Josh Cribbs Questions His Role with the Browns

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.

  • Harv 21

    Memo to: Holms

    You are a legit, successful head coach. You are not yet a legit head of football ops for a team. Free tips:

    – You say that coaches need room to grow, and that your door is open, but a laissez-faire approach isn’t the only way to effectively oversee them. Sometimes a newbie gets sucked into a whirlpool and needs a rope. When the team comes out this listless and confused after the bye-week, it’s a sign that things are spinning too fast for the coaches. Pull him out of the water now, this week, before he’s out of reach of even your big strong flipper.

    – The young locker room generally admires and follows the best players. Hillis is one of the best players. Cameras showed him apparently barking at Shurmer yesterday. Cribbs is one of the best players. Cribbs undermined his HC by telling reporters at his locker how he should be used. Cribbs has learned that that in a hero-starved city his opinion matters and he can use the media to get what he wants. Order Shurmer to be the alpha, to shut Cribbs up, right now, or the Shurmer ship, she be sinking. The young guys are watching Cribbs to see what will happen now, and maybe learn how to get what they want too. Make Shurmer understand that if the pack chooses its own alpha he is toast, that Heckert will not purge his own players to save the coach.

    – Talk to the fans this week, in your grandfatherly but powerful way. Calm us down, tell us this is the right HC, he will be here a while and things will get better. Imply that the players better jump on or be pushed off. The players are listening, they want to be led, and they are looking for their alpha.

    You have the cred with us. But effectively manage this now and show you can oversee an operation, or risk losing it.

    You’re welcome.

  • Well said Harv.

  • stin4u

    This locker room is headed down the wrong path right now. Shurmur and his staff need to sit these guys down and explain who the bosses are.

    This was going to be a lost season anyway but if you do everything you can to lose the locker room and the faith of the players in your first season, that is a problem.

  • sam

    Dear Mike Tyson–I mean Josh Cribbs: Stop complaining so much, you over-paid crybaby. On any other team you wouldn’t get a shot at WR, so just be happy you can even get a shot with the Browns on offense.

  • Tom

    I’m done with Shurmur calling plays. He can’t prepare a team or call plays, so he needs to focus on one of those aspects. He doesn’t seem to have any idea what his team or the other team is doing. A terrible coach so far and I see no signs of improvement. They ate getting worse and don’t trust his judgment.

  • Lyon

    I agree with what Josh is saying. Either use him as a WR (more than 2 throws a game) or just put him on Special Teams.

    No point in him being our 3rd WR and average return man when we can have him be the best return man in the game & only see the offensive side of the ball on rare occassions..

  • khdenn

    One of the biggest wins in the past decade for the Browns was the Thursday night home win against the Steelers a couple years ago.

    In that game Cribbs got the damn ball….over, and over.

    Just sayin’

  • christopher

    To me, this is the perfect thing to happen for this team.

    Josh Cribbs as great as he is on special teams wouldn’t crack another respectable NFL teams top 2 wide receiver corps.

    Josh belongs on special teams returning kicks, punts and gunning.

    Move him, Robiskie, Norwood, and all the others aside to make room for a free agent to be named later, Blackmon and Little.

    oh and like Harv said, Holmgren, you may not be the “coach” but this is still your house. Put it in order before it is abandoned and burned to the ground.

  • stin4u

    Re: Cribbs

    With Peyton possibly injured we could use another running back. I still don’t understand why they never tried it.

  • Ben

    In that win vs the Steelers it was Cribbs out of the wildcat over and over and over…

    We can’t do that anymore though because Colt needs to throw 2 yd slants on 3rd and 12 to our 3rd best TE because we are running the west coast offense.

    How fun.

  • Lyon

    @ Ben… how sad it is that that statement is probably the best description of our west coast offense.

  • mgbode

    Josh Cribbs didn’t say anything we haven’t been saying. It’s pretty obvious he is 100% correct. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the coach told him he was making that move and Cribbs went to the media to make it seem like his idea (Cribbs does like to have a ‘voice’ in the media for better and in this case, for worse).

    Anyways, in the grand scheme, it’s much ado about nothing and shouldn’t affect the team going forward. We have bigger issues. Like, you know, being able to gain yards outside of garbage time. Or having the defense show up when it matters (they played well, except the 1st drive and the late 8min drive. Unfortunately, those were the 2 biggest drives of the day)

  • BuckeyeDawg

    We have taken the best special teams player in football and made hm mediocre at everything. Either get him the friggin’ ball on offense, or let him go back to being the best special teams player in football. Josh is 100% correct.

    And yes, Holmgren needs to nip this dissent in the bud right now, or it’s going to get ugly real fast.

  • Shamrock

    Cribbs was overrated by everyone – fans and Browns alike. He bamboozled his way to bigger bucks and game over. He’s not a WR and never will be but he is probably the fastest. He belongs on special teams or as a third down specialist. Out of backfield, in the slot or something like it.