By this time next week, we’ll be talking about real live NFL action and whether or not the Browns won or not. Isn’t it exciting? Well, it could be, but that largely depends on whether the Browns come out and beat the Dolphins to open the season. And whether they can do that depends in a large part on Trent Richardson.
Craig: So with all the talk about everything from rotating the 47th-53rd players on the roster to not having a kicker, it seems we haven’t spent a lot of time talking about Trent Richardson. He’s spent a lot of the pre-season resting, really. Meanwhile, if there’s a real key to the 2013 season, he has to be it, right? He’ll have the ability to make Brandon Weeden better and help keep the defense off the field. Should we really be worried about his backups more than anything else?
TD: You drafted Trent 3rd overall when the league is going away from taking RBs high. As I said last year, ride the guy hard for five years or as long as he can last. Adrian Peterson mold. RBs are like closers. And as John Hart said they grow on trees. If you have a great o line, anyone can run behind it. I’m not the least bit concerned about his backup. He’s healthy and primed for a big year.
Scott: The key to the 2013 season, as it is with any season, will be the play of the quarterback. At this point, that player is one Brandon Kyle Weeden. That said—and this meshes with the point you made—a healthy and juggernautian Trent Richardson will make life on Planet Weeden a lot more hospitable. I’m very, very concerned about the lack of depth behind him, but Richardson will be put in position to be a top-five back this year. It’ll be up to his knees to carry the load. We know the guy can take hits—the rest is a good thing.
Jacob: I’m a little surprised by the Browns bringing along two unheralded rookies to serve as Trent’s primary backups. As many in the fantasy football world know, the day of dominant workhorse running backs is nearing its end. The average NFL team ran the ball 400+ times last year, with a minimum of 350. Trent’s going to have to be the rare ballcarrier to have 300+ attempts this season. If he’s not healthy and producing well, then say goodbye to any hopeful improvement for Weeden and the passing attack.
Kirk: I’m very concerned about depth behind Trent, because without him, this team is one dimensional and doomed offensively. I think Obie can spell in some third down/backfield receiving scenarios, but I just don’t know about Rainey or Johnson. Losing Dion Lewis will be felt throughout the year and it may cause Trent to miss a game or two due to overworking him and causing nagging injuries.
Rick: Richardson looks healthy, so it is finally time to see what he can do. I am concerned about the right side of the line with the injuries to Lauvao and Pinkston. Running right was a strength, hopefully it still will be.
I am VERY concerned about the depth behind Richardson. I’m scratching my head at the idea of bringing in two untested guys. Nobody expected Dion Lewis to break his leg, but I think part of the solution there would have been to have a veteran back-up and one of these young kids.
Craig: I don’t disagree, Rick, but do you think they should have held on to Brandon Jackson? Maybe running back truly is a position where they just become one of those teams that plugs the next guy in, regardless of age. Then again, we saw what the Steelers dealt with last year trying to plug in runners. The Browns won as the Steelers fumbled eight times and lost five of them.
TD: They wanted a back that would be different from T Rich, hence the reason they went out and got Dion Lewis. Willis McGahee is out there and supposedly healthy. Jonathan Dwyer just was cut and cleared waivers. Those kinds of guys (like Brandon Jackson) are a dime a dozen and out there if you want them.
Scott: I think you should want a back-up to be similar given schemes and such. The third back should be the change-of-pace guy. But what do I know?
TD: I’m with you. From what I read, Rainey and Johnson are more of those types. That’s why they cut Jackson and didn’t go out and get a veteran like McGahee or Dwyer.
Jacob: Clarification: Is Obie considered a running back anymore? Fullback, running back, yeah I know it doesn’t matter much. Just throwing this out there.
If the Browns are indeed planning on using Obie regularly as part of the offense, not just for blocking, then maybe I’m not as worried about the two newbies.
Rick: I would assume Ogbonnaya will be the primary back-up for this week at least, the problem is that the Browns have a lot of two back sets. Anything happens to either of them and chuck a portion of the playbook out the window.
Kirk: Obie HAS to be the first option outside Richardson. He’s shown the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and runs tough. These other two won’t be full-go playbook wise for a while.
I’m just concerned overall at the small number of skill players period. I think I have more running backs and wide receivers on my fantasy teams.
Thus closing the roundtable loop. Trent Richardson’s importance to the Browns this season probably can’t be overstated. He needs to be healthy. He needs to play well. He needs to do both of those things at least until the new guys can get up to speed on what the Browns are doing in their schemes. That could be the entire 2013 season. You never know.
Did we put a layer of panic on the season for you? Are you feeling good about Richardson and the running back position heading into this week?