Everything relies on Browns running backs in 2015


You know that old saying, quality over quantity? Well, could the 2015 Cleveland Browns flip that narrative at the running back position?

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Their backfield is loaded with question marks. Can Isaiah Crowell take the load as the leading ball carrier? Can Terrance West possibly unseat Crowell, who looks like the starter at this point? What will Duke Johnson’s workload center around? This also doesn’t include a player in Glenn Winston, that the team is extremely high on.

Related: Cleveland Browns sign a pair of running backs 

All of a sudden there almost seems to be too many cooks in the kitchen. The way offensive coordinator John DeFilippo handles this group, could be the difference in this team being a contender for a wildcard spot, or yet another under .500 campaign.

They need to figure out roles. If it’s a running back by committee situation, it just gets too confusing. I would say hand each player an expectation of workload. The problem with this organization for years, are decisions made on the fly. Create a plan, and stick with it.

So many questions, so many options. Their combined production is going to need to equal the production of an elite quarterback, and instead setup the pass for the more vulnerable Josh McCown. In that case, their quantity would equal quality.

Unfortunately, both West and Johnson are already dealing with injuries in camp. Leading to the signing of two “camp legs” who will help create some competition at the position for a little while. If their injuries linger, this is a huge problem for this offense, because of their inexperience at the position.

They need to embody what Cleveland represents, and adopt that blue collar “ground and pound” style of football. It starts with each back doing their job, and filling their specific role. Health is also a major concern, and the reason why splitting carries between the three could be extremely sustainable throughout the course of a season.

You can say this about most teams, but this team specifically has to be almost perfect doing the little things correctly. Players like Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, and Andrew Luck can cover up holes or failures within their own organization. The Browns don’t have anyone like that.

Even though Crowell seems to be penciled in as the “starter,” I wouldn’t expect 20-25 carries weekly, unless the other two really struggle. This a backfield all about balance, because lets face it, Jim Brown isn’t exactly suiting up for this group anytime soon.

If the run game suffers due to injury, inexperience, and overall lack of productivity, than this will be a long year on the offensive side of the football. I know you’re all hanging on to hope that Josh McCown can replicate his 2013 stint with the Chicago Bears, but I highly doubt that we see a sequel of those events.

Let’s remember, that McCown had a bevy of Pro Bowlers around him in Chicago – Brandon Marshall, Matt Forte, Alshon Jeffery, Martellus Bennett – and he comes to Cleveland with an unproven backfield and tight end situation, as well as a makeshift receiving corp. This team will rely almost solely on the run game. Period. End of story.

With the nature of this Browns offensive line shaping up to be one of the best in the game, this team is constructed perfectly for the success of their backs. A great run game could lead to a surprisingly strong season for this team.

It would control the tempo of any game, and keep McCown and the offense out of third and long situations. As always, we’ll just have to see how this thing unfolds over the course of training camp.

What’s your confidence level of this Browns running back group? 

Next: Cleveland Browns sign a pair of running backs