With the start of a new season, new questions arise that can be answered by the first game. However, when the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers’ game ended in a 21-21 tie, it raised even more questions.
As such, it’s time to bring back the weekly mailbag! A couple of changes before we get started: First, the mailbag will be going under a new name, “Cleveland Browns’ Dawgie Bag.”
The other change, my cohost L.A. Broadus and I will be answering two or three questions on our podcast, the “Brownstown Podcast.” So with all that out of the way, let’s answer some questions; This is the Cleveland Browns’ Dawgie Bag!
Q: The Dawg Pound was started by Hanford Dixon and the Browns’ stout defense. Is it too early to say that the Browns have their Dawg Pound defense back? Also do you think that Myles Garrett is on track for a similar career if not better than Julius Peppers? – Jad F, Rochester, NY
A: Hi Jad! Let me start off by saying that the Cleveland Browns’ defense definitely looked it last weekend! That said, it is too early to say it.
The Browns forced six turnovers, which is impressive. Obviously, they were lead by rookie cornerback Denzel Ward, who had two interceptions; last year the Browns had seven all season. That said, giving up 472 yards is a tad concerning.
It could be due to opening day jitters, who knows but it needs to be tightened up. This has the chance to be the best defense since those Dawg Pound days but let’s see where it goes.
As for the Myles Garrett/Julius Peppers comparison, it’s very possible. It all starts with health however.
We’ve seen that Garrett can be a monster. It’s even got to the point that a new “quarterback jersey” has been started, but with all the names of quarterbacks that he’s sacked so far. Not bad for a guy who saw fans groan because of his “bad motor.” In his first two seasons, Peppers had 19 sacks, Garrett has nine in a season and one game, so he could set himself on pace.
Q: With defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah out, will Chris Smith be able to play the position well enough against the Saints? Was getting rid of Nate Orchard a good thing? – Stacey M, Warren, OH
A: Howdy Stacey, I don’t think Chris Smith will get nod with Emmanuel Ogbah being ruled out for this game. Instead, rookie Genard Avery could see significant playing time.
According to Pro Football Focus, Avery had the second highest production at the position last week, even ahead of Myles Garrett. The only one who was more productive was Chicago Bear’s Khalil Mack. That in itself is a complement.
That leads to the second part. I think dumping Nate Orchard was a good move. The front seven looks impressive so far, a lot better than it did with Orchard and even Carl Nassib.
The problem with Orchard was that he was with the team for what would have been his fourth year and has done nothing of substance. That said, it was a good move.
Q: When will Browns fans learn from the past and live in the now instead of looking for the next best thing, rushing everything before players are ready? –Dave F, Parts Unknown, US
A: Dave, it feels like we go through this every year. I have a theory though: they see a Sam Darnold in New York or a Carson Wentz in Philadelphia and think that Baker Mayfield could be that guy.
He has the motor and he has the football I.Q. but “it’s not his time.” Some people are saying week three against the Jets, I’m saying week seven against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
No need to rush, just don’t rush until he’s ready. You know what they say Dave, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink.
Q: Can the Browns dominate the Saints Offense? We got all the makings of the 2001 Ravens. – Fitzgerald, Canton, OH
A: Fitz! That’s a bold statement compadre but it’s possible. As for this week, it’s interesting because quarterback Drew Brees has been without two of his biggest targets, wide receivers Ted Ginn Jr. and Michael Thomas, who have been missing practice.
It also doesn’t help that two members of his line, guard Andrus Peat and tackle Terron Armstead, were limited in practice. When you have injuries like that on offense, the defense can do damage.
The only problem is, Brees is an elite quarterback and like Peyton Manning, like Tom Brady, like Aaron Rodgers, he can make any receiver a “good receiver.” It’s going to be fun to watch either way.
Q: Why wasn’t the team ready and fired up for their first game of the season? This is indicative of the head coach. For the last two plus years, his teams aren’t ready at game time. – Jerry D, Parts Unknown, USA
A: Hola Jerry, bold statement and I must commend you on that. However, I disagree a bit.
To say the team wasn’t fired up is one of the overreactions. When a team is down 14 points with eight minutes left in the game and they come back, to say they’re not fired up is a head scratcher. They were just late bloomers in this game.
That said, your question about being ready, I have a weird feeling that it’s possible that maybe there was some sort of communication breakdown.
It came out that coach Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley disagreed on the Josh Gordon starting controversy. So in that sense, you’re correct that the Browns weren’t completely prepared.
If Jackson doesn’t turn this team around, don’t be surprised to see Haley go from coordinator to head coach. In essence, this could have been Jackson’s last opening day in Cleveland.
Don’t forget to check out the bonus questions in the Brownstown Podcast!