Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

Browns need to take serious look at Dri Archer on draft day

dri archer brownsAs the Cleveland Browns continue to try and rebuild an offense that has averaged just a little more than 16 points a game for the past six seasons, there is a dynamic playmaker sitting in their backyard that would look good in Orange and Brown.

We’re talking, of course, about Kent State running back Dri Archer.

Archer had a solid weekend at the NFL combine (for what that is worth), bench pressing 225 pounds 20 times and running official 4.26 in the 40-yard dash (holy crap!). And while that may not have been fast enough to break Chris Johnson’s record of 4.24, it’s still pretty darn fast.

According to his draft profile on NFL.com, Archer’s strengths are his “outstanding burst, acceleration and top-end speed to take the corner and create big plays. Weaves through a crowd and can find daylight. Extremely strong pound-for-pound. Good versatility – contributes as a runner, slot receiver and return man.”

Because of his explosiveness on the field, Archer reminds us a lot of Eric Metcalf, who the Browns selected with the 13th pick in the first round of the 1989 NFL Draft. Despite being continually misused by the Browns over the course of six years, Metcalf still put up 9,108 all-purpose yards and 33 touchdowns for Cleveland.

Imagine what he could do in today’s offensive-friendly NFL? Now imagine what Archer may be able to do in the right offensive system.

Despite only posting one big season as a junior and being limited by an ankle injury as a senior, Archer’s career numbers match up well with what Metcalf did while at Texas and make him a player the Browns should seriously consider.

Archer ended his college career with 24 rushing touchdowns, a 7.2 yard-per-carry average and 2,342 rushing yards (compared to 23 touchdowns, a 4.5 yard per-carry-average and 2,661 rushing yards for Metcalf). As a receiver, Archer had 12 touchdowns, averaged 12.1 yards per catch and had 1,194 receiving yards (Metcalf had seven touchdowns, averaged 11.1 yards per catch and 1,390 receiving yards).

And even though he was injured for much of his senior season, Archer still have 10 combined rushing and receiving touchdowns, averaged 7.8 yards per carry and 13.1 yards per catch.

The biggest question about Archer, and the area where the comparisons to Metcalf come up short, center on his durability.

According to that same NFL.com draft profile, Archer is “very short and rail thin. Can be knocked off routes easily and struggles catching on contact. Is not ideally built to withstand a full NFL season.”

While Metcalf was only an inch or two taller than Archer, he had a good 15 pounds on him. At just 175 pounds, Archer is really small for the NFL; for example, Browns wide receiver Travis Benjamin is two inches taller and the same weight but looks so small when he is on the field.

Metcalf also proved in college he could carry a heavy load. While Archer only had 325 rushing attempts total at Kent State, Metcalf led the former Southwestern Conference in rushing attempts as a junior and was second as a senior. That goes a long way toward explaining why the Browns liked Metcalf in the first round.

But the Browns wouldn’t be looking at Archer as a first-round pick, nor would they need him as an every down back. His versatility makes him an attractive player, and the thought of him catching swing passes out of the backfield or helping the Browns spread the field along with Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron is a pleasant one.

Archer is projected as a second- or third-round pick, and while using their high second-round pick would be a stretch, the Browns hold two picks in the third round.

If Archer is still on the board when the Browns are picking in the third round, they need to give him serious consideration.

It’s only a distraction if you let it be

pettine nfl combineWe thought once the Browns hired Mike Pettine as head coach that all the nonsense would come to an end.

Yeah, bad job by us.

The latest nonsense was last week’s report at Pro Football Talk that the Browns were trying to trade for San Francisco head coach Jim Harbaugh, a report that San Francisco CEO Jed York said “isn’t true.”

It’s not hard to see Mike Lombardi’s finger prints all over this. The former Browns general manager has a connection to Harbaugh and it’s easy to see a scenario where Lombardi tried to sell Browns owner Jimmy Haslam on the plan as a way for Lombardi to solidify his self-proclaimed genius. No matter that the 49ers would probably never agree to the move.

Prior to the Harbaugh report came the news that the Browns had spoken with Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen.

Haslam came off as somewhat thin-skinned during the coaching search when he pointed out on more than one occasion that the media was responsible for creating the perception that the Browns are dysfunctional. The Browns have certainly made their own mess over the years and certainly don’t need any help in that regard, but the Harbaugh and Andersen stories do lend a bit of validity to Haslam’s comments.

The Browns have a coach in Pettine, what is the purpose of talking about Harbaugh, Andersen or any other aspect of the coaching search?

Pettine addressed the situation over the weekend when he met with the media at the NFL Combine, and his answer showed the kind of attitude that should fill the hearts of Browns fans with excitement.

“How does this affect my tenure as the Cleveland Browns head coach? Has that changed? The obvious answer was no,” he said. “I think my next sentence, I either used the word ‘flying’ followed by something, or referenced a part of a rat’s body. I think that’s noise. That’s something that has no bearing on my job moving forward.

“As far as how it affects me and my approach to how I’m going to coach this football team and how we are moving forward, (it) has zero effect.”

The Browns have plenty of work to do going forward to get this mess fixed. There is free agency, the draft, the quarterback situation and plenty of other topics to focus on.

And the last thing they need to concern themselves with is what happened in the weeks leading up to Pettine’s hiring.

Three the hard way

liverpool beat swanseaAnother day, another win at Anfield for Liverpool as the Reds beat Swansea, 4-3, on Sunday to keep pace with Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City in the Premier League race.

While Liverpool did not pick up any ground on the three teams in front of them, they did go six points clear of Tottenham Hotspur for fourth place after Spurs dropped a 1-0 decision to Norwich.

The win was Liverpool’s 10th in its last 11 home matches – they haven’t lost at Anfield since dropping a decision against Southampton on Sept. 21. The Reds are one of just two teams have not lost a Premier League game since the calendar flipped to 2014 as they have taken 20 out of a possible 24 points.

On Sunday, Jordan Henderson and Daniel Sturridge each scored twice and Liverpool need every goal as their defense once again was less than stellar, especially with the lead.

Sturridge scored just three minutes into the game and Henderson made it 2-0 at the 20-minute mark. But the defense allowed two goals over the next seven minutes to let Swansea back into the game. Liverpool took a 3-2 lead into halftime, but Swansea came back to tie the game on a penalty kick. It took Henderson’s second goal of the game, at the 74-minute mark, to bring Liverpool three much-needed points.

“We didn’t defend anywhere near well enough but once again the offensive side of our game was very good,” Rodgers told The Guardian after the game. “Up until now we have got away with it [poor defending]. It is not about coaching the way we concede goals. The way we concede isn’t structural, it is down to mistakes and decision making.”

Liverpool has been able to get away with letting in those goals because their offense is been so prolific.

The squad leads the league with 70 goals and in goal differential at 35. Individually Luis Suárez leads with 23 goals and Sturridge, who has scored in eight consecutive league games, is second with 18.

That firepower has been enough to keep Liverpool in the title race all season. But whether or not they can keep successfully walking that tightrope for the rest of the season remains to be seen.

(Photos courtesy of The Associated Press, The Plain Dealer and The Guardian)

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