Benching Greg Robinson Swaps One Weakness for Another
Citing a league source, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com is reporting Cleveland Browns left tackle Greg Robinson has either been benched or is in serious jeopardy of it. If this proves to be true and they do bench Robinson, it could improve the situation at left tackle in certain respects but doesn't feel like a major move by any stretch. Robinson has actually been better than he was last year, so they'd be effectively benching a player they re-signed for $7 million despite being slightly improved.
The difference between this year and last year is the option they have behind Robinson. Last year, the Browns had Desmond Harrison who initially started the season at left tackle but couldn't play dead, so it was Robinson or nothing. This year, the Browns signed Kendall Lamm to be the team's swing tackle, who is far better than Harrison. Lamm was a reasonably effective pass protector for the Houston Texans and Deshaun Watson last season, albeit at right tackle. He was the best of a bad bunch.
Theoretically, the Browns could get better pass blocking results with Lamm at left tackle than Robinson, but get another lineman that gives them next to nothing as a run blocker. Protecting Baker Mayfield is certainly a higher priority, but it would give the Browns three offensive linemen that do next to nothing in run blocking.
The reason this move, should it happen, feels so uninspiring is because the team would still have Chris Hubbard at right tackle, who is dreadful in his own right. He probably is technically right more often in his assignment than Robinson, but he's undersized and under-powered and tends to get moved off of his spot so often that it feels worse than what Robinson offers.
Hubbard could be in a similar predicament if the Browns designate rookie Drew Forbes to return from injured reserve. Forbes has the athleticism to do everything Hubbard can but with the prototypical size and strength for the position. It might come with some growing pains, but the outlook is far better long-term.
Maybe Lamm helps protect Mayfield better, which is important, but neither Robinson or Lamm are the answer to the team's left tackle problem. They are trying to get through the season as best they can, because a real answer is likely to present itself in the 2020 NFL Draft. And perhaps that's why this report feels so underwhelming.
Lamm could genuinely improve the situation and that would be great if he's in there for the the ten remaining games in the regular season, but until the Browns find their long-term answer to protect Mayfield's blind-side, it just feels like juggling weaknesses.