Should Ben Tate Start?
As the Cleveland Browns are set to face off with the Tennessee Titans, Ben Tate appears healthy enough to play, but with the breakout of Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell, should Tate retain his starting job?
This off-season the former backup signed on to be Cleveland’s lead back. Tate had an impressive preseason, despite limited action. Through four games, he rushed for 89 yards on 22 carries, recording a four yard average. Tate even finished the first half against the Pittsburgh Steelers with tremendous stats. Despite only touching the ball six times, the former Houston Texan racked up 41 yards with a 6.8 yard average. Unfortunately, a knee injury insured he wouldn’t return for the second half.
After a bye week and missing two games, Tate is ready for action, but he does have a history with injuries. The running back spent the 2010 campaign on injured reserve due to an ankle. Since then, Tate has appeared on the injury report with various ailments with his quadriceps, groin, shoulder, hamstring, foot, elbow, and other sore body parts. Despite fighting through broken ribs for numerous games in 2013, Tate was unable to compete in the final six games.
With the “injury prone” label floating about in addition to amazing performances from our two rookies, it’s difficult to hand Tate his job back. West recorded a 100 yard game versus the Steelers and scored a touchdown in consecutive games against the New Orleans Saints and the Baltimore Ravens. Meanwhile, rookie counterpart Crowell is improving his numbers every week. In Pittsburgh, he converted five carries into 32 yards and two touchdowns. Over the next two games, the back registered 109 yards and reached the end zone once.
Although Ben Tate is “not at all” surprised by the performances of West and Crowell, he plans on starting. When asked about regaining the job Tate responded with, “Why wouldn’t I be? My mindset is to do what I’ve been doing the whole time since I’ve been here. It hasn’t changed at all.”
Even running back coach Wilbert Montgomery anticipates Tate’s return by stating, “That’s what we brought Tate here for, to be the starter.”
In the end, after one considers leadership and experience, Ben Tate should reclaim the top spot. Also, considering the money he is owed, he should receive a majority of the work. But with so much talent at the position, it’s difficult not to spread the wealth. A running back by committee approach is possible with West and Crowell proving themselves as serious threats. A rotation of fresh players will wear down a defense, but sometimes you roll with the hot hand.
Ultimately, Ben Tate, if available, will start versus the Titans. Isaiah Crowell is second on the depth chart, warranting him playing time. Although listed third on the roster, West should earn some touches. Whatever the game plan, the Cleveland Browns will manage a three headed monster in the backfield.
– Max Gold