Ah, sweet, merciful bye week. A week with an opponent whom even the Cleveland Browns can no doubt finish with an all important bye week. Many might already have their Sunday afternoons freed up from the disaster of football that has been put before us, but the rest of the diehards will be given a respite before the final four-game push. As such, there’s not too much worry about breaking down every component of the ins-and-outs of the Browns, so we’re going to have a bit of fun here too. Don’t worry, we’ll get to some Browns specific questions, but do they really deserve the whole article?
Here we go.
Outside the painted lines
What is your favorite family holiday tradition?
Craig: I’m not much for tradition to be perfectly honest. I don’t like to do the same things over and over and I like to disrupt things frequently. We haven’t built a sense of holiday tradition that I would consider to be that strong. The only thing I could point to is going on vacation a day or so after Christmas and being someplace warm for the New Year. This year will be our third year in a row doing that so I guess that’s becoming a tradition and I sure do like it.
Joe: My favorite holiday tradition is opening stockings with my family on New Year’s Day. In my family, we wait to open our stockings until New Year’s Day. So, it’s like two Christmas Days!
Michael: Christmas Eve is more fun than Christmas day to me. We stoke a fire, break out hot chocolate, and let the kids open their stockings (which are homemade by my wife and as big as their legs). White Christmas is played at some point, and the whole evening is much more relaxed than the hustle of Christmas itself.
Josh: Christmas Eve consists of church after dinner then to House of Hunan with my best friend’s family and a few others, and then out to a party to celebrate the holidays. Christmas is usually at my aunt and uncle’s, where we will watch plenty of basketball (Cavs!) and football (the fact that Christmas is on a Sunday this year is tremendous), while stuffing our faces with ham, my aunt’s way-too-hot cheesy potatoes, and plenty of other deliciousness. But, the biggest and most important thing (and my favorite tradition) is that I spend much of the two days with the people I love and care for the most.
Scott: Our holidays are pretty standard. My Dad’s side gets together on Christmas eve; Santa comes on Christmas Day. Christmas music and coffee while we open gifts. There’s the requisite giant clean-up festival while my mom heads to the kitchen. The NBA will eventually be turned on as the Christmas Day slate is impossible to pass up for any sports fan (shout out for the Cavs game being moved up instead of having to figure out a way to watch it during dinner time). Dinner in the late afternoon—ham and such—eventually evolves into cocktails galore and a game of Cards Against Humanity or Heads Up on the iPad. Either way, fueled by Christmas Ale, it always ends up in plenty of laughs (save for when you have to explain some of the white cards to your mother).
Pat: My mom makes a massive amount of cookies of all different kinds. On Christmas Eve we usually go to church together, then come home and eat an obscene amount of cookies. We drink egg nog with brandy mixed in and everyone opens one present.
Dave: My wife Mary Ellen and I started our own tradition when we got married. Since her family does a Christmas Eve event at night, and my family does a Christmas day event during the afternoon on Christmas, we spend Christmas Eve day eating delicious brunch food that we make, drinking alcoholic milkshakes and binge-watching a pre-selected series.
What holiday dish does your family do better than anyone else’s family?
Craig: I don’t know if we do it better, but our Christmas dinner selection is unmatched. We used to do ham and any number of other proteins for Christmas dinner, but now it’s a stuffed tenderloin every single year. A homemade horseradish sauce on the side and other side dishes and it’s everything that Thanksgiving wishes it could be.
Joe: My family’s hanky pankies are the best. It’s a sausage, ground beef and cheese combination on little rye bread slices. They are the family’s favorite food for the holiday and my cousins always make sure we have the hanky pankies.
Michael: One might not consider guacamole to be a traditional holiday fare, but that one would not have tasted the guacamole that my wife makes. It is ridiculously good to the point where it is a required side at every single major family event, and it is ravaged despite the familiarity. Other than that, I’m a sucker for sweet potatoes prepared as if they are a dessert with brown sugar, butter, and marshmallows.
Josh: Are Christmas cookies considered a dish? Well, even if they aren’t, I’ll put my mom’s and aunt’s cookies up against anyone else’s.
Scott: Standard fare on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I can’t say I’d claim culinary superiority, but I never leave hungry.
Pat: My mother makes a mean Jell-O salad with cherries, pineapples, and pears mixed in. I know there are other things in the salad, but I have no idea what they are. All I know is they taste good.
