Before anybody else says it, yes I do realize that I have been spending an inordinate amount of time over the past several days focusing on the Cleveland Browns, more than the Pittsburgh Steelers’ other two division rivals. Ordinarily I try to keep things pretty balanced between the three teams in terms of coverage, but when the more interesting or noteworthy (or closer to relevant) stories center around one team, I go with it.
And I have to say that the most interesting team in the division right now is the one that gets featured on HBO—and the one that has a very recent former member of the Steelers’ coaching staff on theirs. The Browns have sure found ways to capture the public’s imagination without having to stoop to actually winning games.
One player who hasn’t had much issue attracting attention to himself is wide receiver Jarvis Landry, who was traded to the Browns early in the offseason after the Miami Dolphins gave him the franchise tag. After the trade, he ended up signing a long-term contract with the team that will earn him over $15 million per season.
And he hasn’t been shy about being open and vocal about his opinions—of himself, of the Browns, of the league, and of his former team. He has been critical of the Dolphins and how they used him, both in terms of the coaching staff and the quarterbacks he’s worked with, and has compared his surroundings in Cleveland favorably to his time in Miami.
He has seemed to take a liking to offensive coordinator Todd Haley, coming over from Pittsburgh, and the feeling has been mutual. The wide receiver told Aditi Kinkhabwala that “he doesn’t just treat me as a slot guy”, evidently the way he felt with the Dolphins, saying that he has been given about three times the number of routes in the playbook that they want him to run.
Landry also doesn’t feel limited by his speed in working with Haley, who has a history of working with very good wide receivers who were not the quickest in the league, such as Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin. “The best player of my generation is Larry. He runs a 4.7. I run a 4.5. I should be okay” working with Haley, he said.
More importantly, as both of them are newcomers to a team that has gone 1-31 over the past two years, and coming over from teams who have at least known what it’s like to have a winning record and reach the postseason, they are also on the same page from an attitude standpoint.
Both of them have been fairly open about what they think about the culture of the team and what needs to be changed. I can’t help but wonder if there will eventually be an impasse between those who want to shake things up more and those who want to continue as normal, believing that the talent is there to make the difference.