After the game yesterday, Josh Cribbs apparently voiced his displeasure with his role on the team. I have searched for video of the interview, as I wanted to hear his tone and see his body language to get a better understanding of the quote. Of course the team isn’t about to put such an interview up on it’s site, so I am left clueless as to the context of the statement- whether he was answering a question about his role or if he brought it up on his own.
Here is the quote–
“I only got the ball twice. Snaps, it’s insignificant. I want to help my team win. You get the ball to your athletes. And I feel like I can really help the team on special teams. Not taking anything away from anybody. I feel like if I want to give my all to this team, I can do that more on special teams. My role on offense when I weigh it is to special teams, it’s very insignificant on offense, so I need to re-focus more on special teams and not worry about trying to get the ball on offense and this, this and that. I need to let them do (offense) and get back on special teams. That’s how I got into the league. I’ve been playing special teams for years now and now that I’m not on it, I’m not being used to the point where I can really help this football team. I feel like I’m a dynamic special teams player and I want to re-focus back on making tackles, helping the guys out, doing my part.”
As I see it, there are two important parts to the statement. The first is about being a team player.
I don’t think anyone would question whether or not Josh Cribbs wants to win. That is painfully obvious to anyone who has followed his career. He is a winner, and wants nothing more than to see the team succeed. His desire to help on kick coverage units is another testimony to that.
Josh would also say during the questioning that “I want to say stuff, but I don’t want to be a problem. I’ll play [more] special teams because I’m not getting the ball.” And also, “I ain’t got to ask. I’m a vet, I just do. I’m on [special] teams. Get somebody else out [as a receiver].”
This might be crossing a line from being a team player to something else.
This sounds like a player saying this is how you are going to use me, or else. That isn’t really being a team player when you think about it. Hopefully, this is more of Cribbs being frustrated after a game than actually challenging his coaches in the media.
Now for the other part of the statement- is Josh right?
Is his preparation and participation on the offense keeping him off the field on special teams, and if so would he be more valuable chasing down kick returners?
Josh is right about one thing- he is one of the best in the league at covering kicks. He isn’t just blowing smoke on that one. But is that more valuable than what he brings on offense? For the season, Cribbs is 5th on the team in catches with 14. He has been targeted 25 times, or 4th on the team. He is fourth on the team in receiving yards with 183 and had the touchdown catch against the Dolphins. He is second only to Mo-Mass in yards per catch. Half of Cribbs’ 14 catches have resulted in first downs for the Browns.
That last stat may be the most important.
It seems to me that when the Browns need a big first down, Josh is one of the few people they can count on. He did it yesterday on a third and 6 on the Browns first TD drive. It was a big play of 23 yards, the longest of the day for the Browns. It was a play that honestly only Josh Cribbs or maybe Greg Little could have made.
Josh made the the statement that other receivers are ready to takeover his part of the offense. I’m not sure that I agree with his assessment. Right now the only WRs who seem to be ready to play at all are Little and MoMass, and Little is going to have his ups and downs like all rookies. My opinion? He is needed on offense still.
This question probably never comes up if the coverage unit hadn’t given up the TD. The kick-coverage team has done a pretty decent job this season heading into yesterday’s game. Even after giving up the 101 yard TD, the unit ranks 25th. Not what the Browns are used to, but perhaps that has more to do with the loss of special teams coach Brad Seely than Josh Cribbs’ absence. Remember, Cribbs didn’t cover kicks last season either. The Browns finished first in the category last year.
It would be most beneficial if the Browns could use Cribbs on special teams and come up with some Cribbs package plays on offense, but we’ve been down that road before, and with all the troubles this team is having on offense I don’t think trying to invent a new subset of the playbook is a particularly good idea. For now, I’m sorry to say Josh you may not get your way.