There’s been plenty of talk about No. 6 around these parts. How about six of your questions heading into Week 17?
Let’s file this under “good problem to have” at a position that had, perhaps, the most question marks of any entering the season. The Browns opened camp with a starting left tackle (Shon Coleman) who is no longer with the team. Then they moved one of the best left guards in the league (Joel Bitonio) to the position. And then, just in time for the preseason finale, Desmond Harrison, an undrafted free agent, took over at one of the most important positions on the field. It wasn’t ideal, to say the least.
Harrison held his own through the first half of the season, showing plenty of the promise Cleveland’s coaches and scouts saw from him right from the jump. He looks like he was built in a lab to play left tackle in the NFL and has plenty of time to prove he can.
After a tough game for the entire offensive line Week 8 in Pittsburgh, Harrison fell ill. It was Robinson’s time to shine, and he capitalized on the big opportunity. Since Robinson has taken over at left tackle, the Browns have surrendered just five sacks over seven games. It’s not all his doing -- Freddie Kitchens has taken over as play-caller, the ball is coming out of Baker Mayfield’s hand faster and the offense, in general, is simply playing better -- but Robinson has played a key role. As many Browns offensive linemen have said in recent weeks, there’s a reason why Robinson was the No. 2 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. He has a ton of talent. Now, after a few years of adversity with the Rams and Lions, he’s playing like a starting-level NFL left tackle.
Robinson’s contract is up at the end of this season. The Browns will have to make a decision on whether or not to bring him back, but he’s certainly played his way into serious consideration of manning the position beyond this season. An offseason could do wonders for Harrison, too. Needless to say, the Browns have more obvious answers at left tackle than they did at the start of the year. Still, as general manager John Dorsey showed this past offseason, there’s no such thing as too many answers at a particular position, especially one as important as left tackle. If there’s an opportunity to upgrade, Dorsey won’t hesitate.
We know where Hue Jackson works, but what has been the fate of other head coaches of the Browns going back to Romeo Crennel? What are these men doing? Are there any former Brown QBs (last eight years) that have started games in 2018 (and how many wins)? -- Bob M., Chardon
Let’s knock the coaches out in quick, brief fashion.
Romeo Crennel - Houston Texans defensive coordinator
Eric Mangini - TV analyst
Pat Shurmur - New York Giants head coach
Rob Chudzinski - In between jobs
Mike Pettine - Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator
As for former quarterbacks, there’s obviously a bunch sprinkled across the league. Cody Kessler won a game as a starter with Jacksonville. Derek Anderson started twice and lost both for Buffalo and Josh McCown lost all three of his starts while filling in for Sam Darnold. Colt McCoy started two games for Washington before suffering a season-ending injury. Think that about covers it.
What picks do the Browns have in next year’s draft? Fun time in Cleveland and this fan of 66 years is just over the moon about next year’s season. Go Browns. -- Joseph M., Middlebury, Connecticut
As it stands today, the Browns have 10 picks in the 2019 NFL Draft. They own all of their picks in Rounds 1-6 along with New England’s third-round (Danny Shelton) and fifth-round picks (Josh Gordon) and Jacksonville’s fifth-round (Carlos Hyde) and seventh-round picks (Kessler). The Browns parted with their own seventh-rounder in a trade with the Saints for DL Devaroe Lawrence and used a seventh-round pick acquired in a trade with San Francisco (Shon Coleman) in the Gordon trade.
Play of the game. I don't know who was responsible but think about it: Two-minute warning one or two seconds away. Browns need yards and keep the clock running. Pass! If incomplete, no harm, clock going to stop anyway. If complete and first down, game over. Bengals should have been ready for it but... -- Elmer L., Bangor, Maine
You’re exactly right. It’s the kind of play call you love to see in that situation, and it’s even better when it results in a game-sealing, 66-yard catch-and-run by tight end David Njoku. I asked offensive lineman Joel Bitonio about that play call after the game, and he felt the exact same way.
“That’s a smart call,” Bitonio said. “No matter what, the clock is stopping. I didn’t think about it until I walked up to the line and thought, ‘Oh, that’s a smart call.’ Those are good calls, man.
“Those are the things you do in Madden. You can throw here and win the game. It’s big time.”
Are you kidding me? THIS is when it gets fun. This is when you can really see a team build and grow when foundational pieces are already in place. The Browns have a big opportunity this offseason to turn a roster that is performing as well as any in the league during the second half of the season into an even better one. There’s no need for a roster overhaul; just fine-tuning and depth filling. That’s something to be very excited about.
I’ve heard similar things about quarterback classes in the past only to see a handful of them go in the top five. Let’s get closer to the draft before we make any broad-sweeping conclusions about the depth and quality of the class. That said, the fewer teams that reach for quarterbacks, the more non-quarterbacks that will be taken before the Browns make their pick. If the season ended today, the Browns would hold the 17th pick. If the Browns win Sunday in Baltimore, that pick could drop to 18th. If the Browns lose, it could go as high as 15th.