The Trade

I’m very upset with the Browns right now and I say that knowing there’s a good chance that this trade will look good a year or two down the road. Even if Trent Richardson plays great for the Colts, which I hope he does, the Browns could still come out fine on this one … if they pick the right quarterback. Given the front office’s track record (don’t preach to me about a new regime, I’m tired of the word and besides, they’re all the same), that’s not something anyone should take for granted.

It’s obvious that Brandon Weeden is history. There’s no other way to explain them starting Brian Hoyer over Jason Campbell. Campbell is #2 on the depth chart, Hoyer is #3. That’s a fact. The only explanation for Hoyer starting is that the front office and/or coaching staff has concluded Campbell isn’t the great QB who can take the team to the Super Bowl. So, it’s time to see if Hoyer, unlikely as it is, can be that QB. If Hoyer plays even passably, we may not see Weeden start again as a member of the Browns. When pressed, Chud wouldn’t even commit to Weeden’s return and that was before the Richardson trade. Weedon may be healthy enough to play as soon as next week, but I’m thinking that’s a long shot.

Trading Richardson simply reinforces the notion that the front office has its gaze fixed on next year. For better or worse, Richardson was the face of the team, the only high profile skill player on the offensive side of the ball. Sorry, Joe Thomas. You’re great, but you’re a lineman. Trading Richardson and getting absolutely nothing in return for this season, especially with a running back depth chart as weak as the Browns’, was tantamount to throwing in the towel on the season.

Frankly, Richardson hasn’t impressed me nearly as much as I hoped he would. Yes, he gained 950 yards last year, but close to 1000 yards doesn’t have the luster that it used to, not in a 16 game season. Yes, 11 touchdowns was great production, especially for an anemic offensive team like the Browns, but he didn’t wow us on the field. I think last year’s injuries last year took a heavy toll. I hoped he’d put up good numbers this season, but he got off to a slow start.

In the pass dominated NFL, first round running backs, let alone one drafted as high as third are rare commodities. Last year, no RBs were taken in the first round and only five were taken in the second round. Alfred Morris, a 6th round pick, gained 1600 yards for the Redskins. So, getting a first round pick, even one in the 20’s like the Colts will be, is good value for a running back that hasn’t proved he’s star material.

So, Richardson wasn’t as good as I hoped and the Browns got good value for him. Why am I so pissed?

Simple. I don’t like throwing in the towel, especially only two games into the season. I’ve been a lifelong Cleveland sports fan and I don’t ever remember a team tanking so soon. We should take the field every week to win, not to lose for a better draft position. I’m not sure if the Browns front office and coaching staff are on the same page here. Chud looked like a deer caught in headlights at the Wednesday night press conference following the trade. It was quite obvious the trade caught him off guard and that he was disappointed. He nearly choked on the words. Sure, he said the right things, but did anyone believe him?

The other reason I’m pissed is because I feel misled by the team. Since hiring the new coaching staff, we’ve been bombarded with promises that this year will be different, that we’re putting together a real team with a chance to compete. Yet, in hindsight, it’s clear to me that the front office knew 2013 would be a washout.

They made it clear through the draft and free agency signings. They didn’t take offensive players. They traded away 2013 picks for 2014 picks. They spent $80 million on defense and not a penny on offense. This meant one of two things. Either Weeden and company were the offense to take us to the promised land or … they would take us to the doghouse, and I don’t mean the one at the east end of the stadium.

How much changed in the 17 days between opening day and the Richardson trade? Not much. They had to have formed opinions on Weeden, Richardson and prior to the first snap of the season. If you ask me, they were formed before the draft last April. And yet, the team still gave us all the hype about the coming year. A new coach, a new offensive coordinator, a new system, a new, rejuvenated Browns.

What a pile of crap! Now it’s wait till next season, again. I don’t know if I’m going to take the bait. My first Browns game was in the 60s. I watched Leroy Kelly cut in the mud. I’ve suffered through Red Right 88, the Drive and the Fumble and I’ve never been as disillusioned as I am right now. I don’t want to attend any more games this season, even though I’ve already paid for my season ticket, because I want the team to know they are perilously close to losing me as a fan. I’m giving serious consideration to not renewing my season tickets, which have been in my family’s hands since my grandfather first purchased them in 1946, the Brown’s inaugural season.

Time heals all wounds. I may change my mind as the season progresses, or not. Come next year, I may catch Browns fever again. Right now though, I’m running well under a 98.6.

Till the next post, chris


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