trent richardson again2

Yesterday the Cleveland Browns traded away a player they selected with the third overall pick just a year ago, even after trading up to get him. They did this two games into the season, a time when their quarterback is hurt, but also when their top receiver is returning from a suspension.

And people that mattered (Rob Chudzinski and Joe Banner) still managed to stand in front of cameras and microphones last night and say they’re not punting the season already. I wonder how they’re able to walk properly with grapefruits that large.

The NFL has so very few in-season Earth rattling deals, so often it’s difficult to see past anything other than the short-term, and the immediate impact. And indeed, both of those things will be horrible in Cleveland now, a city that’s numb to such pain. But after an initial reaction last night that also dug into the fantasy awesomeness going forward for Trent Richardson, let’s attempt to take a slightly more sober look at the alternative: this could actually work out for Cleveland long term.

Please stop throwing things at me.

Firstly and foremost-ly, there’s the simple matter of constant breakage. Yes, Richardson thoroughly demonstrated that he’s a tough guy by playing in nine games during his rookie year with broken ribs. But that injury still happened, and it came after Richardson missed the entire preseason following a knee operation (he’s had two of those now), and he then also missed the season finale with an ankle injury. For good measure, he’s also battled through a shin problem.

Often I go on my anti-injury prone label rant, and that’s still true here. But there’s much more than luck at play with T-Rich too, and instead logical thinking should prevail. Richardson plays a position where he’s subjected to repeated and thorough abuse, which drastically minimizes the lifespan of a running back. Combine that with the rapid growth of the passing game in the modern NFL, and it’s clear why running backs aren’t often high picks anymore, and especially not top three picks. This past spring Giovani Bernard was the first running back selected at 37th overall in the second round, and in 2012 after Richardson we waited until the 31st and 32nd overall picks at the very end of the first round for the next RBs to be called (Doug Martin and David Wilson).

That long-term abuse makes it highly difficult for Richardson to be worthy of such a steep investment, and there was surely some extra apprehensiveness following the numerous bruises and breaks in just Year one. Then there’s also his fundamental flaws as a runner, which were detailed thoroughly by Brenden Leister in a tape analysis over at a few months ago.

Richardson is a powerful runner with surprising speed, and there’s no doubting that simple yet painful observation. He’s not a fun guy to tackle.

But then why, exactly, does he bounce to the outside so much and disregard clear running lanes? That’s a tendency Leister observed throughout Richardson’s rookie season. Here’s an example on a play that should have been an easy touchdown, but instead it ended in nothingness with a no gain.

ricahardson cut

Maybe there’s just some rookie tendencies that still need to be eliminated during his sophomore year, and his vision will develop. Or maybe the Browns and general manager Michael Lombardi had little faith in both that development, and Richardson’s ability to remain on the field.

OR, a new management team wanted their guys, their way, and their imprint, and a bold move was made for the long-term betterment of the franchise, with all short-term concerns disregarded. It was a difficult yet justifiable move, but good luck convincing anyone in Cleveland that football is, in fact, a business.

More notes, stray thoughts, and other such randomness

You should probably start Joique Bell

You need to start Joique Bell this week, especially in a PPR league, and especially with Reggie Bush likely a game-time decision Sunday. Oh, and especially against a Redskins rush defense that was been just the worst. No really, it has been, with Washington giving up a league worst 402 rushing yards over two games, and it’s not close (the Jaguars are 31st, but with 347 yards). In Week 1, LeSean McCoy pumped the ‘Skins for 184 rushing yards at a pace of 5.9 per carry, and then James Starks followed that with 132 yards on 6.6 per carry. We should also note here that Starks had all of 255 rushing yards last year over six game appearances, and he was the Packers’ first +100-yard rusher in 45 games.

But here and elsewhere I’ve done enough Joique Bell man crush gushing. I’ll let Andy Behrens take over:

The backup rusher, who’s already snaked two goal-line plunges from the incumbent, will be a perpetual thorn in the side, particularly this week. Even if Bush, hobbled by a knee injury, is available in the nation’s capital, Bell should take on an expanded role. Over the first two weeks he’s accounted for 24 total touches, 164 total yards (6.8 yards per touch) and two touchdowns, seeing roughly 30-35 snaps per game.

If you need more convincing, you’ll also be starting a running back who kicks it old school after touchdowns, and he enjoys waving his hands because he just doesn’t care.

The quarterback problem with Thursday Night Football

I will never, ever complain about football on my television, because I sort of like football. But we’ve now had a full year of weekly Thursday night games, and with only a few exceptions, the results have been horrible. Sure, maybe that’s just because the matchups have been awful, but there are plenty of games on Sundays which we assume will be brutal, and then they surprisingly entertain us.

You, dear reader, care little about this, but as someone who writes about football the TNF game leaves us with very little turnaround time between the end of one week and the beginning of another, and therefore not nearly as much time to review and analyze. More importantly, teams have much less time to gameplan, which contributes to the inferior product.

But from a fantasy standpoint, it’s all good in some formats. Salvatore Stefanile trudged through the history of Thursday games, and found that of the 102 quarterbacks who have appeared in the Thursday showcase, only 28 did not meet the QB2 cutoff (meaning they were the 24th-ranked quarterback that week or better that week) in a two-QB league. They may not always be phenomenal, but they’re not completely tanking either.

However, Stefanile also notes that for those in leagues starting one quarterback, only 33 percent of QBs in Thursday games put up QB1 numbers. Not good.

This person exists

I had to sit and stare at these words for a minute before determining that, no, they’re not written by The Onion. And I’m still not really sure, probably because I’d like to believe that these people don’t exist.

Eye on Football kindly directed us to two Bay Area residents and 49ers fans who evidently watched their first football game Sunday. Both wrote letters to the editor (received and surely printed with great glee by the San Francisco Chronicle) doing more than just complaining about the crowd noise during their team’s loss to the Seahawks this past Sunday in Seattle.

Doing that would have been sufficiently absurd. But this particular man actually wants the home crowd penalized for excessive noise to the point that if it continues for long enough throughout the season, the Seahawks will be stripped of a home playoff game.

No, really

Was anyone else appalled by the unsportsmanlike conduct of the Seattle Seahawks and their fans, juiced on noise, which surely creates as big an advantage over an opponent as any performance enhancing drug and which, to their shame, NFL officials turn the same blind eye they have to concussions and drugs (“Seattle states case loudly, clearly in rout,” Sports, Sept. 16)?

It would be simple to fix. Seahawks players and managers would ask their fans to cease and desist, and the NFL would implement a new rule: The visiting team may stop the game when fan noise is greater than a specified decibel level, and should this rule be violated in more than three games, no home games will be played at the offending field for the rest of the season, including playoff games. Things would quiet down.

At a time when the world seems sour, sports give us a place of joy, community and hope, and to have it spoiled is a bigger loss than it seems on the surface.

That’s right, crowd noise was just compared to PEDs, and put on the same level as concussions.

Turns out Jay Cutler has a personality after all

Weird, I know. Cutler and his wife made an appearance on The League last night in an episode centered around some wife swapping shenanigans, or so I’m told. Unfortunately, it seems the Internet isn’t always able to satisfy every request I have, and only this promo clip was available.

Quick, burn this evidence now. Cutler must remain a pouting fool who shows no emotion whatsoever and isn’t capable of having a hint of personality. If there’s one thing we know for certain through the case studies provided by Cutler and Cam Newton, it’s that the brief glimpses we get of these people once a week entirely represent their response to everything.