Let’s not call this article criticism as much as it is a “reporting of findings” combined with a dose of self-awareness. It would only be criticism if I called people names or questioned their overall intelligence. I think I have praised the Browns overall enough this season that I can point a few things out that they have decidedly gotten wrong without coming off like a basher or the dreaded “hater.”
It is totally impossible for any NFL front office in the modern age to be right all the time. Even the mostly infallible organizations like Indianapolis with Bill Polian and the Patriots with Bill Belichick miss on occasion. Still, those guys are so good now that almost nobody will criticize a draft pick, regardless of Mel Kiper’s board. I think the Browns have gotten more right than wrong since Holmgren and Heckert have joined the organization, but they have missed some things too that are currently hurting the Browns on Sunday.
This is an obvious one, but the Browns seriously misjudged the wide receiver spot. A year ago, I was telling everyone that it was way too early to call Brian Robiskie a bust. Now that we are over halfway through his second year as a pro, I still feel that way… Last year at this time, it was too early to call Brian Robiskie a bust.
This year however, I am confident in saying that despite having good hands, Brian Robiskie lacks something (speed? awareness?) needed to play wide receiver in the NFL. Chansi Stuckey, despite the fumble this week against the Jets, is far and away a better receiver than Robiskie. It is obvious, and we are talking about a 27 year-old player who was taken in the 7th round of the 2007 NFL draft.
That is a bit of a breakdown somewhere between the front office and potentially even the coaching staff who might have decided the Browns were good to go into this season with the current receiving corps. I believe Heckert was on record saying the Browns were “good” at wide receiver. I don’t know exactly who the Browns should have added, but I can honestly say they would have been better off sending Brian Robiskie the way of David Veikune and keeping 37 year-old Bobby Engram on this roster to help them this season.
Although it hasn’t killed them yet, running back is another position that has been an utter mess this season after Peyton Hillis. I know on paper it isn’t painful because Jerome Harrison hasn’t done anything in Philly yet, but you will never be able to tell me that trading him for Mike Bell was worthwhile. (Author’s note: Believe it or not, I wrote this yesterday before Harrison went off for a 50 yard touchdown run for the Eagles.) I know Jerome Harrison was moody and had problems with self-confidence, but he just never seemed to have the same kind of irreconcilable differences that Braylon Edwards or Kellen Winslow had. Now that the offensive line is blocking like crazy, I refuse to believe that Jerome Harrison couldn’t be exploiting some defenses. Well, at least moreso than Mike Bell has thus far. And just because it hasn’t killed them doesn’t mean that it isn’t a mess.
Now, don’t read into this that I think the Browns front office stinks. Still, it is worthwhile as we notice these things to point them out. The Browns will have to find ways to address some of these things this off-season as well as some others like the aging defensive line, Abram Elam’s spot, and potentially (gulp!) Phil Dawson.
They say always to end on the positive notes though, right? Well, overall, I am elated with the new front office. Colt McCoy, Joe Haden, and T.J. Ward help ensure that. Combined with the contributions of Scott Fujita and Chris Gocong and the prospects of Shawn Luvao, and it is easy to forget some other failures. Failures like Tony Pashos… Oh wait. I said a positive note…