Fans Shouldn’t Replace Jerome Harrison Just Yet

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.

  • MacNip

    My biggest fear is that the Browns are going to have to cut one of their RBs (most likely Davis) and he is going to turn into a stud. Their depth at the position this year is amazing

  • Gbwoy

    Agree. Preseason numbers don’t mean anything anyway. No reason to switch things up at RB just yet.

    Besides, if preseason numbers actually do mean anything to anybody, it is the defense we should all be worried about. I am not yet, but if there is anything I am taking away fro mthe preseason, that is it.

  • Vengeful Pat

    I am not concerned with the lack of production from Harrison… I think you need to see a few regular season games to decide that. I am more worried about his new penchant for putting the ball on the deck. I’ll feel much more confident if he can make it through the game against the Bears without fumbling… until then, just mark me down as “uneasy” about him starting, rather than “clamoring for a change.”

  • RimDawg

    Yeah, I completely agree Craig about Browns fans ruining players. I hope Holmgren can shield McCoy for a season from the their wrath. Thanks for keeping Browns fans in check.

    I see Hillis, Hardesty and Harrison (Triple H) as three different kinds of running backs that Mangini will use at his discretion depending on who the Browns face. Hillis can pound on smaller Ds while Harrison will make big slow LBs miss. Hardesty will be the all-purpose back. I see Jennings getting cut and Davis sticking around as the viable backup. I don’t see a reason to keep 6 backs (including Vickers).

  • Sean

    I know what you mean about the Browns’ fans panicky, ready-to-kick-a-player-to-the-curb-over-nothing mentality… and I don’t want to be one of those people. That said, I don’t think the problem is that Harrison has fumbled a couple times or that he hasn’t gained as much yardage as we’d like to see. I think it’s something else.

    Has anyone else noticed that Harrison has suddenly turned into Jamal Lewis this year? What’s with all the stutter-stepping suddenly? In the past, Harrison seemed to be primarily a north-south runner, and over these last couple preseason games, he is, out of nowhere, Mr. Dance and Juke. I, for one, get tired quickly of these backs that think they’ll make everyone miss by trying to switch direction every .003 seconds- and meanwhile, they get clobbered after a 2 yard gain.

    There’s no reason to demote Harrison based on any of this. But how ’bout maybe demoting him based on the fact that Hillis just plain seems more capable of gaining yards?

    And as for the guy above who worries about James Davis getting cut, have you seen Chris Jennings this year? Man, does that guy suck. There’s no WAY they’re keeping Jennings and letting Davis go. Now Davis *is* a guy who can dance and cut and actually make guys miss. Harrison, IMO, doesn’t seem to be quite fast enough to do that consistently.

    Call me crazy. but if it were up to me, the depth chart for RB would go:

    1. Hillis
    2. Davis
    3. Harrison

    Of course, what do I know? Only that I was screaming at the Browns coaching staff (through the TV, of course) to let Harrison play much earlier than he did last year, but the Browns seem to have some warped sense that loyalty matters more than production, as in “We told Lewis he’s the starter, so we’ll live with his 1.5 yd average. It doesn’t matter that we have another back who can gain 3.8 or 4 yds on average– we already gave the starting job to Lewis.” Then Lewis gets hurt with 4 games to go—- and guess which team suddenly goes from worst to first in rushing over the last 4 games of the season? That never would have happened if Lewis hadn’t gotten hurt…. never mind the fact that the Browns knew they had a more capable RB sitting on the sidelines.

    Screw depth charts, screw loyalty— put the player in who has the most potential to move the TEAM.

  • Chris

    “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?

    The only one of this group who did anything after he left was Garcia. It’s the fan’s fault these guys are all stiffs?

  • MrCleaveland

    Harrison was one of Jim Brown’s projects last year. Don’t know what that means, if anything.

  • Tron

    “getting it going” in limited time on the field doesn’t concern me, holding onto the ball, now that’s a problem. I realize the one game was in “poor” conditions, but honestly Cleveland will be playing quite a few games in bad weather. I’m not clammoring for Harrison to take a seat, I am however man-crushing hard on Hillis. I want to see that guy get more carries.

  • C-Bus Kevin

    Hillis + Vickers = Happy

  • ben

    I think we should cut Harrison and resign Derek Anderson b/c Colt is “captain checkdown” and DA’s big arm will open up the running game for Hillis and Hardestay.

  • crobarred

    Hardesty hasn’t even touched the ball yet. My opinion would be to put him on the PUP list for the first six games and run with Harrison, Hillis and Davis in that order. Jennings would be the odd man out. I can’t see putting your second round draft pick into a regular season game without even knowing how his knees will hold up. He’s had knee issues throughout his college career. PUP him and let him heal up. That way he’d be better ready for the grind at the end of the season.

  • oribiasi

    They better cut Jennings before they cut Hillis/Harrison/Davis/any other RB.

    Looking forward to Hardesty/Hillis ripping through everyone and Harrison running circles around the dazed defenses we face.

  • bobby

    Wow… there are some crazy things that I just read. Everyone here is way too obsessed with these preseason games. Have i sat down and watched all 3? Yes. Do i think that they really mean anything for the regular season? No. I’d almost be willing to bet that the D steps it up come the regular season and the passing game is non existent. James Davis has not been able to play in the regular season. He has only played here against 3rd teamers. Who would think in their right mind that Davis would be better then Harrison? Let the numbers speak for themselves. A guy just doesnt forget how to run after getting 561 in 3 games.

    Btw- Doubt Harrison plays this week, and if he does its gonna be 1 drive.

  • mgbode

    Check Harrison’s YPC on those last 3 games. Not good outside the KC game.

    He proved he can carry the ball 20+ times a game or more if needed.
    He proved he can churn out some yards even when the defense doesn’t have to respect the pass at all.

  • Hamfist

    As a fan, I agree with the statement that we are WAY to quick to pull the trigger on benching somenone.

    We’re just SO desperate for any kind of winner that we miss sight of progress. I think Harrison will start, be featrued and give a lot of opportunities to either prove last year was the real deal or a flash in the pan. I would love to see it be the former. If it isn’t, we’re still good at running back. Color me content.

    A poster above said to put hardesty on the PUP. I’m both for and against this. Keeping him fresh for the latter part of the season is a smart move, but it costs him game time reps. Having watched him at Tennessee, I think he can be a very solid RB for us.

    Any way you slice it, we are looking solid and deep at RB.