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Cleveland Browns Mailbag


*Tim Piatt: What do you feel is the biggest "sign" that there is a culture change underway with the team?*

KJ: Intense doesn't even begin to describe the highs and lows of winning and losing under this regime. The feeling of ecstasy in the locker room after beating the Saints is honestly something I can't compare to anything in normal everyday life. And interviewing players after the Ravens loss was like a root canal, in the middle of the Sahara Desert, while getting your ear bitten off by Mike Tyson. You can literally feel the atmosphere in the room after a game.

Winning is a sacred word in the building around Berea and losing…well, this is what coach Mike Pettine told me about losing in our first ever interview.

"We want to get guys that hate to lose so much that it almost makes them borderline physically ill," Pettine said, half-seriously.

Any my favorite, after the Pittsburgh loss: "There's a phrase for almost winning, or a word for it. It's called 'losing.'

So through intense training camp competitions, enlightening slideshows about the history of the Browns during team meetings and numerous small messages communicated by the coaching staff in positional meetings, Pettine has drawn a firm line in the sand about what a winning culture is and what a losing culture is. And that, to me, is what truly does make this team different. 

*Phil Trendel: After 4 weeks into the season and knowing what we know now, anything you would do differently in the draft? *

KJ:I like the creativity in the question, but it's way too early to evaluate a draft. It's honestly even too early to fully evaluate Barkevious Mingo and the 2013 class. For those of you who are already drumming about Justin Gilbert, please take a chill pill. The cries for Joe Haden's up-and-down rookie beginning in 2010 were nearly just as loud. Gilbert has every physical tool in the world to shut down wide receivers and create turnovers. Once he straightens out the mental part of his game – preparation, remembering how to forget big plays, etc. – Gilbert's jerseys will be flying of the racks.

*Tara: Who's the player that's going to surprise us the most this season?*

KJ: This may seem like an odd answer, but I'm going with Karlos Dansby. I still don't think we've truly seen him dominate a game. He's had outstanding plays – the sideline interception against the Steelers and more notably the sack on Drew Brees, knocking the Saints out of field goal range – but he wants to purely dictate an entire game defensively. I think that's coming soon.

*James Yoak: Percent chance the Browns will have a 1,000 yard rusher this season?*

KJ: I'll go 54 percent. Ben Tate has earned his starting spot, but that doesn't mean offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan will ignore Isaiah Crowell or Terrance West. I picture both getting touches behind Tate and if one of the rookies does develop a hot-hand in a game (which both have proven capable of doing), it will be hard not to keep feeding them the football. I think a goal that will be better suited to this rushing attack is 2,100 total yards. In 2013, the top seven rushing teams boasted at least 2,100 yards. Think of the Browns trio as trapeze artists working together, as opposed to a one-trick pony.

*Jeff Schmidt: Why are we wearing our white unis at home when most of the fan base prefers the Brown tops?  *

KJ: Jeff, I did some digging and the best I could come up with is that uniforms are chosen by the home team months in advance. A recent NFL trend has been for most home teams to wear white jerseys in September. Sometimes the extra heat the dark jerseys attract makes the players sweat more, which make the jerseys more uncomfortable. I don't think the white-on-white will be a season-long trend for the Browns, but that is something organizations tend to keep close to the vest. 

Air Modes*: *if the Browns win the Super Bowl this year what would you do to celebrate?

KJ: Possibly get a tattoo of Brownie the elf. And smoke several fat cigars – baseball bat sized, as Pettine likes to say.

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