Dave: My mother-in-law does some ham and cheese sandwiches that her family treats as if they were crack, and my mother makes miniature beef wellingtons that are amazing. And I make a bacon/ranch/cheese potato casserole that is pretty darn good.
How big and crazy do your family gatherings get for the holidays?
Craig: Eh? We’re a pretty reserved crew. Other than the few times that the Browns played on Christmas Eve and some arrived at festivities hammered from the game, we’re not that nuts.
Joe: My family gatherings usually consist of about 15 or so people and it’s always a fun time. We play games and those games can get heated. Nothing like family!
Michael: While my parents in Ohio break 20 through the holidays quite easily, my Texas family is much more confined. We bring six to the table ourselves, then add in my wife’s parents, two sisters, and a brother-in-law. Eleven total people and that is when everyone can make it.
Josh: Before my parents divorced, gatherings used to be outrageous, with my dad’s side having 30-40 people and then my mom’s side with 15-20. But, now with just my mom’s side mainly, it’s an average amount for a gathering. Things don’t get crazy whatsoever unless there has been a lot of alcohol consumption later in the night and we start playing card games, one of which could possibly be Cards Against Humanity, which is always embarrassing with your mom and aunt around.
Scott: As I mentioned in my post regarding Thanksgiving traditions, my family is super small. I think our Thanksgiving dinner had 10 adults? I would assume Christmas dinner to be the same with Christmas Eve at my aunt’s house potentially being a bit larger as the extended side typically ventures over.
Pat: Thanksgiving used to be a huge event with 20+ people coming together at my grandparents’ house, but that was before my grandmother passed away. Christmas has always been more of a low-key affair. It’s just my immediate family with spouses and children. My grandfather is usually there and will have his girlfriend with him this year. So we’re looking at two grandparent types, two parents, six from my generation, and four from the next generation for a grand total of 14.
Dave: My wife is one of 10; there are 12 grandchildren (so far). I am one of four; there are 11 grandchildren (so far). There is no such thing as a small event in our family.
If all quarterbacks are healthy, then who should start the final four games?
Craig: Griffin. Griffin. Griffin. Kessler is alright too, but I don’t feel any urgency to see more of him right this second. He’s a third-rounder, not making that much money, and he’s definitely going to be here next season to compete for a job. I can’t say the same about RG3. I know there’s a lot of disbelief in RG3, but his physical talent and ability are undeniable. I still think that if you believe Hue Jackson has a way with quarterbacks and think he can make Kessler good, that it’s disingenuous to not extend that – at least somewhat – to Robert Griffin III. We’ve seen quarterbacks get ruined by situations and it’s hard to have faith in the Browns’ current “situation,” but we’ve been pleasantly surprised by Cody Kessler. I haven’t completely eliminated the possibility that we couldn’t be pleasantly surprised by Griffin. I’ll play him for that 20% chance or whatever you might think it is.
Joe: Robert Griffin III. I changed my mind a couple games ago when I saw Cody Kessler was playing. He is just not likely the answer at quarterback. But, the intrigue of Griffin gives me the opinion that he should play the last four games. We saw just one game from Griffin. Let him play four games so that we can get a more clearer picture of what he can be for the team. Is he done or can Hue Jackson turn him into the team’s franchise quarterback? The last four games could help answer that question.
Michael: I firmly do not believe that Griffin is the future at quarterback as I do not believe learning how to read defenses and the ability to keep awareness of receiver routes while scrambling is an easily learnable skill. However, Kessler has not exactly shown that he is ready to be behind center either and limits the offensive threats downfield. Not to mention he has already suffered two concussions. So, there are two less than ideal options, but I think we all agree that either is better than Josh McCown and the fumbles. I would start Kessler to allow as much development time for him as possible, but I won’t be upset if Griffin is trotted out there in an attempt to squeeze a victory from his feet and deep ball threat.
Josh: Is it possible for Robert Griffin III to stay healthy for four consecutive games behind this offensive line? Probably not. Anyways, start RG3, if he gets hurt then put the rookie in. For what it’s worth, I think, at times, Dave and I could be a better O-line alongside Joe Thomas than what the Browns put out there at times.
Scott: Robert Griffin III. Josh McCown isn’t the future. We’ve seen Cody Kessler for multiple games, and he still refuses to throw the ball within a normal window of time. I need to see what RG3 can do from here out.
