The Browns feel they have three good running backs, led by veteran Ben Tate. That’s generally a good problem. But when the Browns had a 2nd-and-2 from the 25-yard line and a 6-0 lead, it was the third-string back, West, who got two consecutive carries. Tate and fellow rookie Isaiah Crowell were on the sideline. A few minutes later, the Browns had botched a 4th-and-1 pass play and the Jaguars marched the length of the field for a 7-6 lead.
The maturation of West will continue until West decides to go North more often. He danced in the backfield for a 1-yard gain on second down, followed by a third down where West said he had seven yards to the edge but tried to cut inside for a bigger play and ran into center John Greco.
“I could have gotten the first down. Missed the cut,” said West, the third-round pick who has 243 yards on the season. “I was trying to go for the big play. When it comes back down to it, I should have gotten the first down.
West and coach Mike Pettine acknowledge West is aiming for the home-run play too often. But the reason why West strays from easy yards is he’s trying to impress in limited time on the field.
“On that play right there, I know I’ve got limited reps,” West said. “So when I’m in the game I’m trying to get that big play. I just have to go back to the books and take what the defense gives me.”
The Browns are fortunate to have tailback depth they like but playing time and lack of rhythm can be an issue. Both Tate and West have both alluded to this at different times.
If the Browns can adequately get all three the ball in ideal situations, golf clap for them. But that obviously wasn’t the case late in the first half Sunday. Tate is the workhorse and Crowell is an explosive back and neither were on the field for a crucial few plays. West is talented and seemed to bounce back from his inactive status in Week 6. He wasn’t ready for this specific situation.
“It’s different sometimes because running backs have to feel a defense out and get in a good rhythm,” said West about the rotation. “Everything’s going to be good at the end of the day. It’s about winning.”
He’s right. If the Browns had beat Jacksonville, then the rotation’s probably not an issue.
Picking up that first down might have sparked that win, though.