I was asked earlier why I was "anti-Hillis" this season, and after giving it a moment of thought, I realized that this would be a better post than comment.
I understand that most Browns' fans will disagree, and that is fine. But when you look at the whole situation, its pretty easy to see, that Peyton Hillis is no longer worth the trouble here in Cleveland.
1. The Lack of Production
He wasn't good last season. His 3.6 YPC last season was almost a full yard below his 4.4 YPC in 2010. Now before you go mentioning his injuries, in the 5 games before he got hurt, he was averaging 3.5 YPC. Yes, he was actually worse before he injured his hamstring.
You want to blame the offense? Go for it, but it didn't seem to bother Chris Ogbonnaya who posted a 4.6 YPC, granted in a smaller sample size. But let's call it what it was, Obie out played Hillis last season, and I don't consider Obie anything more than a roster filler/3rd down type guy.
Before you start telling me the guy was a monster in '10, let's pump the breaks on that. Since Week 10 of 2010 through the end of last season, his total numbers are 3.72 YPC and 6 TD's (3 of those TD's came in one game alone!) over those 17 games. In fact, outside of the first 9 games of his Cleveland Brown career, this is what he has been. 3.7 YPC.
William Green had a 3.7 YPC during his career as a Cleveland Brown. This is the guy who wants big money? Really?
At this point in time, Hillis' "big year" looks more and more like the outlier, not the norm. Anyone who is expecting Hillis to be that '10 "monster" every year is going to be sorely disappointed.
Aren't we better served giving the job to Hardesty and finding out what we have? Even if he is no good, at least we know and we can move on. Re-signing Hillis just keeps around a guy who has struggled to be good and has been a pain in the ass in the locker room.
2. Locker room issues and off the field troubles
I was with everyone else, I thought Josh McDaniels was an idiot. Actually, that still is probably true, but maybe not for the reason we all thought.
Going back to '08, Hillis finished the season on a hot streak until he injured his hamstring. In four games he had 57 carries for a 5.35 YPC. After that season, Shanahan was fired and McDaniels was hired. He used a 1st round pick on Knowshon Moreno and Hillis was stapled to the bench. The entire season he got 13 carries. The rumor mill claimed that Hillis had some shenanigans with Mrs. Josh McDaniels, and that was the reason for the lack of PT. I'm guessing McDaniels didn't trust the fumble prone Hillis and decided he was better off with Moreno.
He came Cleveland and won the hearts of Browns' fans with his tough running style and ability to run over Ravens.
Since he was named Madden cover-boy, a feat that made all Cleveland Browns fans happy, the bottom has fallen out on Hillis.
First he came into this season unhappy with his contract situation. The reports are that Hillis wanted a contract similar to the one signed by DeAngelo Williams in Carolina this past off-season. The Browns weren't interested at that price, and were willing to wait on a deal. I believe Hillis was already on Agent #2 for the season.
Week three, Browns were hosting the Miami Dolphins. Hillis, on the advice of his agent, decides not to play because of his strep throat. He leaves before the game and returns home. Browns rally for the most exciting win of the season. I know we have discussed this a million times, but you are smoking crack if you think that move didn't piss off his team mates. Numerous Browns players played hurt this season.
Hillis then injured his hamstring against the Raiders in week 5. Two weeks later he is caught by cameras playing long toss games with other inactive players before the Browns game against the 49ers. He was heavily criticized by former players in the media and rumored to have pissed off numerous team mates.
Then came the no-show for Halloween charity event. It turned into a he-said-he-said affair in which Hillis' brother apparently took the blame. Not a huge deal when all by it's self, but when it is added with everything else, you start to sense a pattern.
Team mates decided to pull Hillis aside for a "meeting". The word intervention has been thrown around, while some team mates called it a routine meeting. I don't buy that it was a routine meeting, because if it was, it wouldn't have been leaked to the media. It was a "Come-to-Jesus" meeting between team mates that were trying to get Hillis' head back in the right spot.
Hillis re-aggravated his hamstring injury trying to come back. He missed 6 weeks total. Before anyone mentions the comparison to Andre Johnson, don't. Andre Johnson needed surgery to repair his hamstring injury. Hillis was goofing around two weeks later. Hillis skipped a rehab appointment to get married. Don't get me wrong, I would do anything for my wife, but how does a NFL football player plan his wedding during the NFL season, let alone during a key date for his rehab? If you think Hillis was rehabbing as hard as Andre Johnson, you have your head buried in the sand.
In Week 11, Hillis got back in the line up and was mildly effective for the rest of the season, with his good performance against Baltimore being the high point.
The post season has brought another agent change for Hillis in addition to the hilarious rumor that he contemplated retirement in order to try and take a job with the CIA. Yes, that CIA.
You can claim that the media has made more of these situations than meets the eye, and I would probably agree with you. But let me ask you this: name me one other player in the NFL who made headlines like this. You can't.
So when you take a step back, why continue to mess around with a guy who has been just okay, wants to be paid like a premium Running Back, and acts like a fool in the locker room? This franchise would be better off letting him walk, and drafting another back in the third round or later.