Pat: I’m completely turned off by all options at this point and I really don’t care who ends up playing quarterback for the last four games. I would like to continue to see Cody Kessler play, but it seems as if he has hit a wall in his development and I fear for his safety playing behind that miserable offensive line. He’s played reasonably well for a rookie, and it might be best to put him on the shelf until he has another offseason in the program and can work on some things. I still think there is a chance that Robert Griffin III can put together some good performances on the field, but I’m past the point where I think he can ever stay healthy long enough to warrant paying starting-quarterback money. I am ready to move on and I just hope that he can have one game where he completes several long bombs for touchdowns and gets that one win to avoid historic futility.
Dave: RG3. Cody Kessler is a young guy who has a future, but getting him killed doesn’t help anyone. People have been talking about Josh McCown like he is a Peyton Manning type figure, a once great QB whose body is failing him. No, he was never actually any good. It is time to finish the RG3 experiment. He has good targets, and he is probably best at working with the busted up O-line we have right now, so let’s see if we can get some good use out of him.
What is the most important aspect for the coaching staff to focus on during the bye week?
Craig: Pick the QB and tailor the plan to that guy. The Browns are taped together with duct tape at this point with the injuries on the offensive line. I’m hoping they plan for it by doing some really quick passing and moving the pocket.
Joe: The running game. The Browns rushing attack has been horrible. The coaches need to focus on what they need to fix in the running attack. They also need to see that they have to rely on it more in the gameplan and not go away from it as the game goes on, like many of the games have transpired this season.
Michael: With John Greco now on the IR, Hue Jackson and staff need to figure out someway, somehow of cobbling together a semblence of protection for whichever quarterback lines up behind center. The pressure being generated by the past few opponents has far exceeded the actual talents of those teams. If the Browns will have any chance, then it will start there. Defensively, with A.J. Green out, Horton can scheme to shut down the running game and dare Andy Dalton to beat us.
Josh: The fact that you didn’t lose this week (yay!). But seriously, just prepare for one of these last four games so you can win one and not go winless this season. With how bad the offensive line is and the injuries, they need to figure out a way to not only give the quarterback some time in the pocket (and not get him hurt), but also to open up some holes for the run game as well.
Scott: Getting their résumés grammatically correct? Honestly, with Cincinnati being their best shot at winning a football game, if winning is truly what they yearn to do, they need to spend the entire time scheming for a team that has to plan for two different games over that same span.
Pat: They need to figure out what each defensive player does best and tailor a defensive game plan towards those strengths. The HBT needs to determine which players are keepers and which players are expendable before the 2017 NFL Draft, and up until an improved effort on Sunday, just about every player on the defense looked like they were expendable.
Dave: Morale and attitude.
Will the Browns go winless for the 2016 season?
Craig: I should say yes based on logic, but I’m going to say no. I want them to win one game. It’s hard not to win at least one game.
Joe: I may be naive, but I truly believe the Browns will win a game this season. I am circling the Cincinnati Bengals on the schedule. I believe the Browns will beat the Bengals after the bye week.
Michael: I’m waiting for the 49ers to win a second game as there is a definitive difference in asset value between the No. 1 overall and No. 2 pick. And, I don’t mind having the trivia of this particular team going 0-16 to properly demonstrate just how poor the past several seasons have been for the fans. Still, Hue cares too much for me to bet against this team jumping up and sniping one win away at some point even though there are only four more to go. Sorry RGB.
Josh: My heart tells me no, solely because I don’t want them to be one of two teams in NFL history to go 0-16, but my gut tells me that they will because they’re the Browns. Thank God for the Cavaliers and Indians (and Ohio State Buckeyes).
Scott: In my estimation, their only shot at winning will come against Cincinnati after the bye. Two weeks to prepare for a bad team that has suffered more in the way of injuries than they have is all they have. Key on stopping Tyler Eifert, and find a way to methodically move the ball, and you got yourself a win. Revert back to your inability to stop the run and get decimated in the time of possession battle, and you’re staring at 0-16.
Pat: I still believe. I can’t imagine that they won’t win one of these last four games. The Browns seem to play the Buffalo Bills well regardless of who is on either team, so that’s my best bet for a win.
Dave: I hope not. I’d like at least one win. I don’t want to join the infamous list. And frankly, I don’t necessarily want the pressure that comes with the No. 1 pick. No. 2 would be fine with me.