By Will Burge
Tony Rizzo, host of the Really Big Show, calls him “Bigfoot”. You always hear about him but never see him.
He has one of the most popular twitter accounts in the city of Cleveland with 15,000 followers and t-shirts that say “@C_Mitch18 JustSayin”.
Carlton Mitchell, to this point, has been all style and no substance.
Sunday is the day when Browns fans might finally get vindication for their love affair with Mitchell. Head Coach Pat Shurmur said in his press conference on Wednesday that not only will Carlton Mitchell be active on Sunday but they would like to use his speed and size.
Speed and size are Mitchell’s greatest attributes. At 6’3” tall and speed that landed him on the University of South Florida track team he is a matchup nightmare; at least in theory.
Mitchell can definitely add a dimension to the Browns’ offense which has been sorely lacking so far this season. He is a deep threat in every sense of the word. The real question is whether or not the Browns can use him and cash in on his strengths.
Just being on the field and running routes does not stretch a defense. Colt McCoy will have to not only trust that he can look Mitchell’s way when he is in the game, but he will also have to take chances down the field. If McCoy looks for Mitchell in routes over 20 yards down the sideline he can help pull safeties away from the line of scrimmage.
Moving the safeties away from the line will open up the intermediate routes for Massaquoi, Cribbs, and Little and allow more room for yards after the catch. It also keeps the defense from “cheating” and stacking all 11 players near the line of scrimmage to key on Peyton Hillis and Montario Hardesty.
If Carlton can effectively integrate into the offense, then all of a sudden the Browns’ receiving corps looks totally different. Mohammad Massaquoi (the ultimate “hands” receiver”), Greg Little (the big body physical punishing receiver), Josh Cribbs (the bubble screen playmaker), and Carlton Mitchell (the deep threat burner) doesn’t sound half bad.
Before any of that can happen, however, Mitchell needs to step on the field and prove that he deserves to be a part of this offense. It is easy for fans and media members to say “just throw the ball deep” but it is not as easily done.
With how hard it has been for the Browns to effectively move the ball it’s tough to justify wasting a down by throwing a deep route just to do it. If the receiver isn’t open and the ball doesn’t get intercepted, the Browns still lose a down and that can kill a drive.
Will McCoy even have enough time to look for a long developing deep route? If he does, will he feel comfortable enough passing to a guy who has not contributed on this offense yet? If the ball does get thrown deep, can Mitchell make the most of his opportunities? It looks like we may finally get some answers to these questions.
A finger injury and a lack of blocking ability have kept Mitchell off the field so far this season. Necessity and raw physical talent will give him a chance on Sunday. It will be up to Mitchell to take advantage and help change the Browns offense for the better.
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