April 23, 2014

What should the Browns do with receiver injury situation?

The Cleveland Browns have had receiver problems for as long as anyone can remember at this point. Anyone talked to Kevin Johnson lately? Former Browns receiver and returner André Davis is only 33. Maybe he still has something in the tank. Kidding aside, it felt like the Browns’ receivers were developing this year early on as we got looks at Mohamed Massaquoi, Greg Little, Travis Benjamin and Josh Gordon. Plus, we had the promise of pesky Jordan Norwood and Josh Cribbs making appearances in relief. …And then there were none. Or at least that’s the way it feels.

Mohamed Massaquoi is presumed to be out this weekend along with Travis Benjamin and Jordan Norwood. That leaves Greg Little, Josh Gordon, and Josh Cribbs. Add in the presumed call-up of Josh Cooper from the practice squad and the possibility of recently re-signed Rod Windsor and you can at least fill out the lineup, I guess. But, that’s a whole lot of guys without a whole lot of experience or meaningful recent playing time, so what should the Browns do? Here are some suggestions.

  • Tight ends – The Browns haven’t utilized their tight ends a ton in the passing game, but they get a bit of relief there as it appears Alex Smith will be back. He’s not the greatest receiving threat, but his presence might be able to free up fellow TE Jordan Cameron. Cameron is big and athletic for a tight end, and maybe the Browns could get creative in using him in the slot more as a receiver than a tight end this week.
  • Chris Ogbonnaya – Alright, I admit it. I overreacted to Chris Ogbonnaya’s fumble early on this season because he was active and Brandon Jackson wasn’t. Again, I was wrong. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by Chris Ogbonnaya’s abilities as a third down back and despite the fact that he seemed a bit lost and / or lazy on the now-infamous third and one play, given some prep time, I think Ogbonnaya could be used split out at least a few times. He might not be great catching slants and typical receiver passes, but maybe. He’s tied for third on the team in receiving yards with Greg Little and he’s averaging 10.8 yards per reception. Again, this isn’t a long-term solution, but the Browns are kind of up against it.
  • Josh Cribbs – Coming off of a concussion, it appeared that the Browns were working to keep Cribbs limited last week to just return man duties. Cribbs may not be a legit receiver every down in this league, but he’s shown an ability to catch most everything thrown his way and also is by far the best on the team reacting when the initial reads fall apart. Cribbs is a professional when it comes to bailing out the QB. Despite the team’s desires, it might be time to give him more significant load.
  • Just let Josh Cooper compete. Sometimes the easiest solution is the most obvious one. Let the next wide receiver up on the depth chart try to do the job. Cooper is used to working with Brandon Weeden from their college days together, maybe he comes out and shocks the world in Brian Hartline-esque fashion.1  Sure, it’s unlikely, but so was Ryan Tannehill throwing for 431 yards against the Cards.
  • Run Trent Richardson 100 times. The Bengals are banged up at linebacker and when the Browns faced a situation where Colt McCoy was thrust into action a couple years ago as a rookie, they leaned hard on Peyton Hillis. In two victories against the Saints and Pats, Colt McCoy only threw 35 passes. Trent Richardson has been mostly successful running the ball this year. He also had his biggest game so far against the Bengals when he went for 109 yards on 19 carries. Tell me you’d be upset if the Browns went out there and gave Trent Richardson the ball 30 times and tried to win that way when the receivers were all banged up.

Obviously we’ll see what Pat Shurmur and Brad Childress choose to do, but the only thing I don’t want to see is this become some kind of excuse for the Browns. Dealing with adversity is what the NFL is all about. The Bengals game is winnable, at least by comparison to the rest of the schedule, and the Browns should never be more hungry and desperate than they are right now.

