In Sunday’s hard-fought battle with the Indianapolis Colts, Rashard Higgins caught more touchdown passes (1) than Browns superstar receivers Odell Beckham Jr. (0) and Jarvis Landry (0) combined.
Hig fans were not surprised. This is what he does.
But if it weren’t for injuries to WR KhaDarel Hodge and WR Jojo Natson, Hig may not have played, or even been active. With Hig being a “healthy scratch” for the previous two games, I was terrified that the Browns would promote somebody from the practice squad instead of starting Hig.
And that could have happened. Because both Hig and David Njoku are being persecuted by the Browns again, just like last year. We all thought that it was that knucklehead Freddie Kitchens who benched Hig and Njoku last year with no reason given. And it seemed that the new head coach wouldn’t be so ridiculous. But he is. How is that possible?
Answer: because coach Stefanski is not calling the shots. Coach Spreadsheet is.
Why do I say that? Because of something that Stefanski said during the post-game love-fest about Hig:
“He was inactive there for a couple games through no fault of his own – that is just how the numbers went…”
Numbers? What numbers? Clearly, Hig should be, at least, the #3 receiver and active for every game. KhaDarel Hodge is a great special-teams player, but what kind of maniac would promote him over Rashard fucking Higgins? Stefanski isn’t that dumb, so when he said “numbers” he must have been referring to the dreaded “analytics.”
So, that explains why both Kitchens and Stefanski have appeared to persecute Hig (and Njoku). It wasn’t their call; it was the doing of Coach Spreadsheet, who also ordered the head-coaches to not reveal their subservience.
But if you were to go through that analytics spreadsheet with a fine-toothed comb, I bet you would find a cell with a buggy formula deep in the bowels that no human has looked at for years. Because even a broken robot could figure out that Hig and Njoku should be playing. For example, both Hig and Njoku have caught all of their targets this season. Both are 4 for 4 with 1 touchdown. Hodge is 3 for 6 with zero TDs. Hell, OBJ barely catches half of his targets.
And we know what Hig & Njoku can do when they do start. They were a big part of Baker smashing all of those records in 2018. We have the film for fuck’s sake.
Unfortunately, Njoku had the right idea when he demanded a trade in the pre-season. Fans were surprised that he did so, but it was the right call, and Hig should exit the Browns too. He’s wasting away under the thumb of a fucking spreadsheet when he could be a starting player at just about any other team. As much as I would hate to see these guys go, I would get to watch them play more if they did.
Browns ownership has recieved kudos this season for hiring Andrew Barry and Kevin Stefanski. Now they have an opportunity to reign in this maniac Coach Spreadsheet, Paul DePodesta. DePo did a good job campaigning for Stefanski, but now he needs to let Stefanski coach the team.
My degree is in computer science, and I am a life-long software developer. So, it’s not like I am anti-technology in football. But what DePo is doing here is infuriating. Rather, it was infuriating, because once fans realize what’s really happening, there are going to be calls for DePo’s head.
At a minimum, DePo should fess up and give reasons why players are benched. Especially fan-favorites.
But I don’t think that is likely to happen. So, enjoy watching Hig & Njoku while you can, because this may be their last season with the ungrateful Browns.