This week we trade questions with the site DawgsByNature.com. I talk with Chris Pokorny, you can find him on twitter here: @DawgsByNature
The Browns surprised the league last week with a big come from behind win
against the Vikings. Many thought the Browns had thrown in the towel with
their 3rd string QB starting and trading away Richardson. From a fans
perspective, what is the current outlook for this team moving forward?
Some fans thought the Browns were poised to purposely tank the season
following the Trent Richardson trade, while others felt that this team
could still compete on any given Sunday. I fell in the latter group, and
the reason for that is the play of the front seven in Ray Horton's
They have stopped the run very well (2nd in the NFL in yards per carry
allowed), and are pressuring the quarterback at an exceptionally high rate
(3rd in the NFL in sacks per pass attempt). When you have that type of
effort week in and week out, I don't care how bad your offense is: it is
inevitable that you are going to win some games.
Two things contributed to the Browns' struggles to begin the season: the
absence of wide receiver Josh Gordon, and the fact that our starting and
backup right guards each suffered ankle injuries, forcing us to start
Oniel Cousins, who is the worst right guard by far I've seen on this team
since 1999. Fortunately, Gordon came back in Week 3 against the Vikings,
and our starting right guard, Shawn Lauvao, is scheduled to return this
week. Things are looking up, and I think it is reasonable to say that this
team could still pull off a 6- or 7-win season.
Are you sad to see Trent go?
No. Some Bengals fans might find that hard to believe because of the
awesome Week 2 performance that Richardson had against Cincinnati in 2012,
but believe me, that was pretty much his only noteworthy game of the year.
My feeling is that in his first season and the first two games of 2013,
Richardson looked like a very ordinary / average back.
Forget how many touchdowns the guy had; we can get anyone to punch it in
down at the goal line. Richardson couldn't get above 3.5 YPC, couldn't put
a nice move on defenders to gain extra yardage, and rarely had runs that
went beyond 10 yards. He was shaping up to be a BenJarvus Green-Ellis who
could catch the football.
I think Richardson's career still has some potential, but I was getting
nervous that we had a "bust" on our hands, considering what you'd hope for
from a No. 3 overall pick. The Colts gave us a mulligan (or as close to
one as we could get) on Richardson with a first-round pick in 2014. I am
thrilled that we jumped at that opportunity.
What scares you most about the game against the Bengals?
It's a weird feeling for me this week - I'm confident in our defense in
general, and I am excited that our offense will have our starting right
guard back. At the same time, I sort of feel resigned to the expectation
that the Bengals are going to emerge victorious this week.
The Bengals have protected Andy Dalton well, and A.J. Green has been
opportunistic at coming up with a big play at the right time against us,
even on Joe Haden. Also, I'm still a bit wary about our secondary's
coverage skills after Haden and feel like Dalton can exploit some of the
third-down pass completions we've been giving up through the first three
weeks of the season.
How much do you hate the Steelers and the Ravens?
I would consider myself more of a younger fan, but the thing I hate is the
superiority that Steelers and Ravens fans dangle over the Browns. It will
be sweet justice when things start to flip, and it looks like that might
be happening to Pittsburgh this year. For the hatred to really reach a
peak level, though, these games need to start meaning something late in
the season for the Browns. How can you strengthen a rivalry when you're
always eliminated from the playoffs half-way through the season?
What matchup do you think favors the Browns?
Earlier, I touched on the Browns' dominant run defense through three
games. BenJarvus Green-Ellis is averaging just 2.8 yards per carry this
season. If the Browns can stop the run and force Andy Dalton into some
predictable passing situations, maybe Ray Horton will dial up some
creative blitzes that prevent a guy like A.J. Green from having time to