Cleveland Browns: Eric Wright Must GO!!
Eric Wright was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the second round of the 2007 draft. He slipped to the 2nd round after previously being projected as a 1st round pick due to some character issues in his past. While Wright hasn’t had any character issues that I’m aware of since entering the NFL, his career certainly appears to be in jeopardy.
Wright showed some promise early in his career, but it’s my opinion that this is mostly due to the overall lack of talent of the Cleveland Browns and so he was starting by default. Due to a strong off-season lead by Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert with a strong draft and some key free agent acquisitions, the Browns are as strong of a team as they’ve been since 1999. Despite their 3-6 record, the team has been competitive in every game and had legitimate opportunities to have won several of these games.
Obviously the team is still a little ways away from being a perennial playoff contender and there are some significant deficiencies on the team. But due to tough, physical, smart play, the team has made some serious noise in the NFL after knocking off the Saints and the Patriots and coming so close to knocking off the Jets. The holes that still exist on the team are the only thing saving the coaching staff from some serious criticism for Eric Wright‘s awful play this season.
Eric Wright has struggled mightily in man to man coverage all season and yesterday showed us that he can’t even play zone coverage with help over the top. In the matchup against the Ravens, Wright was beat and beat badly by Anquan Boldin for 3 TD’s in a game that the Browns held a 4th quarter lead. He has honestly looked like a bad college cornerback against the NFL’s elite WR’s all season.
Yesterday, due to the injury to Sheldon Brown, Eric Wright was forced to cover Santonio Holmes of the New York Jets. Santonio is easily the Jets best WR and the former SuperBowl MVP is one of the best WR’s in the NFL. I know Rob Ryan and Eric Mangini didn’t have much choice in leaving Eric Wright in the game due to the injuries, but he was left one on one against Holmes on multiple occasions. Wright looked lost, overmatched and he made 2 unforgivable mistakes.
Wright was beat badly by Santonio Holmes on one occasion where he interfered with Holmes on a long pass leading to a huge penalty and a Jets score. And after the team fought for nearly 75 minutes in a deadlocked game, Eric Wright was beaten badly on a play where he didn’t appear to be giving full effort. With 16 seconds left in overtime, Mark Sanchez hit Santonio Holmes on a quick slant where was in coverage with safety helping over the top. There is no question that T.J. Ward is also at fault as he missed the tackle on Holmes as well, but 90% of the blame is placed squarely on Eric Wright.
Eric Wright played incredibly soft coverage despite having help over the top. Given how he’s been beaten badly all year, I guess I don’t have a problem with that. But if your starting CB doesn’t have enough confidence to play tighter coverage than that when he knows he has safety help, then he shouldn’t be on the field. I know Brown was hurt, but I have to think that Mike Adams would have been a better option at corner at this point. Wright allowed Holmes to catch an uncontested pass and then completely whiffed on the tackle. He didn’t even slow him down enough to help T.J. Ward out as he was then forced to make an open field tackle on one of the quickest, fastest, and most elusive WR’s in the game.
In a game where the team has fought and clawed for 75 minutes, and yes there were other opportunities to win the game, you cannot give up a play like that with such a weak effort by Wright. I don’t care that you’ve struggled all year, you have to at least give full effort and he didn’t. He is honestly the weakest part of the Browns entire team. Yes, even worse than the weak WR corps. I understand that the coaching staff doesn’t want to bench him and potentially ruin his confidence forever, but he’s costing the team games. At some point you just have to pull the plug on the guy and with the team competing in every game, and where one play can make or break the game for you, I think the time is now.
Joe Haden has played incredibly well in his rookie campaign and there is no question that Haden needs to start along with Sheldon Brown (if healthy). I’ve heard others suggest that Eric Wrightneeds to be moved into the slot, but with the effort he put forth yesterday, I don’t even want him on the field. Mike Adams made some great plays yesterday and he is extremely versatile, playing both safety and corner. I’d much rather see him get the assignment on the slot WR as Eric Wright has done nothing of value for the team all season. Someone… anyone… has to be a better option than Eric Wright as we’ve watched him get destroyed each week.