Browns Must Run To Win

gary wertmanCorrespondent IJuly 29, 2009

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 2:  Running back Jamal Lewis #31 of the Cleveland Browns runs through the middle of the Arizona Cardinal defense at University of Phoenix Stadium December 2, 2007 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Kevin Terrell/Getty Images)

I'm a firm believer that a good running game is very important to building a winning team.

Maybe it's because I grew up watching Jim Brown, Ernie Green, and Leroy Kelly pile up rushing yards on some pretty good Browns teams in the 1960s. The Kardiac Kids had the Pruitts, Mike and Greg, both 1,000-yard runners. Kevin Mack and Ernest Byner smashed up defenses during the Marty Schottenheimer era.

A strong running game wears out defenses, let’s you control the clock, takes pressure off the QB and helps open up the passing game. Not to mention keeps your defense off the field and rested.

Sure, we have Jamal Lewis and his back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, but we have not been a good running team. There was no commitment to running the ball under Chud and Romeo, just talk and hope. If Lewis didn't carry the ball, it didn't get carried. We were a one-man show and that show couldn't move the ball on the ground against Pittsburg or Baltimore which adds up to four losses each year. We play in a smashmouth division, and we’re the ones getting smashed in the mouth four times a year.

Mangini said he's looking for a QB who can manage the game, have a strong huddle presence, and get people in the right positions. Sounds great, but you better be able to run the ball to take pressure off your QB.

Lewis has been a great runner for a long time, but how much does he have left? If he continues to carry the entire load, he'll struggle.

Enter Jerome Harrison and rookie James Davis. Let’s spread the ball around, after all it is a team game. Each has his own style and splitting carries would keep all three fresh and hungry. Let’s not forget the fullback either. Lawrence Vickers is athletic and strong. I say let’s use all our talent, which is something the past regime refused to do.

Anderson or Quinn, Brady or DA, whichever wins the QB battle will need a strong running game to lean on and help him develop.