Heckert: Running back will be a “very big positive” this season

Tom Heckert saying that the running backs will be a positive in 2012 isn’t much of a statement considering that the Browns took Trent Richardson third overall. But that’s not all he was saying when he talked to Mike Florio on PFT Live.

I think it’s pretty safe to say we draft a guy third overall, he’s going to be the guy. But we do think we’re going to need extra backs. You know, last year going into the season we thought we’re in really good shape at running back with Peyton Hillis, Brandon Jackson, and Montario Hardesty and it turns out all three of them got nicked up. So, you know, we do think it’s a position where you better have a couple guys and, you know, we have obviously Brandon Jackson and Hardesty coming back both, so we think it’s going to be, from last year where it was probably a weak spot for us, we think it’s going to be a very, very big positive for us this year.

Of course it concerns me a bit to rely on both Montario Hardesty and Brandon Jackson even as backups to Trent Richardson this year considering they both were injured last season. I don’t think even the most positive fans are looking to usher in the Chris Ogbonnaya or Armond Smith eras of the Cleveland Browns.

Other than the backups, I’m quite excited. After hearing Trent Richardson on The Bull and Fox show yesterday I can’t wait to see the kid get going. He has a humble confidence in the way he talks about leaning on his experience while also looking to adapt to the new surroundings in the NFL. It has been a long time since the Browns had a guy with the potential to back up confident talk from an offensive standpoint. Maybe Kellen Winslow was the closest, and he couldn’t stay out of his own way with his off-field injury and talking a bit too much.

[Related: Getting to know your new Cleveland Browns: Brad Smelley]

  • From ESPN Insider:

    “Trent Richardson scored 24 touchdowns last season at Alabama. That’s four more than what the Browns offense scored in 2011.”


  • Natedawg86

    In fewer games too!

  • JNeids

    Why yikes? It should be “Yay!”

    Talk about instant upgrade. Look to the future, not the past.

  • Oh, I’m excited; I’m just also shocked at how inept our offense was last year.  How anemic.  It worries me that the same “genius” in charge of the 2011 “offense” is also in charge of this one.  With such a rare talent like TRich, I hope Shurmur can get his head surgically removed from his @$$ quickly enough to form an offense that utilizes his amazing abilities completely. 

    I worry that the one time we get a top 10 talent on this team at a skill position he will suffer under a ridiculous and inept system where 3rd string TEs get hand offs in goal-line situations.

    That’s my concern.

  • I know, think about that.  And, it’s not like people were surprised by him; everyone in the NCAA/SEC knew that ‘Bama was going to run the offense through TRich, but he still prevailed.

  • TheRobot57

    It’s going to be a baptism by fire for TR. There is still no passing game to keep defenses honest. I hope he does well but this will be a rough first year.

  • I think Weeden will find WRs more frequently than Colt did.  I’d say a 35% improvement in the passing game and a major improvement in the offensive line will alleviate some of the fire.

  • TheRobot57

    We led the league in drops this past season. I don’t see what we did to correct that. Like I said before, it doesn’t matter if Weeden can throw bombs through hoops. Hoops don’t catch passes and neither do our recievers.

  • Catching the ball is a matter of fundamentals and is something receivers can work on and improve – especially Little. 

  • porckchopexpress

    There is no doubt the Browns receivers were bad, but I kinda feel like a good portion of drops came because balls were thrown behind, low, high, or late, which caused the receivers to often have to reach for balls and get hit immediately as the ball arrived.  Good receivers make those catches, we have bad receivers, who need a QB to get the ball to them fast and with accuracy. If Weeden is that guy then at least some of the drop problem should be better. 

  • mgbode

    see S-JAX production under Shurmur in StL.  you’ll feel better 🙂

    2year average:
    1325yds (325carries) 5TDs 50rec 350yds

    SJAX 2nd best career year was under Shurmur (8yr career)

  • mgbode

    the “hope” on alleviating some of the drops:

    1. WRs more comfortable with their responsibilities, routes = less thinking = easier to just catch the ball.

    2. Greg Little not being a rookie nearly 2 years removed from playing football.

    3. TRich catching most at RB instead of Hardesty and others (who dropped 5 in the Tenn game alone – i think officially it was 4)

    4. Weeden’s cannon.  The hope is that the balls arriving quicker (and hopefully not behind the WR) means that they will catch and move on.   Honestly, this one is a bit of a fallacy IMO as I think it would even out as some will arrive quicker than anticipated and bounce away too (think Mallet vs. OSU in the Sugar Bowl).

    5. TE being a position of strength?   With Watson, Moore, and maybe Cameron, we should have pass-catching TEs.   Hopefully, we are able to find ways to utilize these guys more this year (and hopefully Watson can stay healthy).

  • mgbode

    I was really hoping we’d pickup a RB late in the draft or maybe one in UDFA.   There’s got to be someone out there that has the capability of really pushing Hardesty for his spot.   If he just needed a year to get back from his injury fully, then fine, he’ll show it.   If he just can’t make the jump to the NFL, then he’d get pushed out.

  • technivore

    Hey, I liked Armond Smith. Do we still have him on the practice squad or something? Seemed like a guy worth hanging onto for when all three of our top RBs get hurt again this year (because that’s what happens when you’re the Cleveland Browns)

  • Alligator arms don’t catch passes, either.  And, those are caused by poor QB performance.

    Colt McCoy is the problem.  I hope Weeden is the answer.

