I, Daniel, had some questions after this past Sunday that I was dying to chat with others about. So, I figured what better way to see how others feel about these things than to set up a roundtable? This will now be a bi-weekly article posted on every other Tuesday with the same group of writers. If you ever have questions you would like to be asked on here we encourage you to reach out!
If you were told before the season started that we would be 0-1-1 going into Week 3, what would you have said?
Daniel Daugherty – For me, I really think I would have been encouraged being told we would be 0-1-1 after week two. The Saints and Steelers were both highly regarded coming into this year and tying one of them and losing by three to the other is an encouraging sign. I think knowing how we got to this point and the belief we should have an even better record is why Browns faithful is in such tough spirits going into Week 3.
Max Gold– if someone told me we were going 0-1-1 into Week 3, I would have been a little surprised. I expected the Browns to start 0-2 although I did have a good feeling that we could win the Pittsburgh game. Coming out in a tie with a division rival isn’t the greatest feeling, but it’s a positive step in the right direction which I feel translated into the Saints game.
Imari McPherson – I would’ve been surprised but mostly in a good way. The tie tells me that the team was in the game until the very end, something we didn’t see much of in 2017. After a winless 2017 season and losing 17 straight coming into 2018, I’ll take 0-1-1 over 0-2 any day, especially against a heated rival in the Steelers and a reigning division champ in the Saints.
Dustin Nelson – I honestly would’ve been surprised but only because there was actually a tie. Not because I was happy with the tie, but because this isn’t very common. I had a strong feeling about the Browns getting a win in Week 1, so I am disappointed with only a tie, but then again I’ll take a tie over a loss. After watching both of these games, I am pretty upset we don’t have a better record than 0-1-1, though.
Will Collins – I would have said – a tie, honestly!? I, like most, would much rather either have a win or a loss. A tie just does not sit well with me. Overall, I think it is right on par with where they should be. As a record does not tell the whole story these have been two games the Browns have had opportunities to win. I am disappointed that we are not 1-1 or 2-0 but you have to be slightly encouraged about how close these games have been.
What are your final thoughts on the Week 2, Saints game?
DD – Just missed opportunities. Went on the road, shut down a high-powered offense without two starters on defense, made a clutch offensive play and still lost? That is a heart-wrenching. But I still believe. This team has grit and I think they believe they can win. I think that, obviously, the sooner we get over the hump the better and when we do, the wins will come on a much more regular basis.
MG– We played well enough to win on the road in a tough environment. It’s not every day that you can hold Drew Brees and the Saints to 21 points. The defense held them in check for the majority of the game and we were missing two key defenders. The offense made some clutch plays and put us in position to win. This loss is on Zane Gonzalez.
IM – I know a lot of people want to put blame on Hue Jackson and even Tyrod Taylor, but this loss is not a result of their shortcomings. Tyrod played well enough to get us a win, even with Todd Haley’s questionable play-calling. The defense held the Saints, at home, to just 21 points and played another outstanding game. Simply put, if Zane Gonzalez makes his kicks, we walk away with a win. Sorry, Zane.
DN – Similar to the rest of the guys, I am happy with how we played against the Saints, especially playing in New Orleans and with how good they are and agree the loss is on Zane Gonzalez. This game definitely made me feel better knowing that Week 1 wasn’t a fluke and that we could be dangerous this year. I just hope we can get over this hump and don’t become complacent with coming close.
WC – Classic Hue Jackson game. Have the opportunity to win, but we don’t. It just feels like this team finds new ways every week to come away with another heartbreaking loss. This defense is legit and the league should be on notice. This offense needs to find some type of a rhythm. Until the offensive line starts to be more dominant the team will struggle to make big plays needed to win games.
Two weeks and a preseason in, what are your thoughts so far on the Browns 2018 rookie class?
DD – Studs. Absolutely A+ talent acquisition. Baker Mayfield looks the part from his training camp and will have time to sit and soak it in and Denzel Ward looks to be exactly what the Browns thought they were getting. Then, Antonio Callaway and Genard Avery are absolute steals that deep in the draft. I was surprised to see Avery get such little playing time without Chris Kirksey or Emmanuel Ogbah against the Saints, but the guy seems to be a solid player. Then you have Desmond Harrison as an undrafted free agent who looks to be a raw, athletic monster. And I have high hopes for Nick Chubb and the jury is still out on Austin Corbett who might end up being the one stain on an otherwise great rookie class for the Browns, finally.
MG – I’m very impressed. Some players have already met my expectations if not exceeded them. Avery looked like a stud against Pittsburgh as well as Denzel Ward. He already proved why he was the fourth overall pick in the draft. Callaway had a huge late-game touchdown against New Orleans. They all seem to be making significant contributions. Plus, Baker Mayfield looked great in preseason, so the future looks bright.
