The 2013 Cleveland Browns season didn’t have extreme expectations, but it forecast optimistic progression for certain players like Brandon Weeden and no. 3 overall pick Trent Richardson, both of whom showed promise last season.
Well, Browns fans had their hopes and dreams crushed again. Weeden has been mediocre all year and has not shown any semblance of an NFL quarterback. He has nine touchdowns and interceptions in only eight games, and has probably seen his last days in a Browns uniform.
Richardson was not making the progress that the new regime was hoping to see. In the only two games he played in, he averaged 5.2 yards per carry combined, and only rushed for 105 yards total. That was enough for them to trade him to the Indianapolis Colts for a first-round pick. So far, it is paying off. Richardson is only averaging 3.0 yards per carry and has only had one game with 50-plus yards.
With Richardson gone, along with Montario Hardesty and Dion Lewis hurt, the Browns needed a running back in the worse possible way. They tried out Willis McGahee and Fozzy Whittaker, who was signed off of the San Diego Chargers practice squad, but neither provided the desired results.
Some fans will say their failures can be attributed to the conservative play calling by Rob Chudzinksi, while others will say that the backs just aren’t talented enough. Most would agree with the latter, and even with “fullback” Chris Ogbonnaya making the most of his opportunities as the running back, the Browns still aren’t getting adequate production from the spot.
In comes Edwin Baker. Baker was signed last week off San Diego’s practice squad. Just like Whittaker, he is another player from Norv Turner‘s stable of running backs that he picked last year with the Chargers. He would be the fourth running back the Browns tried out to give them some sort of running game since it has been nonexistent all season.
The Chicago Bears have the worst rushing defense in the league, and it showed. Baker’s first carry went for 10 yards, and would have possibly went for a score if the blocking was better. He got seven other attempts and made the most of them. He fought for extra yards, and did not go down on first contact.
He looked like a poor man’s Ray Rice, but with the strength of Washington Redskins back Alfred Morris. He scored a touchdown in the third quarter and made it look easy. He has good elusiveness, hits the hole quickly and accelerates after first contact.
The Browns could have found a gem in Baker if they let him play to his ability in these last two games. It is obviously a one-game sample size, but Baker had 4.8 yards per carry for just 38 yards with a touchdown. The running game has been abysmal, but Baker could change it from being a need.