The Cleveland Browns have a real chance to develop a solid, dependable running game, writes Steve Doerschuk of the Canton Repository. He cites the emergence of running back Peyton Hillis and the currently untapped potential of Montario Hardesty, who was out all of the 2010 season with a knee injury.
As a Browns fan, it’s hard not to get excited about the potential of the Browns’ backfield and Doerschuk isn’t wrong in feeling confident about the team’s plan for its running backs because it’s just that – a plan. Too long have the Browns called upon the services of journeymen and one-year wonders (though unknowingly one-year wonders until their disastrous follow-up seasons). It seems now that the Browns potentially have their best plan in place since 1999.
Now, that’s not to say that there are concerns. Sure, both Hillis (25) and Hardesty (24) are young, but Hardesty is already a major injury concern and Hillis could be heading down the same path given his running style. It’s not exactly fair to label him as such just yet, but the league has seen bulldozing running backs come and go in a flash many times before. It would be ideal to see Hillis be the exception to that rule, and the two-back system could help that happen.
There is also the possibility that Hillis will experience the curse of becoming a player opposing teams take note of or, hey, even the Madden curse if that’s your kind of thing. He was able to burst onto the scene in 2010, a surprising do-it-all player who carried the Browns nearly into playoff contention – until other teams began preparing for him.
Without more formidable options on offense, especially at the wide receiver position, defenses placed most of their attention on Hillis, resulting in dwindling stats as the season wound down.
A healthy Montario Hardesty will go a long way to putting those concerns to bed, though a lot also rides on the success of quarterback Colt McCoy and the other facets of the offense.
But without all of this speculation, the fact of the matter remains that Peyton Hillis had a great season in 2010 and has a chance to really build on it. And regardless of his injuries, Hardesty is still considered to have a bright future, especially in a two-back system. The complementing styles of these two running backs puts the Browns in an enviable position, giving us more than enough reason to defiantly look at those aforementioned concerns in the face and think, “Maybe this plan will finally turn out alright.”