1. Since trading Trent Richardson, the Browns have won three straight games. Just how surprising has this winning streak been, and did you think the Browns were really "giving up on the season" when they dealt Richardson?
When the news first came out, I never thought the Browns were giving up on the season. In fact, I stated that I felt Willis McGahee could perform better (or at the very least, just as well) in the offense in 2013. How has each player done since the move?
Trent Richardson: 51 carries, 151 yards, 3.0 average, 2 touchdowns.
Willis McGahee: 49 carries, 127 yards, 2.6 average, 1 touchdown.
Both teams are 3-0 since the trade, so the move certainly didn't hurt the Browns. They got the extra bonus of recouping a first-round draft pick for a guy who potentially could end up being an average running back at best, and I think Colts fans are starting to see that after three games of production.
As far as ripping off three wins in a row, I certainly did not expect that, although I was thinking the team could have taken two of the three games due to how feisty the defense has been. The return of Josh Gordon to the offense has been the big difference from the first two games to the past three games.
2. Brian Hoyer was obviously a big part of that turnaround, but he's now out for the season after tearing his ACL. How do you think Brandon Weeden will perform now that he's once again the starting quarterback?
A lot of Cleveland fans fell in love with Brian Hoyer, and rightly so -- he had a quick release, looked very comfortable in the offense and led a fourth quarter touchdown drive in his first two starts with the Browns. I am in the crowd that is not ready to write off Brandon Weeden just yet.
I attributed Weeden's struggles at the beginning of the season to not having Josh Gordon available in the offense. In no way am I saying that Gordon is on the same level as Calvin Johnson, but in a way, I feel Gordon has as much of an impact on our offense: without him, we're screwed. The Browns also got their starting right guard back last week, which should help alleviate some of the protection issues Weeden experienced in the first two games.
3. Just based on yards allowed, the Browns are seventh in the NFL against the pass and eighth against the run. What has made the Browns' defense so good this season?
It starts with Ray Horton being a good motivator -- he has every one of our defenders playing at high levels, from the linemen to the linebackers and defensive backs. Besides that factor, though, the offseason additions to the front seven have all worked out perfectly.
We're used to times when big additions were made, but with mediocre results: the year we acquired both Shaun Rogers and Corey Williams comes to mind. This year, Paul Kruger, Desmond Bryant and Barkevious Mingo are all making significant impacts. Bryant and nose tackle Phil Taylor are each having a Pro Bowl season in my opinion, as is cornerback Joe Haden, who is even more so living up to his "Haden Island" reputation in 2013.
4. The Lions don't appear to have any interest in trading for Josh Gordon, but that hasn't stopped fans from talking about the possibility of a deal happening, especially after there were reports of the 49ers having trade talks about him. Do you think the Browns will move Gordon before the trade deadline, and should they deal him?
Here is what I think happened: the Browns took a deal that was too good to be true (a first-rounder for a possible bust of a running back), and then NFL teams around the country started calling the Browns with the assumption that we were having a fire sale. Some team even called about left tackle Joe Thomas, reportedly. It wouldn't be wise for the Browns to just ignore every call that comes in; this was an opportunity for them to gauge the market on some of their players, in the event another too-good-to-be-true trade came up.
I don't think Josh Gordon will be moved before the deadline, especially since our head coach has stated twice now that there are no intentions of trading him. The coaches can't turn a blind eye to the fact that we are 3-0 with the offense clicking since his return. Even if they are wary about his character, he's too talented to ship away, even for a first-round pick.
5. The AFC North seems pretty wide open with three teams tied for first at 3-2. Given what's happened so far this season, do you think the Browns have the talent to make a run at the division crown?
The Browns won't run away with the division, but I think we'll be in a competitive race all the way to the end of the season because of the defense. The defense has played very well in all five games to this point, and there is enough depth in the front seven to overcome potential injuries. There are concerns with how much Brandon Weeden can produce at quarterback, but he may not need to do much: if he gets those one or two plays per game where he is well-protected, he can use his arm to find one of our streaking receivers deep, just like he did against the Bills last Thursday.