With a strong possibility of NFL Free Agency looming ahead (pending the ending of the Lockout), the Titans better be prepared. I’ve got one strong recommendation for the franchise as it heads into Free Agency: Ronnie Brown.
Chris Johnson would be the number one benefactor. Ronnie Brown has a bruising style of running, as advertised in the above picture, that can mesh with Johnson as an upgraded form of LenDale White. Brown has a higher ceiling than White and offers much better pass protection.
Taken second overall in the 2005 NFL Draft, Brown is most known for as being the face of the “WildCat” offense that Miami is well known for. If you’re not familiar with the offense, Brown would take the snap from shotgun while the quarterback would line up on the farthest sideline, so as to be away from the action. Brown would read the defense and either throw, run, or hand off. Imagine that he played quarterback but never threw for more than 15 yards and it was widely assumed that he would likely run.
At 230 lbs, Brown was viewed to be a big, bruising back and he has largely played that role. Along with the other Dolphins free agent runningback, Ricky Williams, Brown would wear defenses out. Williams, at around the same weight, delivered just as much punishment. This two-back system has been extremely effective for a number of years and it’s seen Miami through many wins. It also delivered Browns jersey to the Hall of Fame. They requested the jersey he wore during the whooping the Dolphins unleashed on New England in 2008 with the debut of the WildCat. It’s a great story, but no reason to sign him, as a runningback’s past never seems to vouch for their future.
The stats on Brown are not flashy, mostly due to playing the majority of his career in a split-back system. I wouldn’t expect Barry sanders to have numbers representative of a top-5 back in a 2-back system and Barry Sanders is widely argued as the best runningback every, though he recently stated that Emmit Smith was better.
Brown has dealt with his fair share of injuries and is well on the way to the downside of his career at 29 years old. He turns 30 in December. My argument is that he would garner around 30-40 percent of the carries. This keeps Chris Johnson fresh well into the end of the season and the playoffs (if they make it). The addition of Brown would also add a more physical presence to the backfield. Don’t get me wrong, I see Chris Johnson as a very physical runningback, but the more the better. Brown’s weight also punishes a defense more than Johnson and allows the team to plan for more space for Johnson. Brown is great at receiving and pass-blocking as well, so there is nothing given away to the defense by having Brown in. Anything would still be possible.
Brown is a high character individual that adds veteran leadership to an offense that from the outside in, could use it. Brown has playoff experience and wouldn’t get too excited once the team gets in. Add in that with a shorter workload, it’s a much smaller possibility that Brown gets injured and I see no downside. Brown owns a career 4.3 yards per carry and made the Pro Bowl in 2008.
What do you think, Titans fans? Dolphins fans, I’d love to have your opinion as well.