Accountability is an important trait for any sporting venture whether it be a team like the 2019 Cleveland Browns or a blog analyzing their play like this one here. The bye week gives an opportunity for some reflection and to ensure that accountability is being sustained. So, this week at WFNY, we will revisit the same questions answered in the season preview roundtable.
Take a read at the original answers to see where we were correct and what we got wrong. Read these to see where the Browns might need to go to rebound from their current 2-4 record.
Here we go.
Bode: Trading away a Pro-Bowl guard with the plan to replace him being a healthy scratch on Sundays and then traded for a late-round 2021 draft pick because that player was passed up by a sixth-round draft pick and a couple of backups from other rosters is demonstrative of the lack of investment the Browns have put into this offensive line relative to other positions– before even getting to the offensive tackle situation. However, the blame for the struggles goes well beyond any one position or player.
Suek: Protecting your franchise quarterback and winning in the trenches are what good teams do. The Browns currently have a serious problem on the right side of the offensive line that should have been addressed during the offseason via the signing of Trent Brown. Another current weakness on the team is Morgan Burnett at strong safety. I would have much rather signed Kareem Jackson, who has been stellar at the position in 2019 for the Denver Broncos.
Gilbert: Trent Brown would look really nice at right tackle instead of Chris Hubbard. Brown is playing well so far this season with Oakland after a strong year last season with the Patriots. He has a getable contract for a player who would be the right tackle for the Browns for many years. He would help shore up the struggles on the edges, specifically on the right edge. Though, if the recent domestic violence allegations are true, then the Browns were right to not go after Brown. Ja’Wuan James would have been another nice addition at right tackle, but he has been injured for most of the early season this year. Nevertheless, the Browns should have invested more into the offensive line this past offseason.
Poloha: Help along the offensive line is still needed and was a huge weakness even during the offseason. It would be nice to protect a guy that you believe is your franchise quarterback.
Gerbs: Linebacker is a hard position to add to, but it’s painfully obvious they need some help with run defense. Because there weren’t any big-name guys that were signed or traded elsewhere, I’ll join the pack and say offensive line. The Trents, Brown and Williams, would both and/or one or the other make this line look amazingly different and better.
Bode: Baker Mayfield will be a fine quarterback and have a fine career. Whether or not he is experienced or capable enough– in his current form– to lead the 2019 Browns to a division championship is now in serious question.1
Suek: The right side of the offensive line. Thus far in 2019, right guard Eric Kush and right tackle Chris Hubbard have allowed 25 pressures and have been called for eight penalties. Further, when running towards Kush, the Browns have averaged just 3.9 yards per carry, which is the lowest on the team. However, the deficiencies ca be hidden via play calling, chip blocking, and the usage of 12 personnel.
Gilbert: I am most worried about the offensive line. The Browns are OK with Greg Robinson at left tackle, but Chris Hubbard is a problem. Plus, right guard Eric Kush is a big hole. The right side of the line is not playing well enough. I just don’t know if we can address this unit enough during the season to the extent it needs to be addressed.
Poloha: Offensive line. Analytics state that they are playing well as a group, but I disagree. There are just too many question marks.
Gerbs: This linebacking corps, with the loss of Christian Kirksey and the exile of Genard Avery, continues to put the team in bad spots as they get gashed in the run game. Plus, they haven’t been able to cover a linebacker since Clay Matthews Sr was on the team. The offensive line is a worry, but as we saw at the end of last year, a change in playcalling can cover up many flaws.
Bode: As much as I want to say the defensive line, the defensive backfield have shown themselves quite capable even as every single starter sustained injury. Whether through scheme or skill, the defensive backs have been most reliable even after a rough game against Seattle.
Suek: Running back. Nick Chubb has been as-advertised thus far in 2019 with 607 rushing yards, 5.3 yards per attempt, and 15 explosive runs, all of which are top-five at the position group. Oh, and the Browns will add Kareem Hunt to the arsenal after Week 10.
Gilbert: I am least worried about running back because we have a superstar in Nick Chubb. Chubb is the centerpiece of the offense and the player who drives this offense. Oh, and the Browns get Kareem Hunt in a couple of weeks to add to this position.
