Reads Listens Views 9/20/2013

Koreans have "Han", Clevelanders have the Browns. Same thing. Photo by Erik Daniel Drost.
Koreans have “Han”, Clevelanders have the Browns. Same thing. Photo by Erik Daniel Drost.

Commentary: Trent Richardson Trade

Sigmund Bloom called me today on the heels of the Richardson-to-Colts deal. Two weeks prior, I was a guest On The Couch with Bloom explaining to him and Scott Pianowski that Richardson appeared tentative and wasn’t exploiting plays the way he should in the zone blocking scheme.

“It sounds like your observations were similar to what Joe Lombardi and company were seeing in Cleveland. You felt a tremor in the Force.”

Perhaps. But I still wouldn’t have dealt Richardson. He’s a top-10 pick. He’s capable of helping the Browns become a playoff team even if its attempt to land a franchise quarterback fails. I shared Chase Stuart’s piece on the numbers this summer. The point is about the insights you get from data and how you apply it. Trading away a franchise player seems like the wrong decision to me.

If I were a part of the Browns organization, I would have told Rob Chudzinski to change his offense’s blocking scheme. Use more gap-style plays. After Lamar Miller looked tentative against Cleveland in Week 1, they ran nothing but gap plays for Miller against the Colts and the second-year runner was far more productive and a good example of using data to your advantage.

Gap plays require less conceptual skill and highlight athleticism. Miller and Richardson are top-tier athletes. Just like Darren McFadden, they can run around you, bull through you, and hit a hole with ferocity. Limit the decision-making to one area and let them create in that smaller space and they will be more decisive runners. The Dolphins saw it work after making this switch within the span of a week.

The Browns decided the answer was to trade its top-10 overall pick from 2012.

Perhaps there’s more to the story with Richardson that has less to do with his on-field skill. We won’t know this right now. However, I’m with Grigson when it comes to his rationale for taking Richardson:

“I know the numbers,” Grigson said. “But the yardage is there. You see it when you’re watching the film. Obviously if you have a guy that’s your main threat in the offense, that’s who defenses are going to key up. Trent isn’t even near his ceiling. We’re talking about the third pick in the draft, and that’s not because he’s a ham-and-egger.”

The Colts have a gap-style ground game with traps and counter plays. This is a great match. And as Bloom shared with me over the phone, the Browns are paying a significant amount of money from Richardson’s signing bonus to ship him to another team in his prime with the hope of acquiring a (likely) mid-to-late pick from the Colts to stockpile and land a franchise quarterback.

A) I hope they can land that quarterback and B) They better be right.

The town already gave up two Super Bowl Championships because they tried to play hardball on a stadium. By the way, how many teams have built new stadiums since this ordeal that cost the Browns the Ravens? I get that the arguments for new stadiums are stupid and that the taxpayer often foots more of the bill than what they really get back for these owner-vanity projects. Cleveland was the city that was made the example or other cities to heed.

But as a former Clevelander, I can tell you that we have something in common with Korean culture. We have the Browns, they have Han (from Wikipedia):

Han is a concept in Korean culture attributed as a national cultural trait. Han denotes a collective feeling of oppression and isolation in the face of overwhelming odds. It connotes aspects of lament and unavenged injustice.

The minjung theologian Suh Nam-dong describes han as a “feeling of unresolved resentment against injustices suffered, a sense of helplessness because of the overwhelming odds against one, a feeling of acute pain in one’s guts and bowels, making the whole body writhe and squirm, and an obstinate urge to take revenge and to right the wrong—all these combined.”[1]

In some occasions, anthropologists have recognized han as a culture-specific medical condition whose symptoms include dyspnea, heart palpitation, and dizziness. Someone who dies of han is said to have died of hwabyeong.[2]

Although I am no longer a diehard Browns fan, I still have Clevelander Han and it won’t go away. It followed me to Tennessee (one-yard short). It might be following me to Seattle (Falcons playoff game).

I think the organization just made an egregious error in judgment, but for the sake of Browns’ fans they better know what they’re doing come April.

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