CLEVELAND, Ohio – In this week’s edition of my Browns mailbag, I answer questions about the 2020 calendar, the project and more. The questions came from our Football Insiders subscribers, and as always, the questions are greatly appreciated. If you would like to become a subscriber, with daily texts from me and our other Browns writers, send us a text at 216-208-3965 or click on the information at the bottom of this article. Thank you!
Hi Mary Kay: The Browns envision a rather difficult schedule. Do you still think, after looking at the schedule, that they will be relevant and competing for a playoff spot? If yes, why? – 216
Hey, 216: I think the Browns will be in the playoffs in 2020 for a number of reasons. For starters, they surrounded Baker Mayfield with more talent, including two new tackles and two new tight ends. But more importantly, they put him in a racing-based game scheme that is suited to his skills and QB. It is set up to succeed in this attack and to maximize the talents of Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, Nick Chubb and the others. I think the coaching will be better this year and will benefit from this talented training. The NFL also added an additional wildcard team to each conference for three each, giving the Browns a much better chance of making the playoffs even though Lamar Jackson has another MVP year and the Ravens are defending their AFC north crown.
Hey Mary Kay! The Saints cut guard Larry Warford today. Would it be interesting for the Browns for the right guard post? Tim, Riverview, Florida.
Hey, Tim: The Browns would be smart to do their due diligence with the triple goalkeeper of the Pro Bowl, and I’m sure they will. You can be assured that GM Andrew Berry will leave no stone unturned in his bid to enhance the talent on this list, and Walford could probably be immediately signed in as the right keeper. Very often, these things come down to money – the right player at the right price. The Browns still have plenty of room to sign a mid-range player like Warford, and they will if it makes sense.
Hey, Mary Kay: What do you think of the Browns’ only 18th ranked offensive? Besides the good guard, I don’t see any weakness. I see a huge disadvantage in setting up a new offense without a real training camp. Looks like a bet against Mayfield who is getting back in shape? – 410
Hey, 410: I saw a post-draft Power ranking from the Bleacher report that ranked the Browns offense 12th, which I think is reasonable before the season. If Baker Mayfield adapts to the new offense like I think he will, they could end up higher. I agree that it has been a disadvantage for the Browns to try to install a new offense with a virtual offseason program so far. If they meet again soon, I think they will be fine. If they do not start training together before camp, it may take some time to reduce their timing, as this is a violation of timing and precision. But if they all work overtime on their own to master the terminology and the games, that should be fine.
Hey, Mary Kay: If you could add an additional free agent to the list, and it was not Jadeveon Clowney, who would you add and why? – Blaine in Grafton, WI
Hey, Blaine: If I were to add one today, it would be linebacker Clay Matthews III. I think it would be a great addition to the defense and I think it would embody the culture change that the Browns are implementing. He had eight sacks last year and is still a playmaker at 33. He can start outside or inside and would be a great leader in the linebacker corps. The fact that his father Clay Jr. had a Hall of Fame caliber career in Cleveland would make it even more special.
Hey, Mary Kay: We know that Rashard Higgins was in Freddie’s niche, but he played occasionally. If he and Baker Mayfield had a good connection, why didn’t Baker use it? Even Baker seems to ignore it. – Tom in Akron, Ohio
Hey, Tom: Higgins didn’t play enough last season for Mayfield to get him the ball. He has played a total of 31 snaps in 10 games and has been targeted 11 times throughout the season. After week 11, he was targeted eight times in total and was finally a healthy scratch in week 17. Of these 11 targets, he caught four passes for 55 yards and a touchdown 1. So Mayfield threw him 35% of the time he was on the field, and if he gets playing time this year – Kevin Stefanski doesn’t play much in threes – I think Mayfield will find his way.
Hey, Mary Kay: I’m puzzled that the Browns didn’t chase Jadeveon Clowney. Not only is he a very good rusher, but he is exceptional against the race. I think it would be a great upgrade from Olivier Vernon and about the same salary. What am I missing? – Mike, Chester, Maryland
Hey Mike: The Browns have chased Clowney this season, but his asking price is high. It originally wanted about $ 20 million a year according to ESPN, and then reduced it to about $ 17 million. At this price, I think the Browns are satisfied with Olivier Vernon, who produces good bags when he is in good health. He has had a lot of injuries in the past two seasons, but is still extremely effective while on the field.
Hey, Mary Kay: They say the Browns have an easy schedule, but they start with the Ravens and then Cincinnati, and the fourth game is against Dallas then the Colts. The Browns could be 1-4 in game six against Pittsburgh. – 804
Hey, 804: I agree that the Browns have a tough opening game in Baltimore, but I see winners in the top five. They should be able to beat the Bengals, Redskins and Colts at home. The only thing about the start of the season is that they might still be freezing and reducing their timing. With a shortened offseason, the first quarter of the season could be a lot of learning on the job. But if they have a fairly complete training camp, that should be fine.
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