2012 was one crazy year in the wild wacky world of Cleveland Sports. Some would tell you 2012 was as bad as it has ever been here. As the year comes to a close, like we have done the last four years, WFNY will take a look at what we view to be the 10 biggest sports stories affecting our local sports scene. Each day through the rest of the year, we will be counting down from ten to one. We started the Buckeyes Final Four trip. Number nine is something that happened just a short two weeks ago. The Ohio State perfect 12-0 season was number eight while Chris Perez’ harsh and honest words clocked in at number seven. Our sixth-biggest story saw our first of two straight from the Cavaliers, the drafting of Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller. Up next was Kyrie Irving receiving the NBA Rookie of the Year award. Coming in at number four was Manny Acta’s fall from managerial grace.
This season the Browns were led by rookies in passing, rushing and receiving. (Still mad I didn’t get so much as a cap tip from the Browns stat department. You’re welcome.)
Trent Richardson’s 950 yards didn’t just lead the team this year, they were the most by a Browns rookie RB ever. Yes, he played in more games and had more attempts than Jim Brown in his rookie season. Stop for a moment though and think about the comparison. You want to split hairs about Richardson’s season compared to Jim Brown? Ok. I fully submit Richardson’s rookie year was only the second best in franchise history. And that’s good enough. He also set a club rookie marks for rushing touchdowns.
Brandon Weeden threw for more yards than any Browns rookie QB ever has. His 3,385 yards passing rank 7th all time by a rookie QB, and is the 10th best season total in Browns history- by ANY quarterback. Are passing yards the end all measure of a QB? Of course not. But there have been several other rookie QBs get a shot for the Browns recently, and none of them were able to come close to what Weeden did this season.
Perhaps the rookie surprise of the season was WR Josh Gordon. Gordon was taken in the supplemental draft and led the team with 805 yards receiving and 5 touchdown catches. That is the fourth highest total by a rookie in Browns history. Gordon also became just the fourth rookie to have a catch in all 16 games of his rookie season. All this from a player that didn’t play a single down of college football last year.
There were plenty more rookies that contributed greatly to the Browns this season. Mitchell Schwartz played every snap at right tackle for the Browns. John Hughes and Billy Winn saw significant time on the defensive line. Hughes recorded 32 tackles and 3 sacks. Winn added 24 tackles and a sack of his own. James-Michael Johnson was hampered by injuries, but started several games at OLB and recorded 36 tackles.
Trent Richardson will be the standard bearer for this rookie class. The Browns traded picks to move up and take him. Brandon Weeden will forever be linked to Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, fairly or unfairly.