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Footnotes:

  1. Hartline had 12 catches for 253 yards for the Dolphins against the Cards. []

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jeremy-Humbert/100001904340553 Jeremy Humbert

    Just run Trent! Has he even had 20 carries in a game? And I’m not an idiot Pat… I realize that catching balls out of the back field are considered touches… I want as least 20 carries from the man! Look at some of the great backs in the league in years past… LT catch 70 passes a year and still had 300 carries, and did it for a good while, same with M. Faulk.. Trent can be that guy if the HC would take the pressure off of Weeden and distribute it to his RB. Weeden has 2 bone headed plays a game so far in his young career… wouldn’t it be great if he didn’t have as many opportunities dissappoint? Let him wow us a few times a game, and sit back and watch the rest. 35 pass attempts and 30 total rushes this week wins the game. I think, right? Right?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jeremy-Humbert/100001904340553 Jeremy Humbert

    And we are 0-2 this year when Weeden throws for 300+, and 0-2 when he throws for 200+…. in contrast, we are only 0-1 when Richardson runs for 100+… RUN IT!

  • mgbode

    “Tell me you’d be upset if the Browns went out there and gave Trent
    Richardson the ball 30 times and tried to win that way when the
    receivers were all banged up.”

    yes, I would be upset. there is no reason to give a RB 30 carries in a game. it is begging your RB to get injured. if you meant touches (something like 22carries/8receptions), then I’m okay with it as the grind on receptions is less than carries.

  • mgbode

    we are only 0-1 when Weeden throws 4 INTs in a game, but 0-4 when he throws less than 4INTs. obviously, Weeden isn’t throwing enough INTs!

  • Vindictive_Pat

    I’m glad Alex Smith is back… he’s our best blocking tight end and a decent receiver. We’ll need the blocking up front against the Bengals who have Carlos Dunlap this time, unlike in our first meeting. I also would like to see Josh Cooper get a chance to play… seems like he and Norwood bring similar strengths to the table.

  • Harv 21

    Disagree with much. They need to deal with reality and not fiction to maximize their chances.

    Reality: Smith can block and seal a LB, Schwartz is improving weekly and this can create seams for Richardson against this weak defense. Keep it simple and make them stop off-tackle runs and sweeps. Grinding them them with your grinders is a way to keep Dalton/Green off the field..

    Fiction: increase Cribbs’s role with creativity! Been hearing this since Mangini. Since he cannot run a precise route to save his life (understandable since he started practicing the position in his late 20s), he’s a bad first option unless Weeden had all day to throw and is most effective as a late check down. Defenses aren’t fooled by his end arounds any longer, and the wildcat never worked. Stop with the Cribbs fallacy. That will only work when defenses have multiple other weapons to worry about.

    Reality: our only reason to think that Cameron is ready to affect a game is because the FO goes on and on about his athleticism. But after 1 1/2 seasons we haven’t seen one “wow” moment with him, only a guy who looks like he could have the potential to be a decent pass-catching TE, nothing game-breaking.

    Fiction: Cooooper is the answer! He’s clearly so gritty and mop-topped cute and must have that oh-so-special telepathy with the QB. OK maybe we don’t know but any idiot can see he’s just so, uh, Brennan-esque in a wink-wink/say no more/buy-up-all-the-jerseys kinda way. If Varajao gets traded he’s so perfect to step right in and fill that special Cleveland achy fan void.

  • mgbode

    “the wildcat never worked”

    for one magical TNF game against the Steelers it worked just well enough to win. do not take that away :)

    outside of that, good takes.

  • Garry_Owen

    Oh, I get it, Josh Cooper and Brian Hartline comparisons . . . because they’re the same number? No. The same height and weight? No. Same university? Well, OSU and OSU, I guess. No, I’m calling RACE CARD!
    Hartline and Cooper are not comparable players (except for, well, the seemingly obvious, yet wholly irrelevant characteristic).

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Craig Lyndall

    What? Receiver comes out of nowhere for a big game? What? I can’t be racist. Some of my best friends are white wide receivers!

  • Garry_Owen

    Nicely played, Sir Rookie Ball.
    He didn’t really come out of nowhere, though. He’s been their top guy for a couple of years. I bet RG3 reminds you a lot of Vick, Cunningham, too.
    [insert happy smiley (non-race-specific) emoticon]

  • mgbode

    no way, RGIII is more like Daunte Culpepper. THEY ARE THE EXACT SAME!!!