IM – I honestly have not been this excited for a group of guys in a long time. Denzel Ward lived up to his number four pick with two INTs of Big Ben in Week 1 and overall, no one person has been single-handedly manhandled so far this season. Even though Baker Mayfield hasn’t played, I’m impressed with his willingness to sit behind Tyrod for the season while also doing what he needs to do to stay ready. I think the rookies have some good veterans in the locker room they can look up to and learn from and it should be all positive things from the team in the near future.
DN – Year in and out, we get top picks in the draft and watch them underperform and end up on another team before long. With this rookie class, I’m not so worried. Denzel Ward looks better than I would’ve expected him to be, even as a Buckeye fan. Avery was a stud against Pittsburgh and shows promise to continue that way. Callaway stepped up when he was needed without Gordon and Harrison has a high ceiling if he can fix the penalties. Nick Chubb has shown some promise and I think he will continue to grow in this committee. It’s hard to tell with Baker only playing in the preseason, but man am I excited for him when the time comes though.
WC – This is for sure a quick judgment of the group but overall we got some studs. Let us talk about the ones on the field, first. Ward and Avery have made their presence known. Ward making some big-time plays in Week 1 and Avery continuing to apply pressure with Emanuel Ogbah and Myles Garrett. Antonio Callaway sees a big boost in his stock after that touchdown late against the Saints and the departure of Josh Gordon. The ugly is Nick Chubb and Austin Corbett – both underused and have very limited action. Would like to see the Browns find ways to get them more involved as they were second-round picks. Finally, my love – BAKER MAYFIELD, boy did he look good in the preseason. While he is not playing now he does look like the real deal. Right now I will give the class a B-.
After starting 0-1-1, what is your updated prediction on how the Browns will finish the season?
DD – As I stated above, I think once the Browns win, the wins will come more regularly. I also believe that winning starts this Thursday at home against the Jets. Then a win against the Raiders (they’re struggling and we will have 10 days off) and we are off and rolling to a 2-1-1 start with a what currently appears to be a winnable division. My record prediction is 7-8-1. Then in the offseason, we will do to Tyrod Taylor what the Bills did to him and the Chiefs did to Alex Smith.
MG – I agree with Daniel. The turnaround, the winning starts on Thursday. Once they get this monkey off their back the wins should come more naturally. My record prediction is 6-9-1. Although we are improving we still have a tough schedule facing the NFC South, AFC West, and our own division.
IM – I, too, agree with Daniel. The division is not at its strongest like it has been in past years and even though Browns fans are excited about this team, we are not a playoff team just yet. The Bengals look good through two weeks and we still have the rest of the NFC South to face. I can see a 7-8-1 finish once all the new players have time to gel in real game action.
DN – I know it’s different, but I’m going to agree with Daniel. Getting that first win will be huge for the Browns. This team is hungry for their first win, but they aren’t going to be satisfied with just one. I was optimistic with this team, but after these two games, I feel even better. I think we will end the year with a record of 7-8-1, just like Daniel and Imari. I wish I had a better record prediction, but this schedule is brutal.
WC – This is not far off from the way I thought they would start the season. It is just so painful when you could easily be 2-0 if some kicks go your way. I will stay firm on the prediction I made in my season preview article prior to the season starting. I think the Browns will still finish with a 6-10 record.
What are your thoughts and expectations going into the Week 3, Jets game?
DD – My expectations are that they will put it together and get a win. The Jets aren’t great. I think we get three or four turnovers with our opportunistic defense against a rookie, turnover-prone quarterback on a short week. Jarvis Landry has a monster game along with Duke Johnson finally getting a bigger role. Browns go into the fourth week 1-1-1, victory fridge opens and Bud Light for everyone!
MG– I’m expecting a W. Short weeks for both teams. Advantage Cleveland for being at home. The Jets have a rookie quarterback so we should force multiple turnovers with how our defense has been playing. The real task is turning New York’s errors into points. The Browns offense must capitalize if they intend to win this game.
IM – It’ll be a short week after a heartbreaking loss. I see a low scoring game with both defenses playing well. Tyrod will barely outplay the Sam Darnold, whose rookie tendencies will show when facing Gregg Williams’ tough defense. Possibly a 20-14 or 17-13 Browns win to move to 1-1-1 on the season.
DN – It’s tough not to predict a win here for the Browns. They are finally favored in a game and this game is there’s for the taking. But, that’s why I have some concern. It would be the Browns to come so close to win against two Super Bowl contenders and then lose to a rookie-led Jets, but I still have plenty of confidence in them. Seeing that it’s a Thursday night game, I’m expecting a low-scoring game. I agree with Max, they have to capitalize on turnovers, which I think will be their most important goal to win. I just wish TNF still had color rush uniforms.
WC – Keep progressing and take home this win. I think this game is ripe for the picking. The Jets provide us with the most comparable roster we have seen so far this year. Playing at home on a short week is no easy task for an NFL rookie either. This defense should make Sam Darnold miserable and he should be in for a long night. I say Browns win but this is another close contest with a final score of 17-23.