April 23, 2014

Just 50 Carries in, Trent Richardson is a Leader in Cleveland

While Greg Little is preening and posing amidst a 14-point deficit and a shower of hashtags, Browns running back Trent Richardson stands mostly stoic and calculated. Certainly, when Richardson crosses the goal line — as he has three times in his very young career1 — he exudes a level of energy that is matched only by Cleveland fans watching the plays as they unfold. But until that moment when the ball crosses the goal line, Richardson, beneath that orange helmet with dreadlocks flowing, displays a workmanlike attitude previously unseen by his predecessors.

On an otherwise tough day in the trenches with Richardson managing to gain a mere 2.3 yards per carry, when the rookie back out of Alabama was finally able to turn a busted play into a six-yard touchdown, bouncing the play to his immediate left after running right into the backs of the men who were to create a hole just to the left of center Alex Mack, it was those very men whom Richardson tracked down, one by one, on the Browns sidelines following the play.

A seated Mack got a fist bump to the shoulder pads. Then came Shawn Lauvao and Jason Pinkston and Mitchell Schwartz. The final moment of gratitude was reserved for Joe Thomas. A group of men who have underachieved individually and as a unit, being appreciated by the man whom they have largely let down. Three games in, two of them underwhelming by statistical standards coupled with the fact that his team was entertaining their third-consecutive loss, but Trent Richardson is already becoming a leader on a team in dire need of such a role.

“We’ve got to keep fighting,” Richardson said following the loss. “You’ve got to keep trying to motivate the team and I’ve got to keep motivating myself. As far me stepping in the role of being a leader, I have to make sure I’m doing everything correctly at all times. And so yeah, we’re 0-3 but we have another game Thursday, so we’ve got to go right back to the drawing board and try and find a way to win, no matter what it takes.”

This is the same player who missed the bulk of the preseason following a minor knee operation. The first rookie selected in the most recent draft, a player who the Browns traded up to obtain, and one who was arguably the team’s most talented skill player before even stepping foot on to the field. Sitting on a shiny new contract and closets full of accolades acquired during his days as an amateur player, it would be easy for Richardson, a 22-year-old kid at the core, to waltz in to Berea with a sense of entitlement. But Richardson’s senses include everything but.

Having the desire to address his team prior to their game this past Sunday, Richardson took the steps he saw fit: he asked linebacker D’Qwell Jackson for permission. Like a child at the dinner table, the running back sought to obtain clearance prior to addressing his elders.

Meanwhile, the coaching staff is faced with the peacocking of a wide receiver who has seemingly done everything but receive. While Brandon Weeden’s quarterback rating would not exactly reflect that of a mid-career Dan Marino, it’s hard to place much blame on the rookie quarterback when his second-year receiver racks up dropped passes by the tailgate bus-load. The team claims that Little is “working extremely hard,” but continues to be plagued by inconsistencies. In truth, these dropped passes provide the coaching staff with a solid on-field reason to bench a player who has been nothing but a distraction over the course of the last two weeks, Usain Bolt pose and all.

If Little is indeed benched, a variety of players could see expanded roles as Joshua Cribbs has yet to see many snaps on offense, and Jordan Norwood has been a bit nicked up. But one player who will undoubtedly get a larger workload will be Richardson as he continues to become more comfortable with the offense, his teammates and the game of football at the professional level.

The statistics will pile up in due time. The Browns will not lose every contest from this point forward. Frustration will undeniably rear its ugly head from time to time. For now, however, the Browns should take solace in the fact that they not only moved up to select a play-maker, but in doing so they also landed a natural born leader.

“All those yards that Brandon threw for and all the yards that I run for,” said Richardson just one week earlier, “it doesn’t mean anything if we’re not winning. We have a lot to prove.”

AP Photo/Tony Dejak

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Footnotes:

  1. Twice on the ground, once on a pass reception []

  • Natedawg86

    deleted

  • hrd53

    He’s actually crossed the goal line 3 times this year… here’s hoping for many, many more!

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    This team needs 10x more Trent Richardsons unfortunately for the brain trust their time is running out and they won’t have another three years in which to try to accumulate that talent. Thankfully, hopefully.

  • wendigo

    2 rushing 1 receiving TD

  • wendigo

    in response to “when Richardson crosses the goal line – as he has twice in his very young career.” just a minor thing. otherwise good article

  • http://www.facebook.com/cb.everett.9 CB Everett

    Love Richardson’s attitude. And meanwhile….somewhere right now Greg Little just did the Bolt, after finishing his his bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios without spilling.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/ Scott @ WFNY

    Updated and clarified. Thanks!

  • Harv 21

    and, he seems to hang onto the ball no matter how hard he’s hit. Cuz if your receivers, QB and RB all suffer from the soapies, all is lost.

  • http://twitter.com/Pelderskelter Patrick Elder

    I didn’t love Greg Little’s reaction to people’s criticism of his Bolt pose the first time, but it was understandable. This is more a media-created problem than it is Little-created, but nevertheless, he has handled it poorly.

