This week's Questions segment is with the Chris over at DAWGS BY NATURE, another of the great SB Nation family of Sports Blogs. With the Broncos heading to Cleveland this weekend to face the Brownies, I figured it would be a great time to get his take on what's going on with the Browns.
MHR -- The Browns are off to their worst start since returning to the league in 1999. Though 1-4 may look bad, is this team better than their record?
DBN -- This team is definitely better than there record. When you take a look at teams like Oakland, Detroit, Tampa Bay, and Tennessee, they've gone down in several games without a fight. The Browns have had a difficult schedule to begin the season, and have been "in the game" every week except against the Bengals. Last year, the offense was led by Trent Dilfer to begin the season, we didn't have Braylon Edwards playing, and Kellen Winslow was out. This year, we have Edwards, Winslow, and Joe Jurevicius, but things just haven't clicked as they should have. A lot of that has to do with the playcalling our offensive coordinator Maurice Carthon, who has frustrated Cleveland fans ever since he took over last season. Our defensive approach has been the same as last year, but we've been fortunate to have survived three of our top cornerbacks being out part of the year, with Gary Baxter missing most of the season, Daylon McCutcheon missing the entire season, and Leigh Bodden missing one game. For Denver fans that don't know though, the Browns' special teams unit is probably the best in the NFL right now.
Our kick returner has nearly broken four touchdowns in the past two games we've played, our punter has been consistently downing punts inside the 20, and our kicker leads the NFL in touchbacks on kickoffs. In a way it's kind of sad, but our special teams unit has kept us in the game the past two weeks we've played.
MHR -- Have you seen sufficient progress from this regime that past two seasons to warrant a long-term commitment from Browns fans?
DBN -- Although the record doesn't show it, the mentality does for the most part.
All of the previous regime's first-round draft picks were pretty much
failures: William Green, Courtney Brown, Gerard Warren, and Jeff Faine.
Granted, Faine and Warren are starters elsewhere now, but out of those four picks, not even one of them lived close to their expectations with the Browns. With the new regime, Braylon Edwards, Kellen Winslow, and this year's pick, Kamerion Wimbley, have been three of our top players.
Local veterans have been brought in via free agency to bring stability to positions as well, which have made the fans happy. However, despite all of these actions, if they can't put a winning season together by next season, a long-term commitment may be the last thing we're thinking about.
MHR -- Charlie Frye has shown an ability to move around the pocket and make plays, but has also made some questionable decisions. Do you think he'll be the long term answer at quarterback for the Browns?
DBN -- Yes, I truly do think he'll be the long term answer. When you watch him play, he still makes too many mistakes, partly because he hasn't even played a full season yet. He doesn't have the luxury of a good offensive line either, the reason he has taken a beating this year already. Luckily for us, he has been tough enough not to go down with an injury like Trent Green, Chris Simms, and Steve McNair have. Frye's turnover ratio looks ugly, but three of those have been the product of tipped balls that have hit the receivers in the chest, while others have been him trying to carry the team on his shoulders after a series of poor play calling. And, if the Browns want to have consistency on offense, it's important that a quarterback debate not be an issue. We're tired of the Tim Couch/Kelly Holcomb, Jeff Garcia/Luke McCown, Trent Dilfer/Charlie Frye, and Charlie Frye/Troy Smith debates. I mention the last one because many fans feel the Browns should go after Troy Smith next year, the current quarterback at Ohio State University.
MHR -- the Browns and Broncos have struggled on offense this season. When you look at both, who do you give the advantage to this weekend? The Browns O Vs. Broncos D, and the Broncos O Vs. Browns D?
DBN -- Unfortunately, I have to give it to the Broncos at the moment. Although I am envisioning the Browns doing some positive things coming off the bye week, the Broncos have the advantage. It seems that Denver has been very conservative the past several weeks, but they're still able to win because the offense isn't losing the game. If you saw the Browns game against the Panthers, we shot ourselves in the foot right away when a pass bounced off of Dennis Northcutt and into the hands of a Carolina defender, who ran it in for a touchdown. The Browns defense has played tight coverage this year, but have not forced turnovers. Our running game has struggled with Reuben Droughns, but he is finally supposed to be healthy from a shoulder injury coming off the bye week. Unfortunately, that may not matter, since our offensive line has been pretty bad.
MHR -- Who do you think will have a bigger chip on their shoulder, former Bronco Reuben Droughns or former Brown Gerard Warren?
DBN -- It would have to be Gerard Warren. He has no reason really, since he absolutely stunk and annoyed Browns fans for several years. He thinks he was the scapegoat for all of our "problems", but he needs to remember that we had a new regime that got rid of him, and he wasn't the only one we turned away. It's not like the Browns gave away a Pro Bowler after several great seasons either - we gave away a big, fat, lazy blob that always bragged but never brought the goods. With how "dumb" he is though, as Cleveland fans have come to know, he'll have a chip on his shoulders just to try and prove that he is right. It was a little surprising when Droughns was traded to Cleveland after such a big year with Denver, but on the same note, every running back seems like they can do the same for Denver. Even Mike Bell was about to be the starter, and could probably run for 1,000 yards if he was still the starter. I think Droughns is still upset, but understands the reason for his dismissal at the same time.
MHR -- There was a lot of clamoring during the BYE week for major changes in the Browns Offensive scheme, specifically a change at Offensive Coordinator. What did you want to have happen, and should Maurice Carthon have kept his job?
DBN -- It's easy to say "fire Maurice Carthon!", but who would we have replaced him with? It's not like you can just hire an offensive coordinator during the season; you'd usually have to promote someone on your own staff. None of our staff members have proven to be offensive geniuses, so I don't know if we could've done much better this year with someone else. However, what supposedly will happen is that Romeo Crennel will take over some of the offensive playcalling when he sees fit. Granted, Romeo isn't an offensive minded coach either, but hopefully he understands some of the problems we're having offensively. It may seem crazy, but our defensive coordinator, Todd Grantham, would probably do a better job than anyone simply because he fires people up. Carthon just...doesn't seem to do anything.
MHR -- OK, enough small talk. Browns V. Broncos, who ya got?!?
DBN -- Ok, time for Denver fans to see my prediction and say "ahh, this guy's an idiot!" I'm taking the Browns to defeat the Broncos this week, 17-13. I try not to be a homer in my picks, since I've only chosen the Browns to "upset" a team once, which came against the Baltimore Ravens(a game we literally let slip away). I picked us to lose to Cincinnati and Carolina, but against Denver, it seems like a team that will always keep someone in a game. Don't worry, after the game, if we lose, I'll come over here and give Denver their rightful credit. One thing I am looking forward to this week is either Quincy Morgan of Gerard Warren taking a big shot. I don't mean an illegal shot, I mean simply seeing them cost the Broncos - all of the Browns fans are fuming at these two and the crap they are talking. I know Denver fans think Droughns is an idiot for thinking Morgan's comments were related to this year's team, but Browns fans were glad that Droughns responded. He basically defended the history of our team, something we still take pride in despite several losing seasons. We're sick of people like Morgan and Warren acting like they were the lone angels in a group full of bad guys - guess who the "bad" guys were in the minds of Browns fans during those years? It was people like Morgan, who dropped every ball that came his way, and Warren, the biggest bust of them all.
Thanks for the questions John, and good like to the Denver Broncos! If you want to know some more takes on this week's game, check over at Dawgs By Nature, the Browns' version of Mile High Report.
And thanks to Dawgs By Nature for answering our questions. Great job, except for that score, but we'll let you slide on that one...If you want to see how I answered DBN's questions to me, head on over to Dawgs By Nature and check it out.