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Mailbag Week 7

Juice Is Loose

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This week we had @Amherstcavsfan @AZ_ and @Randolphkeys answering a few questions.

1. What is your biggest concern you see heading into second half of the season?

@Amherstcavsfan: To put it bluntly, Baker Mayfield. If Freddie doesn't quite work out, these things happen. If the defense slowly crumbles from over use and defenses not being real in the NFL, these things happen. And if all those things turn around and they are all strengths at the end of the year, it still will not matter. Baker Mayfield is the future of the Cleveland Browns and what the fans and organization has seen in these first six games is simply not good enough.

Baker was drafted to be the franchise, the money maker, the guy that when everything goes wrong, he's the guy you can count on. And so far this season, Baker has been anything but the guy you can count on in the big moments. He has been turnover happy, although mostly undone by bad luck, and has come up short in big moments. What we need to see is that fire breathing dragon that we saw against Cincinnati, that guy in the second half against Houston who wouldn't go away quiet, or the guy in Denver that, when having an off game, did just enough to secure the win for the Browns.

@AZ_: Baker Mayfield. This should come as a surprise to nobody. But he's been terrible thus far and the offense will not be better until he is more efficient with his chances. His accuracy is a huge question mark, but it all stems from the rhythm and timing with his wide receivers and whether or not he can stay mechanically sound enough to overcome his bad habits and make plays down the field.

@Randolphkeys: Everyone wants one easy scapegoat, but the problem is more nebulous: basic mental mistakes manifesting itself on the field. The Browns are the most penalized team in the NFL, tied with Atlanta with 57 penalties. They lead in yardage in penalties as the only team above 500 yards. I can't even specify this as a defensive or offensive, or even positional coaching problem. Lining up in the wrong place, failing to maintain proper gap integrity on defense, running sloppy routes on offense... the team has struggled to maintain a sense of attention to detail. This is a new system on offense and especially defense with a lot of roster turnover. The lack of continuity has caused the team to defeat themselves for entire stretches of otherwise winnable games.

2. With Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams set to return in week 8. Will we see anything different on how the Browns will play defense?

@Amherstcavsfan: What the Browns have right now is steady, dependable, and reliability with Mitchell and Carrie. What they lack in big pass breakups or interceptions, they have been making up for in not allowing big plays and being reliable enough to not short circuit the defense. I would expect getting both Greedy and Denzel back will allow Wilks to be more creative with blitzing and his coverages. Going man to man is now a situation where you would expect the Browns to dominate rather than get ate alive like they were against Seattle.

@AZ_: Lord I hope so, but I think Mitchell and Carrie have done an admirable job of filling in while the two rest their soft tissues.
Having the longer, more athletic Ward and Williams allows the Browns to be more creative in their blitz package and play a bit more aggressive. But after a month off, I'm curious how ready either of these two corners will be to compete with guys settling into their mid-season groove. They'll both need to step in and shake off the rust quickly before we jump to conclusions that they will automatically be better.

@Randolphkeys: I actually see the cornerback group as a great strength of the team, not a problem. This is like discussing the downside of Jaimie Gillian's magnificent mane of ginger locks. The two veterans in their prime have been average level starters, replacing a young group that should have been in the discussion for Pro Bowls. I see the pass defense struggling most after the run defense has been gouged. When the front seven is too focused on getting after the QB, they lose their gap integrity and the defensive backs make the tackles. By mid-game, the play action puts cornerbacks in bad positions of trying to stop everything. I hope Greedy and Denzel balance the coverage duties and run support more successfully.

3. The Kevin Zeitler for Oliver Vernon trade seems to be a topic of discussion for Browns fans as we've seen the struggles on the offensive line this year. At this point in the season, do you still stand by the trade?

@Amherstcavsfan: Absolutely. For all of Zeitler's ability and his play at a position of need, he is still not as valuable as taking a shot on a great edge defender like Olivier Vernon. And while his pass rushing ability hasn't seen an uptick, his run defending has still been good and he has been in the back field quite a bit. The second half, as he continues to adjust playing the strong side, should see more productivity in his pass rushing numbers.

@AZ_: The deal seems like mostly a wash, but John Dorsey was unable to bridge the gap at RG in replacing Zeitler. Vernon hasn't been that productive, but he has maintained a pretty good pressure (21). He's missed a few too many tackles, but overall he remains a tough matchup on the end opposite Myles Garrett.

@Randolphkeys: I certainly stand by the deal. Some fans wanted a seamless transition from losing Peppers and Zietler, but reality is Corbett fell flat and the strong safeties aren't difference makers. None of that changes the established professionalism and talent of Vernon and OBJ. They are adjusting to new roles with the Browns. Vernon is switching back to the right side after several seasons on the left. OBJ missed most of the summer when he should have been getting used to Baker's timing. I can't say these moves failed until the season ends, and even then they stand to be better in 2020. There is no question both players have been among the best in the NFL at what they do for the past few seasons. I think fans are caught up in what was lost while forgetting what was gained. A losing record will do that.

