A Farewell to Armond Smith

I don’t know if it is unique to Cleveland that Armond Smith could be such a big topic of conversation, but it sure feels that way. Smith was cut in favor of Adonis Thomas yesterday after apparently getting beat out in rookie camp with shorts on. This morning on Kiley and Booms I heard Bud Shaw once again mention that at least we wouldn’t see Pat Shurmur running Armond Smith on 4th and 1 again. It goes to show that the more I mature, just how far I still have to go because it made me angry. I know Bud was just going for an easy punchline, but let’s not re-write history here.

First of all, I need to talk about a comedy rule of three that I have been obsessed with lately. I heard Aziz Ansari talk about it and I think he was paraphrasing Joe Rogan. Or maybe he was paraphrasing Louis C.K.’s appearance on Joe Rogan’s podcast? Anyway, I am continuing the game of telephone and paraphrasing the paraphraser. The idea in writing jokes is that you have to go three levels for truly good and original comedy. When a topic comes up, the first thought you have is the joke that everyone comes up with. The second joke is better than the first, but it is still probably a bit facile. The third joke will be truly original. It isn’t a hard, fast rule, but that’s the idea. References aren’t jokes and are rarely good punchlines. Using Armond Smith’s run on 4th and 1 is quite simply the first crack available and as I think I proved it is nothing more than just second-guessing the coach because it happened not to work.

So let’s get back to that play one final time as we bid farewell to a 4th string running back that won’t even be a footnote in Cleveland Browns history.

I’ll spare you all the pictures because you can go back and look at them on the original post, but let’s remember that the Browns ran Hillis up the middle on 3rd and 1. They used the identical set with Hillis and Armond Smith lined up parallel in the backfield for two straight plays. On 3rd and 1 with at least eight Titans playing up to stop the run, Hillis and his offensive line got blown up and didn’t convert.

This is what gets me so crazy when people say, “How do you run Armond Smith on 4th and 1 when you have Hillis on the team??!?!??” The implication is that Pat Shurmur for all his head coaching rookie-ness was clearly too stupid to use his big back in short yardage situations. It is silly. He did use his big bruising back and basically lined up his guys and gave them the opportunity to just beat the Titans at the line of scrimmage. It didn’t work. They didn’t get it done.

Then, Shurmur decides to go for it on 4th and 1. He lines up Hillis and Smith the same way and the Titans are lined up almost the exact same way they were on the previous play. McCoy fakes to Hillis and pitches out to Armond Smith. Smith had Joe Thomas and Alex Smith blocking as a safety was closing in the open field. Armond Smith just had to beat one safety. The 5’9″ 25-year-old with almost mesmerizing amounts of speed and elusiveness had to beat one player – safety Michael Griffin –  in the open field and Griffin trips him up around the ankles.

There’s nothing funny about that for anyone. Armond Smith had three regular-season attempts for the Cleveland Browns. That was his lone attempt in that game. He never got another chance after that. Given the opportunity, it’s hard to question Shurmur burying him after that. Armond Smith was apparently just not good enough. Given a chance in the open field with one man to beat and at least 20 yards available thereafter, Smith let a safety stop him with a soft tackle on 4th and 1 as the Browns trailed the Titans 14-6. The Browns would go into halftime down 21-6 on the way to a 31-13 defeat that wasn’t even as close as the scoreboard.

And so we end an era exactly as it started… with far too many words. That’s just the way it goes for Browns fans who wait for a team to win enough that the cutting of a fourth string running back becomes a real topic of conversation.

Here’s hoping we never really have to talk about Adonis Thomas unless he actually does something great in the NFL. A little bit of winning will all but guarantee that comes to pass.

(Photo from

  • mgbode

    I know if you put a beagle at one end of one, the fox will pop up on the other side 🙂

  • How does a play in the red zone…near the goal line not affect the outcome of the game? 

    It would mean a touchdown.  Do you know how the game of football works? 

    The problem is that there were too many “hand offs to Alex Smith-esque” moments during the 2011 season for them to be coincidence. 

  • Sure, what he said.

    I was paying you a compliment, by the way, Gary.  Accept it.

  • No…if you make excuses, you’re an excuse-maker.  If you agree that someone is a fool when they act like a fool and talk like a fool, then you’re observant enough to notice the world around you and respond to it accordingly.

  • Garry_Owen

    Sorry.  I completely missed it in the midst of the condescension.

  • Garry_Owen

    So . . . what I just said? 

  • Please see Jay-Z’s “The Takeover” for advice on how to proceed here

  • Garry_Owen

    The good thing about foxholes, though, is that you only fight for each other and not for any causes.  We’d be alright.

  • DontbringLBJback

    I have kids that play sports.  I think that my kids are far better players than they actually are.  I think I’d be a better coach than their coaches.  I think my kids should get more playing time than other kids (cause their better).  When my kid’s teams lose, I second guess everything the coach, and the other kids did, but never my kids.  I love my kids.