  • Kildawg

    We have guys pushing Mo Hardesty, named Chris Ogbonnaya and Armond Smith, for that 3rd RB spot. Thinking that Ben Watson is trade bait (Oakland maybe as they have little room to really sign someone and maybe get a quality WR/LB/DB depth, Miami another possibility).

  • floydrubino

    I agree. And obviously Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati’s defense is comparable to Ole Miss and Mississippi State’s defense. And Mark Ingram won a heisman on that offense and look how dominant he is with a great o-line and incredible offense.

  • Jeremy

    I agree.  The offensive line didn’t help Colt either.  He was awfully gun shy back there, and rightfully so.  Hopefully the line will be better so that Weeden can stand confidently in there.

  • floydrubino

    More than this even receivers and quarterbacks need timing to get better. This is why most receivers don’t make an immediate splash because most nfl offenses have balls thrown in the air before the receiver has turned around and when they make the jump in the nfl they have to run perfect routes with great physical cornerbacks trying to prevent them from getting to a spot. 

  • floydrubino

    I hope he is Barry Sanders jr. They just picked a guy #3 overall and don’t even have an established offensive guard on the team. If Schwartz and Ryan Miller work out then Richardson has a chance. I’m more worried about our offensive line play then our running backs.

  • mgbode

    if we trade Ben Watson, then who is our TE who can block & catch?

  • mgbode

    we did draft an OG.  Miller.  we also drafted Schwartz with the #37 pick.  
    and, we have Pinkston and Lauvao back who started to look better as the year went forward.   they are young as well and should continue to improve.

    if Schwartz answers our RT riddle, then we’ll have a top10 OL in the NFL IMO.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    That is truly a profound statement Heckert is a genius.  I would hope when the #3 overall pick is a player you traded up one spot in order to draft that it’s a “very big positive.”  I’ll go a step further and say Richardson will need to be everything and more based on everything else done in that draft ESPECIALLY if he’s behind a rookie QB.

    The backups, if you can call them that, are just plain scary.  Please stay healthy TRich, please.  I think it’s clear Hardesty will be afforded every opportunity to go out and get hurt again.  Maybe one more year on the shelf will finally be the end but we’ll see what happens.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Who is going to coach them, Shurmur?  The Rams never had any decent WRs while he was there and still didn’t a year ago.

  • Slooz

    I honestly don’t understand why Ogbonnaya gets no love. Should he be a starter? No, and certainly not now with Richardson in the fold. But as near as I can tell the only reason he keeps getting dismissed by everyone is that his career began as a practice squad/backup type guy — that’s a terrible reason to not give a guy a chance, as it’s only indicative of how his ability was judged previously by others, not on how good he can actually be. When Ogby got a game or two to learn the offense under his belt, he was the only Browns RB last year (including Hillis in all of his games but maybe 1 or 2) who seemed to look like a viable NFL running back. Watching them go back to Hardesty and Hillis after Ogby put up those 100 yard games was PAINFUL.

    I’m not saying he’s the second coming of anything, all I’m saying is give the guy a chance to beat out Hardesty and even Jackson, and maybe he shows you something. If his good performances last year were a fluke, you don’t lose anything. But it’s no reason to be dismissive of the only guy who provided a modicum of offensive enjoyment to watch last season.

  • mgbode

    I think he needs to beat out BJAX for the 3rd-down RB slot.  BJAX is a prototypical 3rd down guy and Heckert seems to love him.   Gonna be a tough road.

    StL is a tough game to judge him on (the Rams were the worst rush defense in the NFL last year).  But, he did impress me vs. JAX.  and, I wanted him used more against Baltimore (he at least was doing things on the field).

    And, he’s on the roster, so he will be given a shot.   Let’s see what he can do.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    You have what 4 others: Moore, Smith, Cameron and the guy they just drafted.  Watson can get hurt, Moore can play 2-5 downs a game, Smith can run the ball, Cameron can shoot basketball YouTube videos and the new guy can watch and learn.

  • Steve-o

    My concern is that Trich will be overused. His touches must be limited, especially as a rookie. We are far from being a superbowl contender so there is no reason to grind the knees of our only offensive superstar into pulp.

  • Chucky Brown

    im with floyd

  • cleveland__rocks

    i think their offense will also be much improved with an OC this year. 

  • Yup

    I wish someone could explain to me how having a RBdraftedrhis highwillhelp the team you know, actually win? Everyone agrees he’s not as a good as Peterson and what has Peterson really done for the Vikings as far as winning? Again, as with Weedon, people want to act like all these players exist in a vacuum! Running backs don’t win you division titles or super bowls! I’m not sure they even win you games. Maybe one or two a season? Yet, the Browns just made that non-game-winning position the #3 pick in the draft!!! Seriously, how can one intelligently think that is a good move?

  • floydrubino

    Oh yeah I forgot that we drafted all star guards and tackles for sure. There is no doubt that these guys are amazing players who will dominate the league for years to come. I watched a couple of their you tube highlights and now know these guys are all pros for years to come. Schwartz is slow and weak in the upper body and if Miller can’t beat out Pinkston or Lauvao that means that we didn’t improve our line. I hope they work out but we missed out on the real talent of offensive linemen going after Weeden way too eartly.

  • mgbode

    you wanted an early OL pick, Heckert gave you an early OL pick and yet you aren’t happy.

    if we would have drafted DeCastro at #22, then we likely trade up from #37 for Weeden.   then, sure we have a better RG, but we have a HUGE gaping hole at RT.  

    we can’t use every pick on the OL, it isn’t prudent.  Pinkston and Lauvao showed some progress last year.  I suspect Miller will sit for a year, get stronger and learn (late round picks usually do).