  • Garry_Owen

    McNabb.

  • mgbode

    marlin briscoe

  • Return of the (Alex) Mack

    “some of my best friends are white wide receivers” classic. Good show my friend. Now if you will excuse me I have to go catch a movie with Dane Sanzebacher and danny amendola.

  • Dee P

    Give me 30 carries, and I’ll give you 60 of the toughest yards you’ve ever seen.

    Sincerely,

    Montario Hardesty

  • Garry_Owen

    Wes Welker is mad that you didn’t call.

  • Garry_Owen

    I’m also okay with it if 12 of those carries are to preserve a 10 point 4th quarter lead.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    Greg Camarillo knew no one was gonna call.

  • pwndabear

    His skill set reminds me of Spergon wynn

  • Pat Shurmur

    I’ve talked to Holm-boy about signing TO and Chad Johnson. I’ve heard they have wonderful personalities. Had to pay a bit extra since the call went to Seattle, but whatevs.

  • Pat Shurmur

    I called and he never answered.

  • Pat Shurmur

    I’d be using him the same way we used Wynn. Just let that sink in…

  • Pat Shurmur

    Since he’s good at blocking, we’ve decided he’ll be getting all the pass attempts and Watson’ll be in in all the run plays to confuse the defense, but I’ll never tell the media that.

  • Pat Shurmur

    Average margin when he throws more INT’s: 1. When he throws less, 10.33. I am an awesome coach.

  • mgbode

    dude, give it a rest.

  • porckchopexpress

    Can’t we just make one “frankenblack QB” so that white people don’t have to struggle when comparing black QB’s to each other?
    Ladies and Gentlemen I give you
    Akili Tavaris-BlakeMcwilliamsmooninghamickpepperwich III
    Not to get all preachy but does anyone remember that in ’87 we were still having a discussion about how if Doug Williams lost the SB it would lend credence to the argument that blacks couldn’t handle the position? College seniors were barely alive when some parts of the country were still debating black people’s ability to play QB.

  • Hopwin

    Dibs on Akili Tavaris-BlakeMcwilliamsmooninghamickpepperwich III
    in the 2013 Fantasy Draft

  • mgbode

    i was too young to have such “grown-up” conversations at the time, but i would have thought Warren Moon put all such conversations to rest.

  • Hopwin

    I spit coffee when I read the above. Thank you :D

  • Dan105

    I say put Joe Haden out there for the entire game and let him play both ways. He’s had 4 weeks off. He should be able to handle it.

  • BisonDeleSightings

    Well done.

  • Dave

    Good point: we really need to make sure TR is good to go for the playoffs. ;-)

  • Natedawg86

    I agree. Lets not forget Hartline was a 4th rd draft pick too when comparing to Cooper.

  • Natedawg86

    More like Warren Moon.

  • Garry_Owen

    It’s shocking, I know, but Hartline is also one of the fastest guys on the Dolphins team – if not in the NFL. He’s not the classic “speed-burner,” as the “code” would have us understand it.

  • Natedawg86

    0-1 when we give up a INT for a TD
    0-1 when we give up a punt return for a TD

  • humboldt

    Any labor decision about Joe Haden must be ratified by Haden Nation

  • steve-o

    What we should do is put our best playmakers on the field and call plays that maximize their abilities. Not that it will actually happen.

  • porckchopexpress

    I was only 12 so I wasn’t actually having the discusion but I just remember there being people talking about Doug Williams as having pressure on him to tear down the racial stereotype of blacks not being able to handle the QB postion. I ate my share of Elmers in those days so maybe I’m over emphasizing how much it was talked about. I looked up Moon and he was technically only in his 4th year in the NFL at that time so I don’t think he carried the same “gravitas” as an older Moon might have.

  • Natedawg86

    Lets not forget that he also sleeps in a oxygen deprivation chamber… I thought Cooper played well. It was almost like he made the other receivers step their games up as well.