Yesterday the Browns’ all-pro weapon Joshua Cribbs was on the Jim Rome show representing the Browns and getting some “Jungle Karma” for the Browns as they head into Tampa. The show can be heard daily in Cleveland on ESPN 850 WKNR (if you didn’t know.) As we head into another year of NFL football in Cleveland Cribbs’ appearance on the show is a stark reminder of the lack of recognizable name talent that the Browns have in their organization today. Obviously this isn’t to say that I would want Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow back. Still, unless Joe Thomas wanted to call in to the show, or they wanted to talk to Jake Delhomme, is there anyone else on this Browns team who you could imagine being a guest on the Jim Rome show? Me either. It was a nice interview and there were a couple things of note for Browns fans.
When asked about what his role would be this year, Josh told us all the things we already knew about him having additional responsibilities at wide receiver. Mangini is considering Josh Cribbs a real wide receiver, not necessarily as just a guy running reverses. We did learn one thing new. This year, Josh Cribbs won’t be covering special teams plays (kicks and punts) as a first string gunner. According to Cribbs, Eric Mangini has placed him as a backup gunner this season. While I understand the reasoning behind a move like that, and while it might be the best for Cribbs and the team overall it drastically changes the cover teams. Many outside of Cleveland forget just how good Cribbs is / was at streaking down the field and getting opposing runners by the ankle even before they got to make their first move. In the interview, Cribbs told Rome that he will definitely miss the opportunity to “return the favor” to all those who are sprinting after him 100 miles per hour trying to take his head off on his returns.
This was one of the major problems when Devin Hester converted to being a wide receiver after being such a great return man. Hester didn’t necessarily thrive on coverage the way Cribbs has. When Hester had to give up something in order to be on the field for all the offensive snaps, he gave up returns almost altogether. In the case of Josh Cribbs, he will still be returning kicks and just has to give up the coverage units. Also, as we have seen the past few years, Josh Cribbs relishes the opportunity to blow up defenders blocking in the running game. I can still see him sprinting in from the wideout position looking to seal a linebacker or creeping safety so that a runner can find the corner on the outside. Josh made it apparent to Jim Rome that his blocking would also be a big part of his game this year. Rome invoked the name of Hines Ward, but I hope Cribbs can keep himself from being dirty.
On Jake Delhomme, Cribbs was asked about the attempted beheading of the QB by Detroit d-lineman Ndamukong Suh. ”The guys did not see it. When he got hit like that, we were talking in the huddle. That will never happen again. That was only because the guys did not see what was going on. Best believe the whole team has his (Delhomme’s) back to the fullest.” Even if Josh Cribbs was covering for some teammates, it seems pretty apparent to me that the Browns probably won’t be caught off-guard again should some opposing player take a cheap shot at one of their guys. Call it the heat of the moment or whatever, but the Browns won’t have good chemistry for long if they don’t have each others’ backs in a situation like that should it arise again.
Josh got to talking about his contract situation. This is where Josh Cribbs always makes himself beloved in Cleveland. He doesn’t appear to say things about the city the way that a rock band or a WWE wrestler would in order to get a cheap pop in the arena. When Josh talks about Cleveland he really sounds genuine, like a lifer. Rome asked Josh how important it was for him to spend his career here in Cleveland. Josh immediately talked about how Browns fans are some of the best, if not the best, fans in the league. On top of that, as opposed to Manny Acta proclaiming that nobody takes losing harder than the team does, Josh pointed out that the Browns notice that their fans are die-hards even when the team isn’t doing well.
Finally, being a national radio host, Jim Rome broached the topic of LeBron and whether his departure opens up any opportunities for Josh Cribbs to be “the guy” for Cleveland fans. And this is where Josh Cribbs shined the most in the interview. He said that he does think Cleveland fans are looking for someone to fill that void. He then went on to urge fans not to select him, or pick that one guy. ”The city of Cleveland is more than just one person. And it’s more than just one team… Wins heal everything and if we could just win something they’ll love us forever.”
P.S. I hope it just isn’t Cribbs’ infectious energy talking, but he said he “can’t wait” to show everyone the package of plays that the Browns have with he and Seneca Wallace.