For the second year in a row, wideout Corey Coleman has suffered a broken hand after a Week 2 match up against the Baltimore Ravens. As alarming as this occurrence is, it’s hardly as concerning as how the Cleveland Browns receiving corps looks with Coleman out of the picture.
The team, to its credit, is relying on the tried and true cliché of “next man up.” This indeed sums up the situation the Browns are facing. There’s just one issue.
Who the hell is the next man in this situation?
Therein lies the problem in Cleveland, and it’s one the team could’ve avoided had it put more effort into upgrading the position of wideout over the offseason.
Apparently the Browns felt as though drafting four receivers in 2016 was enough work to cover two season’s worth of football. However, one of them – Coleman – is dealing with another injury. Two others – Ricardo Louis and Rashard Higgins – have had flashes, but not much else. The latter was Cleveland’s leading receiver this past Sunday, which has resulted in his being elevated to starter on the most recent depth chart.
Who knows if Higgins can replicate his out-of-nowhere Week 2 performance. However, since the Browns really have no other solutions, they’re forced to hope he can.
With such a thin receiver depth chart and the fact Coleman was really the only threat to be found, one would think Cleveland would’ve made some moves in free agency to help the cause. Technically it did, but since the one move was signing Kenny Britt, this hardly counts.
Seen as the Browns’ attempt to replace the departed Terrelle Pryor, the former Los Angeles Rams wideout has had a disastrous start to his time with the team. His preseason was underwhelming, and hopes he was merely saving himself for real football have been significantly dashed two weeks into the year with a brutal drop in Week 1 and blatant loafing in Week 2. Clips of him dogging it on his routes have circulated throughout Twitter, forcing coach Hue Jackson to have to answer questions about his effort throughout yesterday’s postmortem press conference.
Britt, for his part, doesn’t seem to care. He scoffed at questions about his starting job being in jeopardy last week and spent Sunday night tweeting emojis in indifference.
Yet, he’s still Cleveland’s No. 2 receiver. As much as Jackson would likely love to bench him, the fact is there aren’t options when it comes to replacing him.
This is certainly a tough spot to find yourself in upon hearing your best wide receiver is out for an unspecified amount of time. The cupboard was bare to begin with, and now it looks even worse. The Browns have to pin their hopes on a few various scenarios working out, none of which are comforting.
They can hope Britt took the first two weeks of his season to get all the crazy out before becoming a legit contributor. Or that Higgins and Lewis can become actual diamonds in the rough. Or that late offseason pickups like Sammie Coates, Kasen Williams or the newly re-signed Jordan Leslie can surprise everyone.
I wouldn’t feel comfortable putting my money on any of those outcomes coming into fruition. If anything, Cleveland will see this whole ordeal as more reason to avoid ignoring such a key position on the roster next offseason.
Until then, the Browns have no choice but to pray someone actually does step up from the wideout room. Otherwise, they may be forced to rely on drastic measures.
Casey Drottar is an independent sports writer. Subscribe to his podcast, or follow him on Twitter and Facebook