The Owl: It Takes Two

The Owl has some thoughts about what it means to have two running backs who both think they should start...

This is what we've been waiting for since the final play of the 2003 season – the chance to see Lee Suggs and William Green together or, if not together in the same backfield, at least a steady diet of Suggs inside and Green outside.

But The Owl has to wonder just how this is going to work. Coach Butch Davis talks about the year Kevin Mack and Earnest Byner each rushed for 1,000 yards. Readers that remember Mack and Byner in 1985 probably have gray feathers, or hair I mean, like The Owl does.

What was significant about 1985? It wasn't that Mack and Byner each rushed for 1,000 yards. It was that they each rushed for 1,000 yards and the Browns finished 8-8. Yeah, they made the playoffs, but Miami bounced them out in the first round.

The tricky part for Coach Butch Davis is finding a way to keep both running backs happy and still win. Winning has to take priority. Right now, Green is not happy. He has not spoken to the Owl or anybody else with a pen and a notepad in the locker room.

Four carries like Green had against the Redskins isn't going to make anybody giggle. And we won't even think about poor James Jackson, the guy that wanted to be traded in preseason and wasn't. He was inactive last week against the Redskins. He might be in street clothes a lot in the last 12 games.

This is a test of Green's willpower. His problems with his substance abuse last year began when he wasn't playing because of a shoulder injury. He has done everything right since returning from his suspension. He is practicing, which is more than he did when his shoulder was banged up. There are no signs Green is headed down another dark road, but Davis wants Green to know without a doubt he is still a big part of the offense.

The Owl likes that about the coach. The Owl will go to that Big Nest in the Sky some day believing Davis had it in for Tim Couch, but this proves there is a compassionate side to him.

"That was conveyed to him," Davis said. "I can't think of one single soul that is not behind him. There will be games that he will be the hero. That's just the way this league is. It takes all 53 guys every single Sunday to give this organization a chance to win. There is not one person here who doesn't appreciate all of the things that William has gone through. He's doing awesome."

Players go out of their way to say how important Green and Suggs are as a duo. Center Jeff Faine refers to them as "the two-headed monster."

Green was the one-headed monster against the Giants while Suggs was sidelined with the neck injury. He gained 91 yards and averaged 6.1 yards a carry. A 49-yard run to the end zone was negated by a holding penalty.

Green did not run as well Sept. 19 in Dallas. He gained 52 yards on 19 carries and didn't get back to the line of scrimmage six times.

Suggs had his share of negative carries against the Redskins. He gained 25 yards on his first carry and five on his second. The next three in the first half netted minus five yards. His first two carries in the third quarter were for no gain. Three others were for no gain and one lost a yard.

"One of the huge luxuries this football team has is we have a really good group of running backs and every week we're going to need all hands on deck to win games," Davis said. "This is a team game. This is about trying to win the games on Sunday."

Now that's the right attitude. Compassion is one thing, but play the best guy.

Suggs seems to hit the hole harder and make people miss better than Green does. And he works better with fullback Terrelle Smith.

Offensive coordinator Terry Robiskie suggested Green and Smith are still learning to mesh because Green played in a one-back offense at Boston College and in his first two years with the Browns. Suggs came from a run-oriented offense in Virginia Tech.

"Lee has an understanding of what we need to get done," Smith said. "I'm not saying the others don't, but when he's in there he makes it work somehow, someway.

"He's instinctive. He reminds me a lot of Priest Holmes. The dude is just like him. Give him some room to work, he's going to work. I'm glad he's on my team."

Smith is just as supportive of Green. Against the Giants Green failed to follow Smith on a play and Green was stoned at the line of scrimmage. They got it corrected and gained 13 yards on the next play.

"I'm glad William's on my team," Smith said. "There were a couple plays (against Washington) I saw William drag a couple people. I thought ‘Let me go hit somebody too.' But I didn't because I didn't want to get a flag."

The Owl is glad both are on the team, too. But play whoever is hot and worry about hurt feelings later.

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