Joe Knows

Listen children and you might hear the curious sound of a Browns fan cheer. Why, you ask for a team 2-7? Look no further than to Trent Richardson.

While bright spots have been few and far between this season for the Browns— who gave up a fourth-quarter lead Sunday against Baltimore— the rookie’s hard running and playing despite injury this season have been refreshing if not revolutionary.

But unlike Paul Revere, T-Rich is taking defensive backs for a ride

Richardson has rushed for 100 yards in three games this season—two of those coming in the last two weeks while being limited in practice with injured ribs.

At 5 feet 9 inches and 230 pounds, the bowling bowl-battering ram combination with a freakish workout routine and a low center of gravity has proven he was worth Cleveland’s trade up one spot in April’s draft. Coming out as a junior from Alabama, Richardson was widely regarded as the best running back prospect since Adrian Peterson.

With 575 yards so far, he is on pace to break the 1,000-yard mark and become the Browns’ second rookie running back to meet the benchmark and first since Kevin Mack in 1985.

In the process, he has, at least momentarily, exorcised the spirits of William Green, Reuben Droughns and Peyton Hillis, who showed glimpses of franchise-back potential only to unceremoniously depart from the team.

While he carries a modest 3.8 yards per rush average, Richardson has passed the eye test — even for Jim Brown, a previously outspoken critic.

Prior to his drafting in April, Brown, who had been embroiled in a public feud with general manager Mike Holmgren, called Richardson “ordinary.”

After the Browns’ 7-6 win over San Diego in Week 8, Brown met with Richardson in the locker room while praising him up and down.

“That’s my partner, man,” the greatest football player ever said afterward.

It’s a shame Brown couldn’t suit up right now for Cleveland, given its lack of playmakers on offense.

As a team, the Browns rank 23rd in rushing and only have four rushes of 20 or more yards.

A large part of this is due to their ineffectiveness in the passing game. The Browns rank 13th in passing yards, fourth in attempts, and Brandon Weeden has thrown 12 interceptions, illustrating that they are routinely playing from behind.

The Browns — still largely in flux with a new owner, between general managers and a likely lame duck coach — have seemingly become the NFL’s version of the car that perpetually rests on blocks without an engine in your next door neighbor’s garage.

But as long as Cleveland continues drafting players like Richardson — a rarity given the Browns’ recent draft history — expect to see them on the road to victory in the near future.

 

JOE CUNEO

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