Cleveland Browns: Running backs are new main focus
The Cleveland Browns must focus on the running back position heading into the 2016 season.
The Cleveland Browns surprised many by selecting four wide receivers in the 2016 NFL Draft.
Corey Coleman, Ricardo Louis, Rashard Higgins and Jordan Payton will be joining the Browns in a clear shakeup to the wide receiver position.
With Travis Benjamin joining the San Diego Chargers and Brian Hartline being released, the position is open for the rookies to take over.
The four rookies will be developed throughout training camp and the season, but getting them on the roster allows another position to be focused on by the front office and the coaching staff.
The Browns have not had a great deal of success in the running game as of late. The team combined for a total of 1,529 rushing yards last season, with Isaiah Crowell leading the way with 706 yards. He also had four of the team’s five rushing touchdowns in 2015.
Those 706 yards mean the Browns went another season without a 1,000-yard rusher, which hasn’t been done since Peyton Hillis ran for 1,177 yards in an impressive 2010 season.
That needs to change if the Browns plan of having a successful offense this year and beyond. The run game cannot be as stagnant as it has been in years past, when telegraphed first down runs led to no gains, putting the team in obvious passing situations.
Head Coach Hue Jackson knows this needs to change and has had several players from the past come in to help out.
The first person is Browns legend Earnest Byner, who has come into camp to help with the running backs.
It is great to see Byner come back and help out the team he did so well for, in a city he cares about. Getting him a job on the staff would give both Crowell and Duke Johnson Jr. a great resource to work with, as Byner has over a decade of coaching experience in addition to his days as a player in the NFL.
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The other former player, Jim Brown, is more of a national icon and luckily for the Browns, he still deeply cares about the city and the team.
He has been given a larger role with the team, which should certainly include contact with the running backs this season.
By staying away from running backs in the draft this year, the Browns are giving Crowell and Johnson Jr. a chance to prove themselves as backs of the future. In a year of rebuilding, both players deserve a shot as they have both had flashes of success in otherwise lackluster offenses.
With Robert Griffin III and the new receivers hopefully having success in the passing game, the run game should be able to have more success as a result.
And with the advice and coaching from Jackson, Byner and Brown, 2016 could be a resurgent year for the run game in Cleveland.