A Running Back Controversy, Really?

By Kenny Roda

For the last 13 years there were two things you could count on from the Cleveland Browns. One, they had no chance of winning the Super Bowl, as they’ve made the playoffs once heading into this season since returning to the NFL in 1999. And two, there was going to be a quarterback controversy. Couch or Holcomb, Holcomb or Garcia, Dilfer or Frye,  Frye or Anderson, Anderson or Quinn, Delhomme or McCoy. While most media members have predicted the Browns wouldn’t make the playoffs this year, at least there wasn’t a QB controversy. This season was going to be that of playing young core players and building towards the playoffs for next season. So no controversy, just some growing pains. Well you can scratch that, and let the soap opera begin!

The controversy has begun as to who the starting running back should be. I personally think it’s ridiculous, but there actually seems to be a debate within the Browns organization as to who should be playing the position. It seems like the Browns want it to be their draft pick from last year Monterio Hardesty, who is finally healthy and has actually made it through two games without getting injured.  The logical choice, based on actual performance, is Peyton Hillis. He of the 1,654 yards of total offense from last year, with 13 touchdowns.  He of the 94 yard and 2 TD performance in the win over the Colts this year.

But because Hillis sat out last week’s game with strep throat, there are questions about whether he really was sick, or was he trying to make a statement that he was unhappy about his contract situation. Other players who have produced far less that he, have received extensions already this year. Was Hillis protesting by using his illness last week as a way to show the Browns how important he is to the team?  Without Hillis, the Browns rallied and then held on to barely beat the winless Dolphins 17-16. His replacement, Hardesty, had a decent game, as he rushed for 64 yards and caught 3 passes for 19 yards with no touchdowns. Based on that, it seemed like the Browns and some media members were ready to anoint him as the next Jim Brown. That’s insane. Hardesty has some talent, but he has not come close to achieving anything close to what Hillis has.

Hillis is in line to get paid well if he has another big year, but will the Browns let him? If he doesn’t equal the numbers from a year ago, it would bring his salary number down, something the Browns would love to see. So what’s more important to the Browns? Production and wins on the field, or saving money on one player’s contract? Lets hope it’s production and wins, but after watching the Titans game, it makes you wonder. Hillis only had 10 carries. He had 27 in the win over Indianapolis. He gained 46 yards against Tennessee, that’s a 4.6 yards per carry average, which is considered very good by NFL standards. So why didn’t he get the ball more? Hillis says he gets better with the more carries. You want evidence to back that up, how about his last 4 carries against the Colts went for 33 yards and a touchdown, to put the game away.

So leave it to the Browns to create a running back controversy, when there shouldn’t be one. Not if you want to win football games.  Hillis should be the starter. He should get at least 20 carries a game. He should get the ball in goal line situations since he has actually crossed it in his career, something Hardesty has not.  There should be no controversy, but then again what would a Browns season be without it.

Follow Kenny on Twitter @RoadmanWKNR




  1. Nice hands by Hardesty as well!

  2. So now it’s the browns FO/coaching staff that’ll hurt Hillis’ production by giving him less carries/snaps to save some money even though they gave Gocong an incredible contract earlier in the week. That’s as funny as the whole strepthroatbecausei’mnot happyIhavent gottenanextensionyet fiasco.

    We’ve seen how inept Shurmer has been at play calling the first 4 games of the season. To not see that he was panicking the second half and relying on throwing the ball to get back into the game is short sighted. The guy is in over his head as both HC AND OC. Rather than take a loook at what happened on the field, it’s better to make up conspiracy theories..

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