4. The officiating has been highly scrutinized this year. Some of the calls we've seen have been awful. The Browns had a few against Seattle go against us, we saw the end of the Lions/Packers game, and a no call on a fumble in the Cardinals/Falcons game. What can the NFL do to fix the officiating, if anything?

@Amherstcavsfan: Unfortunately, the NFL has a problem where rules enforcement is so subjective that everyone has a different view on how it should be enforced. With newer, more specific rules to both protect players and allow the ability for review to get problems righted, the NFL has course corrected too much. The Pass Interference Review has been nothing short of a disaster and most have openly wondered if officials aren't overturning calls because they simply don't like the rule or the 2nd guessing of the call. The blindside block has been an abomination, with teams getting unfairly called while other, far more obvious blindside blocks are slipping through the cracks.

What needs to happen to help correct this problem? A great purge of the current NFL game day refs would be a great start. Far too many have gotten away with being flat out bad at their jobs for too long. Another would be to continue the Full Time Refs program that the NFL suspended before the 2019 season. With the NFL printing money, there is no excuse not to have a full, comprehensive referee training program and continued training for refs who have graduated from this program. And last would be to clarify and/or simply stop over regulating all of the rules. They should take a more Potter Stewart stance on their rules, instead of enforcing them to the letter of the law. "I know it when I see it."

@AZ_: They can invest in it. Develop a full-time program for referees so that they're paid a year-round wage to get better at their craft. Invest in training at the league level so these guys can assess and determine what players are doing to skirt the rules, and act in real time to approach each situation subjectively to determine the best course of action.

Similarly, they can utilize technology in a much simpler, efficient way. Their partnership with Microsoft can give refs the ability to wear an Surface-like device strapped to their arm, confer in real time and allow for penalties to be subject to review. They can open up themselves to any view in the stadium through the television feed. Its not like we don't have the technology to do any of this, its streamlining the process efficiency and making the investment which stands in the way.

@Randolphkeys:
Everyone who follows the NFL agrees the referees are a barrier to a fair and even contest, and their mistakes/subjective decisions have far too much influence on the outcome of a game. However, I really believe that every fan base believes their team is the only one suffering from this lack of competency. I do not believe the Browns are targeted for terrible calls, I believe the refs make terrible calls constantly that harm everybody. Most of the best football refs took jobs in New York reviewing contested calls, or were hired by the networks to explain calls other less experienced refs are on the field trying to make. It's a shit show and a poop fire, but it isn't a biased shit show and poop fire against Cleveland. The Browns earn a bias by the end of games by appearing completely disorganized for long stretches of games, and refs take notice of that disorganization.
 

King Stannis

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This week we had @Amherstcavsfan @AZ_ and @Randolphkeys answering a few questions.

1. What is your biggest concern you see heading into second half of the season?

@Amherstcavsfan: To put it bluntly, Baker Mayfield. If Freddie doesn't quite work out, these things happen. If the defense slowly crumbles from over use and defenses not being real in the NFL, these things happen. And if all those things turn around and they are all strengths at the end of the year, it still will not matter. Baker Mayfield is the future of the Cleveland Browns and what the fans and organization has seen in these first six games is simply not good enough.

Baker was drafted to be the franchise, the money maker, the guy that when everything goes wrong, he's the guy you can count on. And so far this season, Baker has been anything but the guy you can count on in the big moments. He has been turnover happy, although mostly undone by bad luck, and has come up short in big moments. What we need to see is that fire breathing dragon that we saw against Cincinnati, that guy in the second half against Houston who wouldn't go away quiet, or the guy in Denver that, when having an off game, did just enough to secure the win for the Browns.

@AZ_: Baker Mayfield. This should come as a surprise to nobody. But he's been terrible thus far and the offense will not be better until he is more efficient with his chances. His accuracy is a huge question mark, but it all stems from the rhythm and timing with his wide receivers and whether or not he can stay mechanically sound enough to overcome his bad habits and make plays down the field.

@Randolphkeys: Everyone wants one easy scapegoat, but the problem is more nebulous: basic mental mistakes manifesting itself on the field. The Browns are the most penalized team in the NFL, tied with Atlanta with 57 penalties. They lead in yardage in penalties as the only team above 500 yards. I can't even specify this as a defensive or offensive, or even positional coaching problem. Lining up in the wrong place, failing to maintain proper gap integrity on defense, running sloppy routes on offense... the team has struggled to maintain a sense of attention to detail. This is a new system on offense and especially defense with a lot of roster turnover. The lack of continuity has caused the team to defeat themselves for entire stretches of otherwise winnable games.

2. With Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams set to return in week 8. Will we see anything different on how the Browns will play defense?

@Amherstcavsfan: What the Browns have right now is steady, dependable, and reliability with Mitchell and Carrie. What they lack in big pass breakups or interceptions, they have been making up for in not allowing big plays and being reliable enough to not short circuit the defense. I would expect getting both Greedy and Denzel back will allow Wilks to be more creative with blitzing and his coverages. Going man to man is now a situation where you would expect the Browns to dominate rather than get ate alive like they were against Seattle.

