Following the trade of Trent Richardson many media members and fans derided the Cleveland Browns for their “plan” to tank. The assumption was that the Browns would be unable to compete without the stud RB and therefore would lay down for the rest of the season. If the offense couldn’t score the defense would give up knowing they couldn’t win anyway. Sunday’s win against the Vikings stemmed the tide a bit and the reaction this Sunday at First Energy Field will have a different energy then if they had lost. The team can still expect some blowback from fans but the veracity of negativity will subside with a competitive game against Ohio rival Cincinnati Bengals, a blowout and all bets are off.
MMQB did another feature on the Browns, their 3rd or 4th so far in the young existence of their site. A few things, including quotes from linebacker and leader D’Qwell Jackson, stood out in reading the article.
But Sunday, at least, was in the hands of the coaches and players, the ones who ultimately control the Browns’ fate no matter what long-term personnel decisions the front office might make. Says Jackson, “For fans to even say that we’ll tank the season, it’s a slap in your face as a player.”
- Interesting take to hear from a player. While the front office made the decision the fans reaction said something about their expectations of the players. That Jackson took it towards him, and hopefully motivated him, shows his passion for the game and winning. Hopefully fans on Sunday will cheer for the players who put their bodies on the line and give their all for the team, leaving the boos for those who don’t or for executives they don’t agree with.
“It was about the team, how would the team respond [to the trade], and seeing if there were any issues that needed to be addressed,” Jackson says. “But there were none. There were no issues that stood out to be that I thought needed to be addressed.”
- Many postulated that the locker room could become divided, angry or problematic after the trade. Some of the anonymous information the media got from inside the locker room made it clear some saw Richardson as having issues. This quote from Jackson says that the locker room moved on quickly and focused on what they had control over.
Thomas points out that ever since his 2007 rookie season, when the Browns traded starting quarterback Charlie Frye in Week 2, he’s understood that anything can happen in the NFL. But moving Richardson was still a shock. “When you go home, you wonder what’s going to happen with your future; it’s natural,” admits Thomas, who along with receivers Josh Gordon and Greg Little has been mentioned in reports as a potential trading piece. But Thomas says that if you let such distractions creep onto the field, “then you are tanking the season.”
- Joe Thomas’ definition of tanking from a players perspective is a great reminder of how their lives are different. For fans making personnel decisions that are not popular denotes tanking, for players its about effort. It showed in their win on Sunday. The players were fighting for yards, making tackles and blocking. The sense of urgency was evident, the support for their coach was as well.
“Whoever Chud feels is the guy to lead us, I’m behind it,” Jackson says. “With everything that happened this past week, hey, they know more than I do. So I’m going to continue to lead the troops, continue to do my job on defense, and let the powers-that-be make those tough decisions.”
- This quote tells fans and media all they need to know about the team. Jackson, who has been through a few head coaches, trusts “Chud” and will follow his decisions and lead the team to follow them as well. That is a leader, one who commands respect without having to demand it.