    But I’m sure ragging on him and berating him, casting him as a diva and a terrible person will help solve the problem.

  • BenRM

    I don’t know how good an offense with 10 RBs would be…I mean, maybe one of them can throw. ;)

  • BomberDawg

    My dad made a solid remark about Little’s ridiculous bolt gesture. He said “I’m fine with him doing it when he catches it, as long as he also does it pointing to the ground when he drops it.” couldn’t agree more.

  • http://twitter.com/oribiasi oribiasi

    I love to see TRich taking a stand and being a leader. While he was a no-brainer of a pick, at least they still had the…no brains enough to grab him. He will, God-willing, be the mainstay of this offense for years to come. It’s a joy to look at the very important skill position of RB and see him there.

  • http://twitter.com/oribiasi oribiasi

    Ha, well said. Shamrock…shame on you for being so silly.

  • paulbip

    The Browns have the worst guard play in the league. Trade Little for around a 5th rounder.

  • paulbip

    A man takes responsibility for his actions.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Was that your Pat Shurmur impression?

  • Nutts

    It continues to make me laugh when people say that weeden us not to blame because if the receivers. They are the same receivers that helped colt take all the blame and lose his job. Big time double standard there.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/ Scott @ WFNY

    Little is merely the pawn for juxtaposition’s sake in this instance. The column itself is about Richardson.

    If you follow me on Twitter, you’d know that while I think Little is embarrassing himself at this point, I was firmly on his side when he was being chastised by fans in Week 2. I will admit that the focus on his drops may be a bit overblown, but his antics are a story whether its wholly deserved or not.

  • mgbode

    well, except for Benjamin and Gordon who were brought in because the WRs we had last year were not good enough. and Cameron who needed a year to get enough experience to see the field. and Richardson who is a good receiver for a RB. So, besides 2 of our top4 WR, our best receiving TE, and our starting RB you are spot-on in that assessment :)

  • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

    im having a very hard time reconciling this criticism of greg little here with the praise of chris perez on these same pages.




    peacocking wide receiver? have you SEEN chris perez??



    nope. still dont get it.
    but am most curious to see how make ‘down’ clicks this post receives.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cb.everett.9 CB Everett

    Yeah, it wasn’t so much his initial boneheaded antics that did him in, as it was his lack of corrective action. And instead, he was indignant about it, basically “dropping the ball” a couple of times on his chances of making it right with fans (so to speak!).

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/ Scott @ WFNY

    I have seen Chris Perez. He’s a multiple-time All-Star who happens to be among the best at his position. Please, indulge me by trying to compare your obvious obsession to a second-year receiver who has accomplished absolutely nothing. Ellipses and all.

  • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

    haha. i expected this excuse but no quite so promptly.

    so in your circles it’s ok for an ‘all-star’ to be self-absorbed and arrogant? because, you know, he’s an all-star. the rules are different for them. they receive fawning treatment from many people and come to believe that theyre special.

    in mine, class and character are valued over salary and all-star appearances. because the latter are temporary, the former are real.

    tomato tomatoe.

    but if i were to compare the two evils:
    indulged bullying six year veteran who is utterly convinced in his own mind that he is allowed to ‘keep telling it like it is’ without apology even to his own fans and will actually play the ‘how much money do you make’ card

    vs

    2nd year player out of touch with how his onfield persona reads but is sensitive enough to –cares about– teammate, fans, people to offer to adjust his behavior… there’s no contest.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/ Scott @ WFNY

    Yes, I prefer my athletes tell it like it is. Perez owes no one an apology — everything he has said, save for perhaps the Carlos Beltran item, was rooted in fact. May opponents find some of his on-mound antics obtrusive? Potentially. But this is up to them to settle it on the field. Personally, I’ve never seen Perez act out on the field during a loss or while losing.

    Like I said many times over, I have no issues with Little’s touchdown dance. It’s his dropped passes and incessant need to pose for something as insignificant as a first down in your own territory while down 14 points.

    And I’ll gladly take your last comment, eloquently preceded by an “lol” as a compliment.

  • Big Z

    The Browns knew that Little had a huge ego when they drafted him. It’s the coaching staff’s fault for letting his nonsense get out of hand. Their inability to squash his arrogance is indicative of their overall coaching capabilities – poor.

  • http://twitter.com/bbo13 B-bo

    Does that mean the Patriots coaching staff is/was incapable, as they failed to “squash” the arrogance of Randy Moss. Or that Andy Reid and company are/were poor coaches because they couldn’t set T.O. straight? Sometimes a diva is a diva, and the only one who can control that is the player himself.

  • steve-o

    Trich’s 2.3 yds per carry are misleading. His yards after contact are about twice that. He’s going to be unreal if/when we start blocking.
    Little’s celebrations would probably be embraced if he consistently caught the football. It’s a mental thing, and he needs to either fix it or invest in a comfortable seat cushion. We could be seeing a lot more of Gorden soon.