August 1, 2014

The Importance of Trent Richardson – Cleveland Browns Round Table

WFNY_roundtable

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.

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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.

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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?

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Based upon this weekends waiver moves for the RB position I’d say even more is on Trent Richardson’s shoulders. Not that the RB position was all that great behind T-Rich to start but now, it’s almost as scary as the secondary. Weeden will really have to perform better to help T-Rich not vice versa IMO.

  • Harv 21

    “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?”

    My thoughts, too. My fretting here is based upon:

    - I don’t think Trent has shown he can take the hits he will absorb as an offensive focus (playing at a much lesser level through broken ribs is not “taking the hits”).

    - If Trent gets hurt the load falls heavily upon Weeden to be a playmaker. We’re still working on him being a game manager. He’s hardly the playmaker at this point.

    - I hate a cocky new FO that outthinks itself. That sees other teams successfully plug and play unknown cornerbacks or o-linemen or RBs and think they can do that too.

    Either this FO is arrogant in thinking it can just toss in guys not yet familiar with its schemes or it really doesn’t like a lot of the back-ups and even some of the starters. Or, the “win now” proclamations has an element of PR and they too are thinking longer term.

  • Harv 21

    what’s also a little bothersome is that they had a long look at Jackson in practice last season and in the off-season, only to ditch him at the last possible minute. Whoever comes in has to pick up the gazillion blitzes from our division opponents. Seems needlessly risky.

  • MrCleaveland

    Some teams build through the draft, others through free agency. We build through the post-cutdown waiver wire.

    The season hasn’t even started yet and I’m depressed. Oh well, maybe the pyrotechnical player introductions Sunday will cheer me up.

  • mgbode

    I think many are underscoring what playing FB does to a player. It is a rough and often thankless job (until you are cut and become knighted when the new guy is worse). When you are running full speed into full speed oncoming LBers, it is like you are on kickoff coverage duty every play. Guys who can catch and run and do other things are not able to do them anywhere near as well after playing some FB (in the same game at the very least).

    As such, my expectations of OggieB are lower on the pass catching and running side of things. I just hope he can play some FB.

    I am also worried about the RB depth as pretty much is universally agreed at this point. Hopefully, Richardson stays healthy and it doesn’t become an issue.

  • Ezzie Goldish

    Let’s throw out a slightly different question: If the Browns hadn’t made any waiver signings and just gone with the bottom 10 they had, would anyone be in a panic like they seem to be now? Nothing has changed among the top 40 on the roster, which is where about 98% of your playing time comes from. It seems like the bottom-end cuts to find diamonds in the rough rather than sticking with our own crap is making everyone worried, but isn’t that what they are supposed to do? In the past we had FOs who stuck with crappy guys rather than having a feel for what’s on the market, now we have a team that is saying “there are guys out there better than ours, so we’re going to grab them”. That’s a GOOD thing.

    Re: Richardson, I’m not particularly worried. They lost Lewis, which stunk, but that’s clearly what these two guys are competing for. When one wins, the other will be cut for a K or something. Richardson is still going to have the same role, and they really didn’t have a suitable replacement for him anyway. Ogbi is their temp for an in-game injury, and then they’ll sign someone for the following week. There are plenty of RBs like that sitting around (see Turner, Michael – an old Norv guy – et al). Let’s be honest – if Trent gets hurt, they’re screwed anyway.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Don’t forget the DJ and weiner dogs too! They won’t suck, well maybe.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Hey is this Owen Marecic?

  • mgbode

    it doesn’t count if you miss running into the full-speed LBers.

  • Natedawg86

    I was actually bummed when Montario went down. No-one mentioned him, but he looked pretty good at times last year. He averaged over 4 yards per carry. I think he would have been able to run the ball 100+ times for a change of pace.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Marecic was smart he went to Stanford!

  • mgbode

    he was better than Richardson last year

  • Patrick Elder

    Finally something reasonable. I don’t get why RB depth is all of a sudden a huge issue because we cut Brandon Jackson. That’s literally all that has happened in the last couple days, which is when the RB depth panic began. Before that everyone kinda knew that when Lewis went down we didn’t have much depth there but that it wasn’t that big of a deal because Ogbi is still a backup RB in addition to his FB duties.

    And honestly, what has Lewis proven that makes him a definitively better option than either Rainey or Johnson (is that the other guy’s last name? I think it is.)? He had the slightest edge in experience over either of these guys and the benefit of a full offseason with the playbook. That was it. People are acting like he was a guarantee.

  • Patrick Elder

    Bottom line is that if Trent goes down, we’re equally screwed no matter who we had signed.

  • Harv 21

    no one mentioned him because counting on him to carry any sort of role has turned out to be a pipe dream. The kid is talented but does not have the body to withstand the NFL. Not sure what else he has to do to prove that.

  • Natedawg86

    weet draft pick…

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    ugh

  • humboldt

    Agreed. You aren’t just cutting the player, you are cutting the investment you have made in him — the “organizational capital” that has accrued to the player over time. What you may marginally upgrade in talent you lose in local knowledge/familiarity with the system/reps with other players on the roster.

    To me, this weekend was a manifestation of our worst fears about the Banner/Lombardi (Bombardi?) leadership team that is immeasurably smarter than the rest of us.

  • Harv 21

    as to your last sentence, I’m trying to hold myself back form declaring “same as it ever was” before the first game is played. But as for early signs, I don’t like it either. Also don’t like them staring at 2 kickers all summer and ditching both very last minute (I know, they’re just kickers), don’t like that Skrine again appears to be the #2 corner. What’s most annoying is that despite Cleve fans’ ridiculously low demands on this team, we already have the appearance of more laissez faire player procurement: this stuff, deferring draft picks. picking guys coming off major injuries at needed spots like Jamoris Slaughter. Banner and Haslam told me twice that they’re the most impatient people in the room. Then show me, boys, just show me.