Originally written on Waiting For Next Year  |  Last updated 5/15/12

I don’t know if it is unique to Cleveland that Armond Smith could be such a big topic of conversation, but it sure feels that way. Smith was cut in favor of Adonis Smith yesterday after apparently getting beat out in rookie camp with shorts on. This morning on Kiley and Booms I heard Bud Shaw once again mention that at least we wouldn’t see Pat Shurmur running Armond Smith on 4th and 1. It goes to show that the more I mature, just how far I still have to go because it made me angry. I know Bud was just going for an easy punchline, but let’s not re-write history here.

First of all, I need to talk about a comedy rule of three that I have been obsessed with lately. I heard Aziz Ansari talk about it and I think he was paraphrasing Joe Rogan. Or maybe he was paraphrasing Louis C.K.’s appearance on Joe Rogan’s podcast? Anyway, I am continuing the game of telephone and paraphrasing the paraphraser. The idea in writing jokes is that you have to go three levels for truly good and original comedy. When a topic comes up, the first thought you have is the joke that everyone comes up with. The second joke is better than the first, but it is still probably a bit facile. The third joke will be truly original. It isn’t a hard, fast rule, but that’s the idea. References aren’t jokes and are rarely good punchlines. Using Armond Smith’s run on 4th and 1 is quite simply the first crack available and as I think I proved it is nothing more than just second-guessing the coach because it happened not to work.

So let’s get back to that play one final time as we bid farewell to a 4th string running back that won’t even be a footnote in Cleveland Browns history.

I’ll spare you all the pictures because you can go back and look at them on the original post, but let’s remember that the Browns ran Hillis up the middle on 3rd and 1. They used the identical set with Hillis and Armond Smith lined up parallel in the backfield for two straight plays. On 3rd and 1 with at least eight Titans playing up to stop the run, Hillis and his offensive line got blown up and didn’t convert.

This is what gets me so crazy when people say, “How do you run Armond Smith on 4th and 1 when you have Hillis on the team??!?!??” The implication is that Pat Shurmur for all his head coaching rookie-ness was clearly too stupid to use his big back in short yardage situations. It is silly. He did use his big bruising back and basically lined up his guys and gave them the opportunity to just beat the Titans at the line of scrimmage. It didn’t work. They didn’t get it done.

Then, Shurmur decides to go for it on 4th and 1. He lines up Hillis and Smith the same way and the Titans are lined up almost the exact same way they were on the previous play. McCoy fakes to Hillis and pitches out to Armond Smith. Smith had Joe Thomas and Alex Smith blocking as a safety was closing in the open field. Armond Smith just had to beat one safety. The 5’9″ 25-year-old with almost mesmerizing amounts of speed and elusiveness had to beat one player – safety Michael Griffin –  in the open field and Griffin trips him up around the ankles.

There’s nothing funny about that for anyone. Armond Smith had three regular-season attempts for the Cleveland Browns. That was his lone attempt in that game. He never got another chance after that. Given the opportunity, it’s hard to question Shurmur burying him after that. Armond Smith was apparently just not good enough. Given a chance in the open field with one man to beat and at least 20 yards available thereafter, Smith let a safety stop him with a soft tackle on 4th and 1 as the Browns trailed the Titans 14-6. The Browns would go into halftime down 21-6 on the way to a 31-13 defeat that wasn’t even as close as the scoreboard.

And so we end an era exactly as it started… with far too many words. That’s just the way it goes for Browns fans who wait for a team to win enough that the cutting of a fourth string running back becomes a real topic of conversation.

Here’s hoping we never really have to talk about Adonis Thomas unless he actually does something great in the NFL. A little bit of winning will all but guarantee that comes to pass.

(Photo from SomeEcards.com)

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