It has been an odd season for the Cleveland Browns to say the least.
There was plenty of drama to go around during the first year (and maybe last) of the Eric Mangini reign.
It started with commotion over a “voluntary” rookie trip to Mangini’s football camp in Connecticut.
We had the Kellen Winslow trade, an influx of former Jets, “bottle gate,” Braylon Edwards' name turning up in the police blotter, and then the subsequent trading of Edwards.
The general manager was dumped halfway into his first year.
We heard a huge uproar when a backup rookie running back was injured during “show me” sessions. But we could only make out a muffled whisper when those same “show me” sessions uncovered a pretty decent tight end option.
There was a game of quarterback yo-yo and an injury per week to a starter.
We saw Jamal Lewis whining, back-tracking, then getting injured.
We saw a horrid 1-11 start followed by a remarkable 4-0 finish.
A one-game improvement from last season to the next is not much to write home about—but 2009 was anything but boring for the Browns.
I went back to my preseason writings to see where I got it right…and where I didn’t.
While I can pat myself on the back for a number of preseason predictions, I instead will focus on how I could have completely missed the boat on one particular player.
Just so no one thinks I am too stubborn to be moved in my position, I will gladly accept any “I told you so's” on my failure to see Jerome Harrison as a featured back.
I constantly harped on the Brown’s inability to address the running back position in the offseason.
And while I may have hit it on the head with respect to the aging Jamal Lewis, Harrison turned out to be the little engine that could.
When challenged by one of my regular readers that Harrison could be the bell cow, I responded as such:
“Harrison? Absolutely love him as a change of pace/3rd down back. But if Lewis goes down...no way he carries the ball 20-25 times.”
So what does Harrison do in the final three games of the season? Oh, he only averaged a whopping 187 yards per game.
But even more importantly, he carried the rock an astounding 35 times per game!
Thirdy-five carries per game! Football fans haven’t seen that kind of workload since Eddie George hung up the spikes in Tennessee.
Harrison’s numbers should not be as surprising as it is for us to digest. People forget, myself included, that Harrison put up some huge numbers as a college football player.
While at Washington State, Harrison broke the PAC-10 record for most consecutive 100-yard rushing games (16), and led the entire nation in rushing his senior year (1,900 yards).
Listed at 5’9”, 205 pounds (and that may be a stretch), Harrison has not only shown the speed and shiftiness of which we were already aware—but he also has shown stamina and toughness which I certainly questioned.
There is no doubt that Harrison has been the beneficiary of some spectacular offensive line play over the past few weeks.
He also might want to take fullback Lawrence Vickers out for a couple of dinners for doubling as a heat-seeking missile on opposing linebackers.
But Harrison has made a believer out of me. He is more than just a little scat back.
Dare I say it? Jerome Harrison is a feature back in the NFL.