A confident and energized Dwayne Bowe dialed into Cleveland Browns Daily yesterday on ESPN 850 WKNR where he delivered a powerful message as to why he thinks the Browns can revitalize his career.
"I'm going to give them something to watch, just like I did in Kansas City," said the 30-year-old wide receiver, who signed with the Browns on March 20. "Making plays, getting the crowd into it and spending time in the Dawg Pound. Just getting that spunk back where, you know, I'm in every game doing something spectacular."
Why is Bowe making fearless predictions? Why did the former Pro Bowler, who led the NFL with 15 touchdown receptions in 2010, turn down other offers from other NFL teams?
The list is long.
Let's start with Andy Reid's system in Kansas City. The longtime Philadelphia Eagles offensive wizard brought his array of short passes to tight ends and running backs to the AFC West. The system worked.
Instead of sputtering into an 8-8 record, Reid helped bring the dinking and dunking Chiefs from worst to first and in the playoffs two seasons ago. A 9-7 record and a slight miss of the playoffs followed in 2014.
Bowe wasn't the focal point of Kansas City's offense (60 catches, 764 yards and no touchdowns) because the Chiefs didn't want him to be.
"My job was to get the ball down field and kind of make big plays," Bowe explained of his role. "That's what Andy did. And in the meanwhile, we had great backs and tight ends making plays. His scheme worked. Once we got in the red zone, most teams covered me and try and take me out. We had Jamaal Charles who led the league in touchdowns."
In their meetings last month, Browns general manager Ray Farmer, coach Mike Pettine and offensive coordinator John DeFilippo sat down and showed Bowe how effective they could make him in Cleveland's revamped passing game. In the year DeFilippo called plays for San Jose State, the Spartans soared dozens of spots in the major passing statistical categories.
DeFilippo and Pettine, who is now focusing his attention on how he can help the offense score more points, haven't divulged as many concepts about the passing plans as they have rushing, but the film cut-ups had Bowe perked up in his seat.
The final deciding factor was feeling at home. Farmer and executive chief of staff Bill Kuharich were in Kansas City when the Chiefs drafted Bowe. The receiver spoke highly of his relationship with Farmer.
"Me and Ray have history," Bowe reiterated several times through the interview. "It was all about the positive energy when I walked in the building. Everybody just embraced me and knew what kind of person I was, on and off the field – what Dwayne Bowe comes with. The whole city was welcoming me when I landed. It felt like it was Kansas City but in a new environment. The energy was just amazing."
Bowe didn't escape the interview without talking about the proverbial elephant in the room that the Browns organization has not shied away from acknowledging: Who's playing quarterback?
And while it's not the perfect answer a receiver would like to hear, Bowe has dealt with uncertainty at the position through many of his seasons with the Chiefs. Bowe didn't deny he factored in quarterback play in his decision to come to Cleveland, but whether it's Josh McCown, Johnny Manziel, Connor Shaw, Thaddeus Lewis – or even someone not on the roster yet – the veteran can control what he can control, and he'll trust his pal, Farmer.
"When the ball is thrown to you, just catch the ball and make the play," Bowe said. "I know Ray and our organization want to turn it around. You can't worry about that – it has nothing to do with football. They are going to put the right pieces in place. My job is to catch the ball no matter who is throwing it. I've been doing that my whole career."
Bowe speaks his mind and he speaks it powerfully. It may be repetitive, but it's significant to bring it up again: Donte Whitner, Karlos Dansby and Andrew Hawkins infiltrated the Browns' locker room last season with confidence coming from winning programs. Removing a losing culture takes time. It takes manpower. It takes players who have guts to speak loudly like Bowe.
Bowe will have to show up when the bullets start flying. But as he told Cleveland Browns Daily, he can't wait to show the rest of the NFL he can still be "spectacular."