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Browns Daily Wrap: Defending Tom Brady

Posted Dec 5, 2013


On Thursday’s edition of “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford,” co-hosts Vic Carucci and Nathan Zegura discussed what an asset Josh Gordon is to the Cleveland Browns and the priority he must be for this team in the offseason. Jim Donovan and Doug Dieken, from the PNC Bank Cleveland Browns Radio Network, joined the Roundtable discussion and expressed encouragement about seeing Jason Campbell practice Thursday. They also weighed in on what the Browns need to do to stop Tom Brady and the Patriots.

Former NFL nose tackle and current Patriots analyst Fred Smerlas joined Vic and Nathan via phone to provide insight on the Pats and what makes their quarterback, Tom Brady, as great a player as he is. Former Cleveland Browns running back Kevin Mack also joined the broadcast to give a perspective as to where the psyche of the team is and how the players should approach the remainder of the season.

Vic and Nathan wrapped up the show with Je’Rod Cherry, who spoke very highly of Brady, his former Patriots teammate.

Here are some highlights:

Nathan Zegura: “Campbell is back and practicing, but there is one more hurdle to jump over before he gets cleared to play on Sunday.  That doesn’t change the way I think the outcome of the game will be, but I do think it will make it at least a more watchable game. …Receivers have success against the Patriots and I have a feeling that there will be a lot of opportunities on Sunday to throw the ball, but I would like to see the Browns establish a run game and stick with it. I don’t think there is anyone in the league who can take Josh on one-on-on, but they will triple-team him if need be. I know this is a controversial statement, but I think that Josh is the biggest difference maker for the Browns since Jim Brown. This is a guy who is 22 years old and is 41 yards away from having a 2,000-receiving-yard season.  Josh will do his best to get open on Sunday; I’m confident in that. But at the end of the day, the defense has got to be able to get to Tom Brady and get to him quickly.”


Vic Carucci: “No offense to (Alex) Tanney or (Caleb) Hanie, but neither of them is what you want to put on the field this weekend if Campbell is back in the picture. Hearing that Campbell is back and practicing is an encouraging sign for this team. …Right now, Josh is the most special thing that this franchise has and the best move that the Browns made was not trading him. He, alone, is a huge building block for this franchise and they have to see him as an investment. I just worry about the offseason. When a guy is this young and vulnerable, the Browns need to make it their number one priority to protect him during the offseason.”


Jim Donovan: “I think it is encouraging to have Jason practicing again, and I had to go out to practice to visually see that. I think it is tough right now to get a grip on where the team is at given all the chaos going on with the quarterback situation. I just hold out hope that there is one day that they just put it all together. I think they can do it, I think they have what it takes. I just want to see one of these last four games where everything clicks and they put it all together. They deserve to do that.  The puzzle for Sunday though is getting to Tom Brady. What happened to our pass rush? This game means a lot to the Patriots, because they are going for home-field advantage in the playoffs. The Browns just need to find a way to get to Tom and keep pressure on him all game.”



Doug Dieken: “The Browns are better than their record shows and for some reason, it just hasn’t clicked. They have successfully found ways to beat themselves rather than having their opponents beat them. It’s going to be important on Sunday to get to Tom Brady. Teams have gone to a shorter passing game knowing they need to get the ball out, and Brady has mastered that. You can’t confuse Tom; he’s like a coach out there. It will certainly be a challenge for our defense.”



Fred Smerlas: “The Patriots are wicked good. They started the season with a bunch of rookies who weren’t running the right routes. It looked like Tom was inconsistent, but he was just throwing the ball to where they were supposed to be. With all the veterans back, they are using about 85 percent of their playbook, which allows them to adapt to most defenses. It’s that ability to adapt and change that most teams don’t have. They can adjust on the fly very well and it’s lethal for them. The Browns need to get pressure on Brady. You can’t blitz him because he will read that right away, but at the same time you can’t make mistakes because the Patriots will take advantage of that and eat you alive. The Browns are going to have a tough time; Tom Brady could be the smartest and quickest quarterback (at releasing the ball) I have ever seen.”


Je'Rod Cherry: “Tom is driven and you can see that. His brain works so fast and he lives with a chip on his shoulder that I don’t think he will ever shake. He still feels that to this day. He has to prove himself and week after week he goes out and plays that way. Bill (Belichick) brings consistency and accountability, which the guys respect. You know what he expects from you and he will reward you for doing so. …Going into Sunday’s game, this Browns team needs Campbell more than ever.”



Kevin Mack: “These guys have been through a tough situation. They have no feel with these possible two quarterbacks (Tanney and Hanie) and to not have a good feel about a person going in to a game, it’s kind of tough and you don’t know how he will react once he gets on the field.  This is something that they have to work through, though. They are a young team and will have plenty of opportunities to blossom and grow as players. They have a lot of good talent on this team; guys like Gordon and (Joe) Haden are what they need. Going into these last four games is going to be all about their attitude, though. It’s going to be how they handle themselves and how they go in to the game and handle each situation. They need to put everything aside that is working against them and focus on playing. As long as they come together as a team and play hard and see they can go out and accomplish more than they think, that’s a big stepping stone for them.”