Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

Browns lock up their cornerstone

Josh Cribbs, Peyton Hillis and Joe Haden may be the heart of the Browns, but Joe Thomas is clearly the hardworking soul of the team.

So it was no surprise that the team and the Pro Bowl left tackle have agreed to a seven-year contract extension worth $84 million, including $44 million guaranteed.

And you don’t have to read too hard between the lines to realize that the changes that team president Mike Holmgren and general manager Tom Heckert have made since arriving in town played a big role in Thomas staying with the team.

“We’re really building something special with Tom Heckert and Mike Holmgren and I think this program is headed in the right direction,” Thomas told The Plain Dealer. “It was really important for me to make this a real long-term deal so that I can finish my career here.

“I’ve been so impressed with coach (Pat) Shurmur and the staff that he brought in and the way he teaches the players. Tom Heckert’s been drafting guys I really want to be around and I want to be part of this really great thing that’s going on now. The way the team has picked up the new offense, plenty of mistakes have been made, but you can just see the potential there. It’s so exciting to be part of it.”

It’s nice that the Browns finally have players of their own that we want the team to resign to these kinds of deals. In addition to Thomas, it’s pretty easy to see deals like this down the road for Haden and Alex Mack. And (dare we say it?), if things go well, Colt McCoy.

Add a few more players to that core group and the Browns might actually make Thomas’ wish come true.

“I know a championship is coming to Cleveland and I have to be a part of it. That’s everything. That’s why I wanted to do a long-term deal. Five years ago when I started this thing, that was my top goal on my list was to bring a championship here and I see the huge strides we’ve made.”

***

Staying with the Browns, we have more evidence that Pat Shurmur thinks touchdowns, not field goals.*

“If you’re going to be a team that’s going to score points, you have to be able to throw it and throw it efficiently,” Shurmur told The Beacon Journal. “I will throw the ball in the red zone, for sure.”

Shurmur’s philosophy was on display Friday night against Detroit as quarterback Colt McCoy was 5-of-6 for 55 yards and three touchdowns on plays from inside the Lions’ 23-yard-line.

“We’re attacking,” Cribbs told The Plain Dealer. “We’re West Coast offense, pass first, run second. Even in the red zone. “The days of running the ball up the throat, of being a running team, AFC North, those days are over. This is the West Coast-style offense and they want straight passing.”

The good part is the Browns can run the ball; if they can add even an average passing attack to their offense it will really help the team take another step in the right direction.

***

Finally, Real Clear Sports ranked the 10 best college quarterbacks to switch positions in the NFL, and it’s no surprise that two Kent State players are on the list – Julian Edelman and Cribbs.

*Sarcasm font is activated at 30 percent.

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