touchdown. Against the Rams, Harrison carried 5 times for 13 yards. Finally, this past week at the Lions, Harrison carried 11 times for 34 yards and gave the Lions a score when he fumbled the ball. Browns fans, enamored by the guy they haven’t seen yet (Hardesty) and by their new junior Mike Alstott (Peyton Hillis) start clamoring for Harrison to sit. It is totally predictable.
No matter that running back is a position where repetitions sometimes increase the chances of success. No matter that sometimes a running back’s greatest impact happens in the second half after wearing a defense down over the course of the game. No matter that the Browns are still working out personnel groups on the right side of their offensive line while also working in a new veteran quarterback. “Pre-season production is all we need to make our decision, and Jerome Harrison isn’t getting it done!”
Lighten up Francis. There is another running back that has had a lackluster pre-season. He has rushed 5 times for 7 yards, 6 times for 22 yards, and 8 times for 10 yards so far this pre-season. He is rated the #1 fantasy football player in most every mock draft I have seen so far this year and his name is Chris Johnson. No, I am not telling you that Jerome Harrison is Chris Johnson. Far from it. At the same time, if a man as talented as Chris Johnson has trouble “getting it going” in such minimal appearances as the featured piece of Tennessee’s offense, it stands to reason that all hope is not lost for Jerome Harrison to do his part in contributing to the Browns this season.
In the NFL at running back depth is king. You need to have multiple options and for once in a very long long while it seems that the Browns have a few. Instead of clamoring for Montario Hardesty just embrace the fact that the Browns have options. Jerome Harrison is a solid option. Peyton “Thunder” Hillis is a great option to change the pace, pick up short yardage and catch the ball out of the backfield. Additionally, if the Browns need, they can try guys like Montario Hardesty, James Davis and potentially even Chris Jennings if he is still around by the time the season begins. The Browns would have difficulty finding time for all those guys, but there is no reason that they can’t use some combination of three of them in every single game this season. We don’t need to turn it into an “either/or” proposition like we did with the quarterbacks. On top of it all, remember that sometimes your passion clouds your ability to make well-reasoned personnel opinions.