“Iconic sportscaster” and “Football Encyclopedia” are two phrases synonymous with Trey Wingo. The former longtime ESPN personality now works with a number of entities, including “The 33rd Team” and Caesar’s Sportsbook, as well as hosting a number of shows like “Upon Further Review” with Mark Schlereth.
Wingo joined us once again on The Orange and Black Insider and what a doozy of a half-hour we spent with him. Some of the conversation touched on the issues with Hall of Fame quarterbacks Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson this year, but most of centered around the 2022 Cincinnati Bengals and their upcoming matchup on Halloween against the Cleveland Browns.
Though the Browns are just 2-5 and losers of four straight, Cincinnati has coincidentally lost that many consecutive games up to now in “The Battle of Ohio”. And, while we know that isn’t sitting well with the Brown family in The Queen City, Wingo had some thoughts on the matchup.
“I think he’s a decent coach (regarding Kevin Stefanski), but tell me why it makes more sense for Jacoby Brissett to drop back 40 times and only hand the ball to Nick Chubb 12,” Wingo said in response to John Sheeran’s question and defense of the Browns’ head coach. “For Stefanski, the problems I have with him—and I do believe he’s a good coach, believe me—but know what you have.”
“What’s more likely to be the winning formula for you as the head coach of the Cleveland Browns and the play-caller—putting it in the hands of Jacoby Brissett, or putting it in arguably the best running back in the NFL this year in Nick Chubb?”, Wingo asked rhetorically after relaying a similar story about the Chiefs/Titans playoff game back in 2017.
In that stat line, Wingo was referring to the Week 6 beatdown the inconsistent Patriots gave Cleveland in “The Dawg Pound”. Last week against the Ravens was a bit more balanced (25 pass attempts for Brissett and 16 rushes for Chubb), but there’s no doubt that the Browns want Chubb to get to that 25-plus carry mark—particularly with a backup quarterback under center.
The defense once again comes into focus this week—both because of the Ja’Marr Chase injury and the success Chubb has had against the Bengals. The Browns’ star running back has these numbers against the Bengals in his career:
To that end, Sheeran also asked Wingo about Cincinnati’s defense having that amazing 7-game stretch in 2022 wherein they have not allowed a second-half touchdown. Both conceded that, while it is impressive, it also isn’t likely to be sustainable long-term. With that, Wingo said they need to just keep that mindset that Lou Anarumo’s crew has had since last postseason.
“It’s not sustainable—it’s not. They’re going to give up second half touchdowns down the road at some point,” Wingo said. “But, you love that ‘closer mindset’ and a lot of that goes with the defensive coordinator.”
We had Lou (Anarumo) on ‘The 33rd Team’ and I asked him ‘how many calls and texts did you get from guys—like, how did you figure out (Patrick) Mahomes?’...In both games last year, they held them to a field goal in the second half. But, that’s that defense you’re talking about...they rose to the occasion and came up with big plays after big plays. The key is there is to just hang in the game as long as you can. Stay in the game—fin a way to stay in the game. And, after giving up some points in the first halves, the Bengals have found a way to sort of reverse that.”
In terms of this Monday night, did you know that it has been since the Sam Wyche/Boomer Esiason era when the Bengals last won a road Monday Night Football game (1990)? Did you know it was last against Bernie Kosar, these Browns and that Cincinnati has eight straight road Monday night losses since that victory? Wingo reminded us of these facets when talking about some of the keys to the contest.
“Just be who you are, like understand you’re the better team,” Wingo said bluntly about the Bengals’ approach this week. “It’s not a matter of opinion, it’s not a debate—they’re better. So, just play to the level of who you are, and they should take care of business.”
Simple enough, yet the Bengals and primetime don’t always mix all that well. Hopefully they take that advice to heart, especially now with Chase out of the lineup for the foreseeable future.
Also in the interview:
—The depth of talent in the AFC (2:35)
—The ups and downs of the teams in the AFC North (6:07)
—The issues with NFL star quarterbacks in 2022
—The struggles of the Cleveland Browns heading into Week 8 (13:32)
—The favorites to win it all and a fun story about Joe Burrow’s childhood (23:22)
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Our thanks to Mr. Wingo and the fine folks over at Caesar’s Sportsbook for making this interview happen! Go get their app and keep your eyes and ears open for their big launch of sports betting in the state of Ohio!