To help us get ready for Tennessee Titans vs. Cleveland Browns on Sunday, I sent five questions about the Browns over to Chris Pokorny of Dawgs by Nature. There is nobody who knows more about the Brows than Chris.
Here was our exchange:
1. How has Deshaun Watson looked through two games this season? Is he worth the capital (trade/contract) Cleveland gave him?
He hasn’t looked good. I was trying to be optimistic that “surely, that rust from last season won’t be as prominent.” I should also mention that I personally have always thought that Deshaun Watson was a bit overrated, so I wasn’t thrilled when the trade was first made for him. That has nothing to do with his off-the-field issues either. From a quarterbacking standpoint, I think ball placement is one of the most important elements for a quarterback, which plays into accuracy too.
Watson’s ball placement has been bad, and is one of the reasons the Browns’ offense started the game with a pick six last week — he threw the ball on a short route to his tight end, but the pass was angled to the outside. It deflected off our tight end’s out-stretched hands for the interception. Watson also fumbled twice — once on a fourth down conversion attempt, and then later off of a playaction pass attempt that was returned for a touchdown. The Browns’ defense went into the fourth quarter with the lead last week, and only allowed -7 yards of offense in the final quarter, only to lose the game because of Watson (and the bad block by our left tackle). Watson looks like a below average quarterback, and now we have fans who are divided by him. People will complain about his play, but then other fans will say, “You’ll look foolish once he gets back to his former self.” I don’t see a guy getting back to his former self right now — as a Browns fan, I sure as hell hope he gets there, but I can only go by how he’s performed in a Browns uniform.
2. What do you expect the running back split to be between Jerome Ford and Kareem Hunt? What have you seen out of Ford in his year+ in the league?
Kareem Hunt has a few years of experience with Kevin Stefanski and the Browns’ offense, so I don’t expect there to be much of a learning curve with respect to restricting his playing time. However, when Hunt has been here the past few years, he was already in a rotational role with Nick Chubb. Hunt brings that burst of energy as a receiver and a guy who can make something out of nothing in certain yardage situations, but Jerome Ford is faster and can hit the hole quicker. I’d expect Jerome Ford to be the lead back for now — maybe getting 15 carries — while Hunt becomes the regular third down back, catching passes, and also getting 8-10 carries. Ford seems to have pretty good instincts from what I’ve seen, and if he sees a window, he’s a threat to take it to the house.
3. If you were Titans’ OC Tim Kelly, how would you attack this Browns’ defense?
Through two games, the Browns’ defense appears to be the real deal. They present a good pass rush, often play tight man coverage, have had pretty solid run defense, and have been delivering some hard hits from the secondary. In two games, only one play bit the Browns last week, and that was a 70-yard pass to WR George Pickens over the middle last week (catch-and-run). I don’t know if that is some blueprint the Titans can follow, though, because this defense has been forcing so many three-and-outs and hasn’t allowed a drive in the red zone yet. I guess that probably would be the way I’d try to attack the defense, though — see if those intermediate windows are open if the quarterback gets enough time to throw and cause some lapses in coverage.
4. Tell us about one player who Titans fans may not have heard of, but who could have an impact on this Sunday’s game.
Safety Grant Delpit. Through two games, he has been dominant, and is building off of a solid stretch in 2022. His instincts in coverage have been fantastic, whether that be defending the pass, or recognizing a shorter route and coming up with a full head of steam to make the sure tackle. He looks like an All-Pro defense, and I think defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz has unleashed his potential a bit.
5. The total for this game currently sits at 39.5 on DraftKings Sportsbook. Which side of that are you taking?
I would take the over. I wouldn’t be surprised by a 20-17 game with the way Cleveland’s defense has been playing, and the Titans’ run defense also excelling at defending the run (and then you factor in Deshaun Watson’s struggles). However, I think this is a week where defensive play on both sides can force some opportune short fields that the offenses end up taking advantage of — just enough to reach the over in points.
If you’d like to read his questions with my answers you can head over here.