    The situation with the Browns is not very different.  Every single Sunday they suit up, I believe they have a chance to win.  I have to believe that, because it kills me to see them lose.  As much as I second guess H & H, I have to believe in them, because I NEED to have Hope that this team will win.

    Is it blind allegiance?  Is it blind acceptance?  I don’t know… but I do know that every Sunday from Labor Day till Christmas I wake up like a little kids waiting for kickoff, and hoping against hope that this is the day, or the week, or the year, that the Browns win it all.  What’s the point of being bitter or angry?  It doesn’t get you anywhere… not with your kids or their coaches, and certainly not with the Browns.

  • mgbode

    other side:

    a parent has kids who play sports.  he thinks his kids should be better than they play if only they could tap into their ‘potential’

    the parent derides their kid publicly during games and after practice about the plays they messed up on.   at home, the parent is on the case of the kid by constantly mentioning how they need to make sure they don’t mess up that play again if it happens.

    the parent just wants to see his kid succeed.  truly best intentions are there.  but, doesn’t see that the actions are largely negative and are doing little if any good to the kid.

  • Henry Brown

    Hillis is just standing there in the middle of the field.

  • porckchopexpress

    I don’t go to the stadium either.  However you and I watch the games, on TV, we devote time that could be spent doing other things to following the team, I would say you and I are about equally “invested” in this team.  I find it funny how you call people sheep who don’t partake in the thoroughly pointless handwringing exercise of trashing the Browns on message boards. Yes I’m a koolaid drinking sheep because I don’t spew outrage over a situation that spewing outrage WONT CHANGE.

    As for the Indians thing, I never criticized anyone for anything related to “sending a message” to the Dolans.  I constantly mock the fact that a good number of people in this town claim to “want a winner” yet they spend their money on a loser and vilify a team that has had success despite having much greater obstacles to overcome.

    As for the last bit about people “willingly buying another” and rather foolishly believing it will be different.  You are tallking about yourself.  If Policy, Davis, Savage, Mangini, Holmgren are all failures why are you so eager to run Holmgren out?  Are you saying that “the next guy won’t be a failure”?  Isn’t that the foolishness you speak of? 

  • Suggesting that I think anyone else would not be a failure is straw-manning.

    If I call a spade a spade, that doesn’t mean I have a better answer.  I know what doesn’t work, so I try not to do the same thing over and over and over that doesn’t work.

    Blind acceptance of the team hasn’t worked since 1999.  I think that’s a large enough sample size to definitively state that that method of being a “fan” is counter-productive.

    As a fan, I am their customer.  I may not buy season tickets anymore, but I am still a customer; I watch their games so the advertisers can justify their expenditures to the team/network.

    Given that we know sheep-like behavior hasn’t won us a playoff game since the team returned, perhaps it is logical to try something different. 

    And, I think it is unwise to suggest that if someone can correctly criticize a football team that they immediately have a better answer.  Do you?  Do any of us?  If your suggestion is to give them more time, that is not an answer; that’s sweeping the problem under the rug, hoping it will go away.

    Hiring a “coach” like Pat Shurmur with no experience is not the answer.  Treating fans like prisoners in the stadium is not the answer.  Lashing out at critics when your team is pathetic is not the answer.

    If not the complete opposite, something needs to change.  If the fans have to be the catalyst of that change, then so be it.  I’d rather let the “professionals” figure this mess out, but we’ve relied on them since 1999 and nothing much has changed. 

  • Yes, you do know.  It is blind allegiance.  And, it’s frightening.

    Your children, God bless them, are way more important than a sports team.  I mean this in the best way possible:  a comparison between the two is not possible.  I cannot trust your opinion because the two cannot be substituted at all.  One is vital to your world, I am sure.  The other is not.

    We are talking sports teams.  One that I happen to love; and, one that I see as mismanaged.  If a child of mine was misplayed in a game, I might have a word with the coach but ultimately, I’d council my kid first. 

    If my team looks horrible on the field each Sunday, I can’t talk to players or coaches…so where do we go?

    Blind allegiance has done us nothing since 1999.  It’s time for a change.

  • No; you are giving them a pass already for the season.

  • Mike E

     You keep pointing out what isn’t the answer, that’s easy.  What IS the answer?  Please tell me what kind of fan I should be since I am but one of the many sheep.

  • Are knowing something is wrong and having the perfect solution mutually exclusive?

  • Mike E

     Definitely not. However you continue to point out how every fan other than yourself is wrong, but never suggest a solution.  I am just curious as to what change you are looking for from the fans.  I for one have not gone to a game in years, and will not until I see improvement (winning), but at the same time I will not stop watching and being a fan of the team.

  • Toddyus

     You say, “yeesh,” as though the fact that Smith was in on both plays is immaterial to the argument. But, it’s not immaterial. It actually completely invalidates your argument. Completely.

    Now, since you developed the entire argument to essentially insult Craig, be a man and admit you were wrong. Yeesh…