Saturday, Chris Pokorny and I traded emails with each other about Sunday's game. Chris runs Dawgs By Nature -- the SB Nation Browns blog.
1. Braylon Edwards called out his own team-mate Brian Russell for his week two hit on Chad Johnson. It seemed like Edwards was defending wide receivers and partially, I have to agree with him. There are way too many needless hits on wide receivers in this league today that cause serious injury. Now, obviously, Edwards was wrong to bring that up to the press. Is Edwards viewed in Cleveland as a team leader?
Chris: "Well, coincidently, I discussed this issue a little on my site last night here. Edwards is still viewed as a passionate man on offense, because he along with Kellen Winslow seem to give their best effort each and every week. However, Edwards is starting to talk to the media a little too much, and he's learning that whatever he says will be turned into a controversy right away. Edwards should have talked to Brian Russell about the issue himself, because as soon as he went to the media, the assumption is that there is "no love" in the locker room. And, when Russell was asked about the situation, he had to defend a play that happened way back in Week 2, which should be the least of things on our team's mind at this point. Right now, Winslow is the leader of our offense, and Edwards still needs to correct some of his on-the-field issues (catching balls in clutch situations) and become more of a supporter when he talks to the media before he can be deemed with the same title."
2. What's improved with the Browns since week two?
Chris: "Out of everything, our issues in the secondary have improved. Gary Baxter was still playing when we faced the Bengals, but with Daylon McCutcheon out for the season, we were still trying to find a good nickel back. At the time, that man was Ralph Brown, who ended up getting burned on several occasions by the Bengals. Over the weeks though, our secondary coach Mel Tucker has done a tremendous job with people who were almost "nobodies" such as Daven Holly and Jereme Perry. During that span, Baxter has been done for the year, and Leigh "Bowden" has basically been out with an injury as well. Now, people in Cleveland are going as far as to say that if McCutcheon and Baxter are released next season, Holly would be a viable starter. I'm not so sure we'll be able to cover the Bengals receivers this Sunday though, because Cincinnati obviously has one of the greatest passing attacks in football."
On your improved secondary, are you concerned about T.J. who missed playing the first time around?
Chris: Regarding Houshmandzadeh it's tough to say. Last year, it has been my belief that the Bengals second or third receivers have torched us more so than Chad Johnson has. This year, our secondary has been sharp despite all of the injuries since the last time we beat the Bengals, and the only time we've been truly "beaten" by an opposing team's passing offense was in the fourth quarter of the Steelers' comeback last week. If the Bengals were able to score 34 points last time without T.J, I'm sure their won't be too much of a dropoff this time, and Palmer may even throw one less interception with another big playmaker on the field.
3. A lot of us in Cincinnati saw Romeo Crennel making changes like Marvin Lewis did with the Bengals in 2003. Is Cleveland satisfied with Crennel's progress or is there a level of impatience that's starting to grow?
Chris: "When a team in Cleveland doesn't win over a long period of time, the head coach is going to get a lot of heat, and that's what is starting to happen with Crennel. Personally, I think our problem is that we are playing a football game with the mentality that we have more talented skill players than we actually do. Our systems and our schemes on offense appear to be a nice gameplan against a defense, but nothing matters after our offensive line can't even hold the defense for two seconds. On defense, it's been a different story, because our schemes have paid off in a "bend-but-don't-break" style. That is the reason we've had the lead at halftime in each of our past four games, but have only came out victorious in two of them: the offense falters, and the defense can only hold the lead for so long."
Chris: "One more comment before I go, I'm taking the Bengals to win this game in a shootout: Bengals 34, Browns 28."