@AZ_: Lord I hope so, but I think Mitchell and Carrie have done an admirable job of filling in while the two rest their soft tissues.
Having the longer, more athletic Ward and Williams allows the Browns to be more creative in their blitz package and play a bit more aggressive. But after a month off, I'm curious how ready either of these two corners will be to compete with guys settling into their mid-season groove. They'll both need to step in and shake off the rust quickly before we jump to conclusions that they will automatically be better.

@Randolphkeys: I actually see the cornerback group as a great strength of the team, not a problem. This is like discussing the downside of Jaimie Gillian's magnificent mane of ginger locks. The two veterans in their prime have been average level starters, replacing a young group that should have been in the discussion for Pro Bowls. I see the pass defense struggling most after the run defense has been gouged. When the front seven is too focused on getting after the QB, they lose their gap integrity and the defensive backs make the tackles. By mid-game, the play action puts cornerbacks in bad positions of trying to stop everything. I hope Greedy and Denzel balance the coverage duties and run support more successfully.

3. The Kevin Zeitler for Oliver Vernon trade seems to be a topic of discussion for Browns fans as we've seen the struggles on the offensive line this year. At this point in the season, do you still stand by the trade?

@Amherstcavsfan: Absolutely. For all of Zeitler's ability and his play at a position of need, he is still not as valuable as taking a shot on a great edge defender like Olivier Vernon. And while his pass rushing ability hasn't seen an uptick, his run defending has still been good and he has been in the back field quite a bit. The second half, as he continues to adjust playing the strong side, should see more productivity in his pass rushing numbers.

@AZ_: The deal seems like mostly a wash, but John Dorsey was unable to bridge the gap at RG in replacing Zeitler. Vernon hasn't been that productive, but he has maintained a pretty good pressure (21). He's missed a few too many tackles, but overall he remains a tough matchup on the end opposite Myles Garrett.

@Randolphkeys: I certainly stand by the deal. Some fans wanted a seamless transition from losing Peppers and Zietler, but reality is Corbett fell flat and the strong safeties aren't difference makers. None of that changes the established professionalism and talent of Vernon and OBJ. They are adjusting to new roles with the Browns. Vernon is switching back to the right side after several seasons on the left. OBJ missed most of the summer when he should have been getting used to Baker's timing. I can't say these moves failed until the season ends, and even then they stand to be better in 2020. There is no question both players have been among the best in the NFL at what they do for the past few seasons. I think fans are caught up in what was lost while forgetting what was gained. A losing record will do that.

4. The officiating has been highly scrutinized this year. Some of the calls we've seen have been awful. The Browns had a few against Seattle go against us, we saw the end of the Lions/Packers game, and a no call on a fumble in the Cardinals/Falcons game. What can the NFL do to fix the officiating, if anything?

@Amherstcavsfan: Unfortunately, the NFL has a problem where rules enforcement is so subjective that everyone has a different view on how it should be enforced. With newer, more specific rules to both protect players and allow the ability for review to get problems righted, the NFL has course corrected too much. The Pass Interference Review has been nothing short of a disaster and most have openly wondered if officials aren't overturning calls because they simply don't like the rule or the 2nd guessing of the call. The blindside block has been an abomination, with teams getting unfairly called while other, far more obvious blindside blocks are slipping through the cracks.

What needs to happen to help correct this problem? A great purge of the current NFL game day refs would be a great start. Far too many have gotten away with being flat out bad at their jobs for too long. Another would be to continue the Full Time Refs program that the NFL suspended before the 2019 season. With the NFL printing money, there is no excuse not to have a full, comprehensive referee training program and continued training for refs who have graduated from this program. And last would be to clarify and/or simply stop over regulating all of the rules. They should take a more Potter Stewart stance on their rules, instead of enforcing them to the letter of the law. "I know it when I see it."

@AZ_: They can invest in it. Develop a full-time program for referees so that they're paid a year-round wage to get better at their craft. Invest in training at the league level so these guys can assess and determine what players are doing to skirt the rules, and act in real time to approach each situation subjectively to determine the best course of action.

Similarly, they can utilize technology in a much simpler, efficient way. Their partnership with Microsoft can give refs the ability to wear an Surface-like device strapped to their arm, confer in real time and allow for penalties to be subject to review. They can open up themselves to any view in the stadium through the television feed. Its not like we don't have the technology to do any of this, its streamlining the process efficiency and making the investment which stands in the way.

@Randolphkeys:
Everyone who follows the NFL agrees the referees are a barrier to a fair and even contest, and their mistakes/subjective decisions have far too much influence on the outcome of a game. However, I really believe that every fan base believes their team is the only one suffering from this lack of competency. I do not believe the Browns are targeted for terrible calls, I believe the refs make terrible calls constantly that harm everybody. Most of the best football refs took jobs in New York reviewing contested calls, or were hired by the networks to explain calls other less experienced refs are on the field trying to make. It's a shit show and a poop fire, but it isn't a biased shit show and poop fire against Cleveland. The Browns earn a bias by the end of games by appearing completely disorganized for long stretches of games, and refs take notice of that disorganization.
Well done!

Great insights!

Grossi would do well to steal this.
 

Deezus

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Really solid stuff, gents. Shit show! Poop fire! Cleveland Sports!
 

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