Is This Sequel Worth Watching?: Rob Housler and the Cleveland Browns
Everyone loves sequels. But perhaps only before they’re released.
Let’s take for instance my favorite “sequel” to hate (although technically a prequel), Star Wars. Of course, I’m not referring to Empire Strikes Back or Return of the Jedi, I’m referring to the prequel trilogy, and in particular, The Phantom Menace. When the movie was announced, I was ecstatic. I mean, we hadn’t had a Star Wars movie in almost 20 years, so of course I was excited. I had all sorts of visions of Han Solo pulling cons as a teenager and Luke, well, I suppose he would still be whining about wanting to look at power converters at Tosche Station, but this time as a 10 year old. And by the way, why in the world did Luke want to look at power converters? Can you think of anything more boring to do with your time? It’s like saying “Aww man, I was really looking forward to checking out those new power strips at Home Depot.”
Anyway, the point is that sometimes the anticipation for something new is better than what you actually get. Like the Phantom Menace. And sometimes the anticipation is exactly what you get. The same is true for free agents in the NFL.
No matter how bad they were on their last team, there’s always the natural instinct to say “Well yeah, but now he’s on my team, so of course he’s going to be awesome!” Clearly, the Browns management had that exact thought in their head when they made several off season acquisitions, like, for example, Josh McCown, Brian Hartline and Miles Austin. But have they done it again by signing tight end Rob Housler?
“I Don’t Care What You Smell…Get In There!”
— NFL (@nfl) April 9, 2015
After losing on Jordan Cameron, who basically decided to take the same money from the Dolphins because he had more confidence in Ryan Tannehill than he did in the Josh McCown/Johnny Manziel/Thad Lewis nightmare (and honestly, can you blame him?), the Browns signed Rob Housler to a one-year, $1.76 million contract. The deal includes a $750,000 signing bonus, so we suspect (as you’ll know if you read our article on NFL contracts) that the remainder is not guaranteed.
I’m not entirely sure why anyone believes that Housler will be able to do anything near what Cameron did. He’s never played all 16 games, never topped 45 receptions or 454 yards in an entire season and has only caught one touchdown in his entire four year career. Sure, he was a bad fit in Bruce Arians’ anti-TE offense, but he had significant drops with what opportunities he got. And Housler knows it:
“It was a blue-collar mentality. It wasn’t pretty. I can see the stats, and they’re not pretty. But sometimes it’s not all about the stats.”
Perhaps more consistent opportunities is the answer, as there appeared to be lots of potential back at the 2011 Combine, where Housler ran the 40 yard dash in 4.55 seconds and demonstrated a 37-inch vertical. Of course, aside from the Combine, it’s not completely clear even then why NFL pundits thought that Housler would be successful in the NFL.
In fact, take a look at Housler’s college stats at Florida Atlantic:
You probably had a similar reaction to what I had, which is to say his junior and senior years were decent, but not something I’d put in my top 5. Obviously, what probably caught everyone’s attention was the fact that he had the fastest 40 out of any tight end at the Combine and that he was a fairly good receiver in college. But the problem is that he’s never been much of a blocker (it was in fact one of the concerns that scouts had when he came out of college) and can be a liability on the line for the Browns when not running a route.
Regardless, it’s clear that Housler wants to be a big part of the Browns offense:
“For me, I want to be a big part of the offense. So that was a big consideration. I’m confident in my ability, and I just want to be able to contribute.”
And Housler has demonstrated patience in reaching his goals before, as he did redshirt his 2009 college season so that he could get more familiar with the offense and get more playing time in 2010. If he exhibits the same type of patience with the Browns, perhaps he can be an asset for the team in the long run.
Honestly, the Browns offense really can’t be much worse than last year, and for the price, signing Housler is a low risk proposition with upside, particularly with only Dwayne Bowe and Brian Hartline looking to headline the show as receiving options.
And even a Jedi Master would be a little nervous about that.