COMMENTARY | What should the Cleveland Browns do with a wide receiver who routinely fails to hold onto the football or obey traffic laws?
Third-year WR Greg Little has shown little, if any, improvement since his rookie season. With Josh Gordon suspended for the first two games of the 2013 campaign, Little was, by default, given one final time to shine as Cleveland's top WR. He flopped and in a big way, grabbing only eight catches despite being targeted 22 times by quarterback Brandon Weeden. Drops are not an official stat in the NFL, but Little has been good for roughly four of five of those in Cleveland's eight quarters of play.
Little's play isn't the only thing that could land him in trouble. Just hours after the Browns were downed by the Baltimore Ravens, the 24-year old was ticketed for three driving violations. Last month, Little was ticketed for speeding and for having an expired license plate. He was fined $350 this past April after he was involved in a single-car accident during which Little was driving over 120 mph.
The player's physical gifts - he's 6'2'' and 220 pounds and has more than enough strength to out-muscle defensive backs when fighting for position or for the football - are undeniable. As is the fact that his quarterback cannot rely on him to catch the football in pressure situations. One Little drop on a third-and-long during this past Sunday's game against the Ravens ended a Cleveland drive that could have seen the Browns take a late lead against the defending Super Bowl champs.
Tight end Jordan Cameron is Weeden's most reliable target. The previously mentioned Gordon is set to return in Week 3. Davone Bess has reeled in over half of his targets (10 of 18). Oh yeah, there's also the fact that the Browns on well on track to yet another losing season.
So why even bother letting Little play until he gets his act together?
Some fans complaining about the team on social media websites and Cleveland sports talk radio have suggested that the Browns should completely cut ties with the inconsistent WR. That's a bit harsh of a punishment, and it's also an act that would deplete an offense that has only found the end zone once in two games. Consider, for example, how New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin deals with players who fumble the ball away, most recently running back David Wilson. Those guys are benched, sometimes for a quarter or a half, but they all ultimately get another shot.
Head coach Rob Chudzinski can learn all he needs to know about Little over the next couple of weeks. Following what occurred on Sunday afternoon in Baltimore and early Monday morning in Cleveland, Little should be dropped down the team's depth chart, beneath Gordon, Bess, Travis Benjamin, heck even beneath Tori Gurley. Chudzinski can then see how Little responds to what would be a very reasonable punishment.
A true professional would accept that he has let his team down on and off the field, and then work his butt off in practice, in training and in the film room in order to be restored in the lineup. This could prove to be a career-defining moment for Little. Only if he doesn't have the proper response should the Browns consider Little a failed experiment.
It would be a shame if another coaching staff fixed what Cleveland prematurely deemed to be a lost cause.
Zac has been following Cleveland sports since a little before his birth, and thus his heart breaks a little more with every year. He has been covering the Cleveland Browns, New York Giants and the NFL for Yahoo! Sports since 2010
- Sports & Recreation
- American Football
- Cleveland Browns
- Brandon Weeden
- Josh Gordon