We're heading into another lovely summer weekend with three of your questions in the latest edition of the Browns Mailbag.
Last mailbag you spoke about having two 1,000 yard running backs. Would it be possible to have two running backs this year plus two receivers go over 1,000 yards? Has it happened before? — Mike C., Massillon
I love questions like this. Please send more of them.
First off, anything is possible, though I will say accomplishing this feat would be very, very difficult. As I said in last week's mailbag, it'd be fantastic if both Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt were able to repeat what Kevin Mack and Earnest Byner did in the 80s. But you'd rather have a combined 2,500 yards from the two with one not able to hit 1,000 than the two hitting 1,000 but only gaining a combined 2,100 yards.
The Browns had three players hit 1,000 yards in 2019 — Chubb, Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. That marked the second such occasion in franchise history. Just how feasible would it be for Hunt, Austin Hooper or someone else to join the party?
Well, it's happened twice in NFL history. Twice. And it's never involved two players clearing 1,000 yards on the ground.
It first occurred in 1995, when the Falcons had three players with 1,000+ receiving yards — Eric Metcalf, Bert Emanuel and Terance Mathis — and Craig Heyward with 1,000+ yards. Then, in 2004, the Colts had Reggie Wayne, Marvin Harrison and Brandon Stokley clear 1,000 yards through the air while Edgerrin James compiled 1,548 on the ground.
So, yes, it'd be historic. That's a high, high bar. We're not completely ruling it out, but there's a path toward a great offense without this kind of statistical feat occurring.
Do the Browns have the horses to finally stop the run? I admit, I'm intrigued with the acquisitions of Andrew Billings and Jordan Elliott. If the D stops the run, Myles Garrett will get 20 sacks, and this team makes the playoffs. — Ronnie B., Harts, West Virginia
When the Browns' D-line was fully healthy last year, Cleveland was a middle-of-the-pack run defense. The end of the season, when Garrett was out and Olivier Vernon was sidelined with a knee injury, was when the bottom fell out, sending the Browns to a ranking of 30th in the NFL. In the first 11 games, Cleveland limited opponents to fewer than 100 rushing yards on six occasions. Over the final five, the Browns allowed no fewer than 124 yards in a game and surrendered an average of 190 per game.
That's a long way of saying that when this version of the Browns defensive line is healthy, it's proven to be solid against the run. The addition of a player like Billings, who has excelled at stopping the run, should only help this group improve. Even a modest improvement would go a long way for a unit that was much better than the stats ultimately indicated.
Hey Andrew. Why did the Browns select LB Jacob Phillips from LSU in the third round over LB Malik Harrison from "The Ohio State University?" Harrison was snared with the very next pick by those dirty bird Baltimore Ravens. I believe Harrison was ranked a lot higher on quite a few pundit draft boards. What do you think made Phillips more appealing to that of Harrison for the Browns? — Craig S., Ashtabula
From what I can gather, Phillips and Harrison were similarly ranked by most analysts heading into the draft. Both were tabbed as mid-round selections and that's where they ultimately fell. I can't speak much about Harrison, who was a great player at Ohio State, but I can tell you what the Browns loved about Phillips.
For linebackers coach Jason Tarver, it was all about how productive Phillips was on college football's best team last season. His versatility within Cleveland's scheme has been a major plus during the virtual offseason program.
"He is a winner, and he has good length, top speed and power in his body, which has improved throughout the offseason, which has been great to see," Tarver said. "He is very smart, and he wants to know all of the positions.
"Jacob has the skill set for all of those (LB spots), and that is what we wanted. We wanted football intelligence. We wanted length and speed. He has those … Being only 21 and coming out early, he sort of had some things, and he has even gotten better with that in the offseason that he can do on shedding blocks and making plays, but he was highly productive. Leading that team in tackles is a big deal. His skill set really fits for any of the spots."