Who is the Cleveland Browns? Philosophers disagree. Could the Browns be a thing, or is something Brown, perhaps afflicted with this attribute?
Pressing questions indeed, for when the football team of an Ohio metropolitan area happens to be the Cleveland Browns, this moral quandary takes a serious turn. It’s pressing still when this team faces the Detroit Lions on the last Thursday of August for something called the “Great Lakes Freighter Trophy,” clearly a rush week prank concocted by students at Miami University.
This corporeal entity shares a similar stigma with the Lions, both teams having found no wins in a 16-game NFL schedule. This does not make them brothers, primarily because the ontological nature of the Browns is not yet clear.
Thankfully, we have Chris Pokorny from the SB Nation blog Dawgs by Nature to help us understand these metaphysical implications. We didn’t ask about the trophy. It’s better that way.
1. Can the Browns be improved by winning?
CP: If you asked former Browns GM Sashi Brown, they could only be improved by losing. 1-31 over the past two seasons has been painful as a fan and as a blogger. Can you imagine how in the past 32 regular season games, I have only been able to blog about one victory? Or go to work Monday morning with an extra pep in my step because Cleveland won over the weekend? Worst of all, I started getting apathetic to the losses, whereas even in all of the other losing seasons since 1999, I used to be just so devastated after any loss for a 24-hour period. All of Cleveland’s losing did set things up very well for new GM John Dorsey this offseason, though. So before, when they didn’t have enough talent to win, they could only be improved by losing. Now, they can only improve if they find stability on the coaching staff, and that’ll only happen if Hue Jackson starts winning.
2. What is the least frustrating dimension about this current Browns roster?
CP: As crazy as it may sound, I will say the quarterback position. We’ve had so many years of frustration, quarterback controversy, poor handling of the position, etc. This year, it has been clear from Day 1, and the entire locker room has been happily accepting of it: Tyrod Taylor is the starter this year, but Baker Mayfield is the future who everyone loves and is excited about. That is a new feeling for Browns fans, so the position has become the opposite of frustrating for once.
3. In a three-way cage fight death match between Punished “Venom” Tyrod Taylor, Michigan State semi-god Drew Stanton and some idiot from Oklahoma named Baker Mayfield, who wins if I arm each of them with a two-by-four? Also, I guess... Who is probably the Browns quarterback by week 8?
CP: Haha, man, you weren’t kidding when you said these questions would be weird. WWE-style, when all three quarterbacks are squaring off, the commissioner will come out to announce a fourth entrant -- Brogan Roback. With a name like that, he is built for the business and easily becomes the favorite to win. As far as who the Browns’ quarterback is by Week 8, if everyone stays healthy, the feeling right now is that I’m 99% confident that Taylor would still be the starter.
4. What fills the metaphorical hole of Joe Thomas? Also, the literal hole.
CP: Metaphorically, nothing can fill the hole left by Joe Thomas. He was and still is a God. The literal hole will be filled by Joel Bitonio, the team’s starting left guard the past four years. Moving Bitonio to left tackle has been something fans have speculated on for years, because he is the team’s next-best lineman. This offseason, Bitonio stayed at left guard while Cleveland pilot-tested a few players at left guard. They quickly saw it was a disaster near the beginning of camp, so they moved Bitonio to left tackle and inserted rookie Austin Corbett in at left guard. Bitonio has more than held his own at left tackle during the preseason.
5. Give hope.
CP: Jarvis Landry and Josh Gordon could be the best one-two receiving punch in the NFL. Myles Garrett has been a monster this preseason. The Browns have lacked star-power for many years, and now they have it. You can feel the national attention growing due to Hard Knocks, and this may finally be the year Cleveland becomes a contender.
Thanks to Chris Pokorny for putting up with our nonsense. Welcome back to 5 Questions, everybody.