Josh Cribbs: What Is His Role on the Cleveland Browns?

Leo VartorellaContributor IIOctober 2, 2011

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - SEPTEMBER 18: Joshua Cribbs #17 of the Cleveland Browns carries the ball after making a reception against Melvin Bullitt #33 of Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 18, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana.   (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Joshua Cribbs has come a long way from an undrafted free agent, being named an All-Pro player twice as well as setting the NFL record for kickoff return touchdowns, with eight. His special teams talent is undeniable, but on offense Cribbs has been unspectacular.

Now, with the kickoffs being moved from the 30-yard line to the 35, Cribbs' return value has been mitigated. He still has the 10th best kick return average in the league with 34.2 yards per return, but is he the electrifying superstar he once was?

Cribbs undoubtedly helps in the field-position game, but with his touchdown numbers on the decline, is he as valuable as he used to be?  I'm as big a fan of his as the next guy, but the landscape of the NFL return game is changing, and guys can do what Cribbs does at a lower cost.

Obviously no one could truly replace that threat of a big play, but we have to consider how real that threat is.

Cribbs is athletic, as evidenced by his acrobatic touchdown catch in Week 3 against the Dolphins, but he does not bring the consistency that the Browns need at the receiver position.  Cribbs has caught seven passes for 103 yards and a touchdown this season, but he is by no means a reliable go-to option.  

The Browns have tried for years now to incorporate him in their offense, and while he did have a solid 2009 campaign, his skills have not translated very well from special teams to offense.  Perhaps it has been the lack of talent at the receiver position that puts pressure on Cribbs, but whatever it may be, he has simply not produced.

I know I might catch some heat from people pointing out his great touchdown last week, but would you like to know some other players with one receiving touchdown?  Kyle Williams, Matt Willis, Delanie Walker.  When touchdowns happen, it's great, but consistency is the name of the game in the NFL.  

I love Josh Cribbs, but special team specialists just aren't as special as they used to be.  Cribbs will have to show his worth in multiple phases of the game if he wants to make a real impact for the Browns this season.