Another Annual Time for the NFL
Just at the beginning of 4th of July Weekend, it was another tough time for a few NFL athletes – suspension season. Whether it’s the result of PEDs (performance-enhancing drugs), controlled substances, or other personal issues – the reason why guys will miss some games to start out the 2015 season has been announced. Knock on wood; the Browns are one of the teams not included with these players’ suspensions. Although it has occurred for them over the past few years (Josh Gordon, Joe Haden); they appear to beneficiary of this time period. Let’s look at two examples.
Sheldon Richardson – Suspended for Week 1 vs. Cleveland (First Four Games)
It was substance abuse that cost the defensive tackle of the New York Jets the first four games of the 2015 campaign. For the Browns’ sake, the duo meet in the opener – and that is one less headache the offense will have to face in New Jersey. Judging from 2014 statistics, that’s two tackles and a half-of-a sack missing from their lineup. More than that – both his leadership and ability to disrupt opponent’s running game (which the Browns value tremendously) will be sidelined as well. Therefore, rookie Leonard Williams will see an increased role in his first regular season game in the NFL. Can this suspension tilt the scales to the visitors? Like everything else in the league, time will tell – but the Browns need to capitalize on any opportunities that come their way.
Antonio Gates – Suspended for Week 4 vs. the Browns (First Four Games)
The longtime veteran of the San Diego Chargers, tight end Gates will not be participating against the orange and brown. This was due to his use of performance enhancing drugs – something that one could argue has extended his professional career. That aside, the Browns will have one less receiving weapon to game plan against when heading to the west coast. Granted, his impact would not have been as great as say Phillip Rivers or Melvin Gordon. Again, the Browns (and their fans) will accept any advantage when entering a contest. The odds to beat the bolts increased a bit; it would be nice to see the Browns finally secure some unexpected wins.
Conclusion: The Cleveland Browns need to get out of the gate well and gain some early season wins this fall. The suspensions of Richardson and Gates will certainly help, but football is still a team game. Hopefully the franchise can take advantage and turn two early games that could have gone either way to victories.