Poloha: Running back and defensive line. Nick Chubb has been dominant and Kareem Hunt is close to returning. Myles Garrett and company have been dominating.
Gerbs: Adding Kareem Hunt to the mix with the already magnificent Nick Chubb is almost unfair. Hilliard is not an awful third-down back,2 but the speed, athleticism, and game-break-ability of Hunt will add so much more to this offense.
Bode: Myles Garrett has nine sacks through six games. There are many bad offensive lines and bad quarterbacks remaining on the schedule. 22.5– the NFL record– is probably still a long-shot… but the fact it remains even a possibility is a testament to the fun Garrett provides even if he needs to work on his run defense.
Suek: Baker Mayfield. The quarterback has been uncharacteristically inaccurate through the first six games, as he ranks 31st adjusted completion percentage (via PFF). We have seen the flashes from his record-setting rookie campaign, but he is turning the ball over and escaping clean pockets far too often. I like to think he will return to form after the bye week.
Gilbert: I most excited to see Baker Mayfield play after the bye week. I want to see how he adjusts to this up and down the first six weeks. I want to see his development and how he handles this adversity of struggling. His development and improvement will be so important and interesting to watch.
Poloha: Baker. I would love to see him find that magic he had during his rookie campaign in 2018. Bring that type of magic back.
Gerbs: I want to see what a mad Baker looks like. We’ve seen flashes, but people continuing to call him out and question his spot as a franchise QB will or should fuel him through the rest of the season. Plus some cushy matchups on the way as well.
Bode: Weird to give this to Ricky Seals-Jones despite only seven receptions for 143 yards though two touchdowns. However, he has earned it as someone needed to step up with David Njoku’s season-ending injury. I suspect he will continue to impress.
Suek: Pre-injury my answer definitely would have been cornerback Greedy Williams. I agree with Bode that RSJ has been the most surprising. He seems to have built a fairly strong rapport with Mayfield and, dare I say, outperformed the highly-touted Njoku.
Gilbert: Ricky Seals-Jones is the Rashard Perriman of 2019. Seals-Jones is a player that the Browns solely needed in the passing game when the team lost David Njoku early on in the season. I feel like his impact will continue because he offers the ability to be a reliable receiver in the passing game.
Poloha: The fact that some believe David Njoku is now expendable proves just how well Ricky Seals-Jones has played in his place. The tight end is a playmaker, one that Baker needs and can count on.
Gerbs: Is it fair to call Chubb a breakout? We all knew he was good, but the man is second in the league behind Christian McCaffrey in almost every rushing category: yards, yards per game, above him in longest run, fourth in rushing touchdowns. If he doesn’t qualify, I’ll follow the pack and RSJ and hope his emergence allows us to deal Njoku for Williams.
Bode: The Arizona Cardinals looking competent has only added to my anticipation of watching that narrative-filled game.
Suek: The New England Patriots. How incredible would it be to hand the team their first loss and IN Foxboro? Talk about narrative changing…
Gilbert: I can’t wait for the final Ravens game in the second last week of the season. It should be a huge game that might decide the winner of the AFC North. This could be the biggest game in the Browns’ history since 1999.
Poloha: Would love to answer the game in New England next week, but that one scares me. I guess I’ll go with the in-division games. If the Browns want to win the AFC North, they must take care of business against the Ravens, Steelers.
Gerbs: I’d love to run the table on the AFC North, so 6-0 against the division.
Bode: Not one WFNY staff member predicted fewer than 10 wins before the season, but 10 wins now appears to be the ceiling. A small step back to 8-8 in 2019 is the more reasonable outlook today.
Suek: 8-8 is reasonable. 6-4 down the stretch, with two games vs. the Steelers and Bengals and a game vs. the Dolphins that all SHOULD be won.
Gilbert: I am not changing my 11-5 prediction and the prediction that they will make it to the divisional round of the playoffs.
Poloha: 9-7. Let’s do this. (10-6 would be awesome though.)
Gerbs: I originally said 12-4, which means they would have to win out the rest of the season, which seems unlikely…but 10-6 or 11-5 are still within grasp. A more likely scenario is splitting the Pittsburgh series, since one of the games is in the middle of the three-games-in-fourteen-days runamok and going 9-7.