Analysis. History. Perspective.

Sports Then and Now

Many Happy Returns For Josh Cribbs

Posted on December 23, 2009 by Joe Gill
As Deion Sanders said about Josh Cribbs, "Pay the Man!"

As Deion Sanders said about Josh Cribbs, "Pay the Man!"

Being a Browns fan since the late 80’s, there hasn’t been a whole lot to cheer about.

Cleveland lost to Denver in the ’86, ’87, and ’89 AFC Championships, all in heartbreaking fashion.

Art Modell stole the franchise and moved them to Baltimore in ’95.

Since the team’s rebirth in 1999, the good memories have been few and far between.

The team has had only one playoff appearance in 2002 which resulted in an epic collapse against the hated Steelers.

The Browns made another run at the playoffs in 2007, but fell short with a 10-6 record.

There has been one lone bright spot over the last few fruitless seasons in Cleveland.

His name is Josh Cribbs.

Cribbs has been nothing short of electrifying.

Devin Hester who?

Joshua Cribbs was an undrafted free agent out of Kent State where he played quarterback.

In college, he was an impact player.  Cribbs is Kent State’s all-time total offensive leader with 10,839 yards. He also holds records for rushing touchdowns (38), pass completions (616), pass attempts (1,123), passing yardage (7,169), touchdowns scored (41), and points scored (246).

Impressive numbers, but not impressive enough to be drafted.

He signed with the Browns in 2005 and was used primarily as a kick returner. Cribbs made an impact right away by running back a kick against Detroit. He averaged 24.5 yards/return and broke the Browns all-time record for kickoff return yardage (1,094 yards).

In 2006, Cribbs continued to excel on kickoff returns. He broke his yardage record from 2005 by posting 1,494 yards and another score against Pittsburgh.

The Browns had their best season in 2007 since the playoff year of 2002. Everything clicked for Cleveland. The offense, defense, and special teams were firing on all cylinders.

And Josh Cribbs came into his own.

Cribbs set the franchise record yet again for the Browns. He shattered his record with 1,809 yards and a mind blowing 30.7 yards/return average. Cribbs found the end zone twice including 100 yard scamper against the hated Steelers. He also added a 90 yard punt return for a score but the Browns still fell short against Pittsburgh, 31-28.

The Baltimore Ravens felt the full brunt of Cribbs’ abilities. Cribbs had 245 kickoff return yards and 61 yards on punts. He put his offense in position to score and score they did. Cleveland triumphed over the “Old Browns” 33-30 in overtime.

Josh Cribbs was recognized by his peers and the fans for his play in the ’07 season and was named to the Pro Bowl.

The next season was a year the Browns wish they could forget. After falling just short in the playoff chase in 2007, Cleveland regressed significantly. The team posted a disappointing 4-12 record. Their lone highlight was beating the defending Super Bowl Champion Giants on Monday Night football, 35-14.

Cribbs also had a sub-par year. He had his lowest kickoff yardage since his rookie season.  He did add his fifth career kickoff return for a touchdown against the Ravens in Week 9.

Josh Cribbs was also integrated into the offensive fad, “The Wildcat”. He scored a rushing touchdown against Buffalo on Monday Night Football.  This was a preview of things to come for this gifted athlete from Kent State.

As the NFL Network’s Deion Sanders has said about Cribbs, “Pay the Man!” The Browns will have to open their wallets to sign him after his impact this season.

Everytime Josh Cribbs touches the ball; you think something good will happen. He has become the biggest offensive weapon for Cleveland since the trades of disgruntled stars, Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow. Coach Mangini has integrated Cribbs into the offensive playbook to perfection.

Cribbs has not cracked under the pressure, he has thrived in it.

Need him to catch the ball?

Sure thing!

Run the ball?

He is game!



Even with his heavier workload on offense, Cribbs has been able to elevate his return game to a new level. Through 14 games this season, he has amassed 1475 kickoff return yards with an average of 27.8 yards/return. He already has broken his career high for kickoff return touchdowns with three so far (remember he has two more games left!). He has also added a punt return for score.

This past week, Cribbs broke the record of Gayle Sayers and Ollie Matson for most career kickoff returns for scores.

This past week, Cribbs broke the record of Gayle Sayers and Ollie Matson for most career kickoff returns for scores.

The Pittsburgh Steelers felt Josh Cribbs’ wrath during a week 14 matchup in Cleveland. He had 8 rushes for 87 yards (most of the difficult variety) and 1 catch for 9 yards.  He also had two kickoff returns for 43 yards and two punt returns for 61 yards. Cribbs’ spirited play helped ignite the Browns for their first victory over the Steelers in eons!

The following week against Kansas City, Cribbs did his best Usain Bolt impression. Cribbs had kick off returns for scores of 100 and 103 yards in the first half! With his second score, Cribbs set the all time career record for kick off return touchdowns with eight. He surpassed Hall of Famers Gayle Sayers and Ollie Matson.

For the game, Cribbs amassed 269 kickoff return yards, 36 punt return yards, 8 rushing yards, and 3 receiving. Oh yeah, he also made a pass attempt. I guess he is human after all because it fell incomplete.

Cribbs and Jerome Harrison (286 yards rushing and 3 td’s) sparked the Browns to an exciting 41-34 shootout win over the Chiefs.  Yes I said exciting!

What will Cribbs and the Browns do against the Raiders this week?

I smell another win!

Currently, Josh Cribbs is ranked #1 in the NFL in kickoff return yardage. He is ranked; yes you guessed it, #1 in the NFL for kickoff returns for scores. His 27.8 yard/return average is fifth amongst players with at least 30 run backs.

What else can you say?

I hear Neon Deion again, “Pay the Man!”

Josh Cribbs has given Browns fans like me a reason to get up from our seats and cheer.

Mike “The Savior” Holmgren, your first duty is to sign Josh Cribbs for a very, very long time!

Leave a Reply

  • Current Poll

    Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.
  • Post Categories

↑ Top