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Cleveland Browns Mailbag

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Nicolino Boinz: asks on Facebook: We all saw that Brian Hoyer can maintain the no huddle offense, but is he capable of maintaining a slower pace?*

Kevin Jones:That, Nicolino, is the million dollar question everyone wants to know, including Hoyer himself. Sunday's game in Pittsburgh was the quarterback's fifth ever start in his NFL career. As savvy as the 28-year-old is as a leader, Hoyer is still truly forming his identity as a professional quarterback. Week one should help a ton, though. Many analysts, including Sports Illustrated's Peter King, were also impressed with Hoyer. I think the Browns' success throwing the football against the Steelers will make the Saints respect Hoyer and the Cleveland receivers more – meaning New Orleans won't stack the box with an extra safety.

The no-huddle may have caught the Steelers off guard, but it won't catch the Saints by surprise. New Orleans will be reviewing tape and the Browns have been open in saying their conventional offense will work. If rookies Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell play like they did in Pittsburgh, it's hard to argue against that sentiment. If the Browns are able to get out to a lead against the Saints and future opponents, the Ben Tate-West-Crowell combination will be able to control the clock and wear down opposing defenses. And that, Nicolino, is exactly the smashmouth-type of football Mike Pettine and Ray Farmer are trying to build the Cleveland Browns into.

Kelly Bunt asks on Facebook: What happened at half time that made the team show up in the third and fourth quarter and can we do that pregame from now on?

Much to many people's surprise, there was no rah-rah speech from Mike Pettine or chairs thrown out of frustration. Even more shocking, linebacker Paul Kruger told me there really wasn't much adjusted in the defensive game plan in the second half.

Without saying much, the Browns sort of looked each other in the eye and mentally flipped the switch. The team ended up playing two quarters of lights out football, so good, that the momentum inside the building in Berea is tangible.

It's weird to say, but falling down, 27-3 in Pittsburgh might've actually been a positive thing for the Browns in the long run. It forced the team to look at themselves in the mirror and act quickly to prove to rest of the NFL, and themselves, that this franchise isn't the same old Cleveland Browns.

Wouldn't you rather have that "mirror moment" happen in Week One, as opposed to when it's too late? I think the Browns have the veteran leadership now -- Donte Whitner, Karlos Dansby, Joe Thomas and Hoyer -- to rally around the second half effort and carry the momentum with two straight home games.

Dave Beard asks on Facebook: Are the Browns planning on using Isaiah Crowell more often?**

Kevin Jones: It would be an educated guess to say the Browns will continue to use Crowell in short-yardage situations. But plans often change on the fly in the NFL. Hence, head coach Mike Pettine admitting to reporters the team had planned on letting Crowell watch and learn for most of the 2014 season.

"Crowell was a guy we were thinking, 'Hey, I don't know how much we're going to use him this year,' – not a lot of reps in the preseason and just his lack of experience," said Pettine about his running back. "He's a guy who stepped up and obviously played well. I don't think anybody would have guessed that he would have had two touchdowns in the opener. That's part of the NFL. Somebody gets hurt and it's the next man up."

The undrafted rookie has a powerful flair when the football is in hands, which reminds me of a younger Steven Jackson. Crowell rarely gets knocked backwards and even does some of the tackling himself with his bruising style. I don't think he'll garner enough carries to make him a fantasy football starter (yet), but in terms of his importance to the Cleveland Browns, Crowell proved he's talented enough to come in the game whenever the offense needs him.

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