The trading of Trent Richardson two weeks into the season signaled that the Browns truly don’t have any intentions of playing winning football in 2013. As a fan, it is OK to stay away.
But know this, any hyperbolic statements of being done with this team is premature. For all the head-scratching non-moves the new Browns’ front office made this past offseason, most of the ones they did — mainly on defense — seem to have been positive.
This trade has a good chance of turning out to be a positive. In fact, even now it can be viewed as a positive. Richardson is gone and that is hard to digest for a frustrated fan base. The remainder of this long season is for naught.
Stocking piling losses and draft picks means the Browns will target the quarterback they want in the 2014 draft and do whatever it takes to get him. And in this era of the NFL, if that quarterback turns out to be not only good, but great, the team will find itself winning a lot of games.
The Browns are not going to win and win consistently until they find a quarterback. That is the fact of life in today’s NFL.
Another fact is using a third overall pick on a running back generally considered not to be a wise move. If that back turns out to be on par with an Adrian Peterson, then take him third. Richardson hasn’t been anywhere near that.
Peterson aside, the NFL’s top running backs are LeSean McCoy (drafted in the second round), Marshawn Lynch (12th overall), Jamaal Charles (third round), Doug Martin (31st overall), Alfred Morris (sixth round), Matt Forte (second round) and Arian Foster (undrafted free agent).
You can blame the offensive line or lack of wide receiver weapons, but Peterson almost broke the single-season rushing record last year with Christian Ponder as his quarterback and the team’s top wide out, Percy Harvin, only playing nine games.
Meanwhile, Richardson was plagued by the “injury prone” status last year and it carried into the beginning of training camp. His production was also nothing that screamed third overall draft pick or game-changer. In 17 games as a pro, Richardson is averaging 3.5 yards per carry.
The Browns have not won many football games since 1999. And the big reason why is they have not had a quarterback. It’s continued two games into the 2013 season.
Wednesday evening’s news was the smoking gun of evidence that the Browns’ brass doesn’t care about 2013. We saw signs like the idea that they need to evaluate who the core players are on this team before spending money via free agency.
They CUT Brandon Jackson. Brian Hoyer is getting the start Sunday at quarterback instead of Jason Campbell. The Browns may continue to spew talking points that this team will play hard and not give up on this season.
We all know they are tanking.
You shouldn’t care about the final 14 games, seven of which are at home. Honestly. Do something else. Root for whoever is playing the Pittsburgh Steelers. Watch the Red Zone Channel guilt-free. Play golf. Plant a garden. Put an addition on the house.
Don’t waste your time — and more importantly your money — on this team this year. It’s pointless.
But also don’t give up. Yes, that No. 33 jersey you own is worthless. You’re stuck with tickets to seven more home games that no one wants to purchase? Might as well use them if you run out of toilet paper.
“We have to earn (fans’) belief and trust in the decisions we’re going to make as a group,” Browns CEO Joe Banner said. “I don’t expect them to trust that until we prove that the trust is well placed. I understand the skepticism for now. We have to do what we think is right, move the franchise forward and get it to where we want it to be.”
Next May the Browns have a chance to right a wrong. That wrong being the botched trade with St. Louis two years ago to land the No. 2 overall pick and Robert Griffin III. Who is the 2014 RG3? Well, Wednesday’s news just freed up a few hours on Sunday.
Might as well spend it Saturday scouting college football and its litany of potential pro quarterbacks.
Hope will return next spring with the beginning of free agency and draft season. It always does. The Browns will be in position to upgrade the roster — and most importantly — the quarterback position.
Until then, 14 games remain. It is going to be a long season played in front of an angry, fed up, bitter, cynical and scarce fan base. This franchise deserves to be tossed aside in 2013, but keep it close. This Richardson trade could be the turning point for what Banner calls “sustained success.”