Question 1: What did you see from Joe Flacco last week, and do you expect him to be the starter at quarterback going forward?
Flacco played very well in his debut, looking just like the type of quarterback he was with the Ravens for all those years. That included throwing the ball downfield and with zip on it, which definitely made a lot of Browns fans salivate over him (pushing the ball downfield has been a season-long incapability of our quarterbacks). The offensive line also kept Flacco clean all game. Obviously, if we get into a situation where protection does break down, his lack of mobility is a concern. I think he’ll be the quarterback because it’ll give the team some stability at quarterback as they try to salvage a playoff run; but I understand why others would rather start the more mobile Dorian Thompson-Robinson, because he’ll be the long-term backup on the roster.
Q2: What does Deshaun Watson’s future look like in Cleveland? His fully-guaranteed contract is obviously hard to swallow, but would you expect a quarterback competition next offseason or is Watson the unquestioned starter when healthy?
Whether we like it or not, Deshaun Watson is still the unquestioned starter for the Browns when healthy, and there won’t be a competition for his job next year. There might be a more serious competition for the backup job, though, because the team has seen what’s happened the past two years with him (suspended most of last year, and then rusty/injured this year). Fans wish Jacoby Brissett could’ve stayed with the team; he was awesome last year. We assumed that Brissett signed with Washington this offseason to be a starter there, but instead, they’ve had him on the bench all year.
Q3: We all know that Myles Garrett is freakin’ awesome, but what specifically sets him apart from his peers?
At his best, Myles Garrett is consistently double- and triple-teamed, so it’s a tribute to how dominant he is that not only does the rest of the defensive line benefit from that, but Garrett still finds a way to make several key plays per week. His get-off is second-to-none; every so often, it results in an offsides penalty, but we live with that. Quarterbacks have him in the back of their mind, so they know they have to rush things a little Two weeks ago against the Broncos, Garrett hurt his shoulder and couldn’t lift it — he still stayed on the field and played, but was operating with one arm, limiting his effectiveness. The team said this week that he has “soreness” and no structural damage, and he played with more mobility this past week against the Rams. He still drew double teams, but didn’t have any “impact” plays — a stark contrast from every other game in the season. We’ll see if Garrett’s injury continues to linger against Jacksonville, or if he’ll have regained his strength.
Q4: Cleveland’s defense was putting up historic numbers at the start of the season, and though they’ve cooled off since then, the Browns remain elite on that side of the ball. What have you seen from new coordinator Jim Schwartz compared to his predecessor Joe Woods?
When the Browns’ defense is at its best, they have their cornerbacks playing man coverage and allow their talented pass rushers to get after the quarterback. Additionally, you have the linebackers and safeties going off of their first instinct in trying to tackle or pursue potential receivers, knowing that the quarterback has to deliver the ball quickly. When offenses have that type of system, the Browns’ defense has thrived. Where they have had lapses, though, is when there is either a mobile quarterback, or a rushing attack that features a lot of misdirection. That keeps the defense flat-footed, and then they are no longer in control. We saw that the first time against the Ravens, and a bit against Denver two weeks ago. The other thing that has hindered the team lately is quarterbacks picking on the fact that star cornerback Denzel Ward has been out of the lineup, leading to some big pass plays or defensive pass interference calls. Ward is expected to return this Sunday, though.
Q5: The Browns are 3.5-point favorites according to DraftKings Sportsbook. Which side of the spread do you like, and do any game/player props stand out?
The Jaguars’ quarterback situation is confusing — it seemed like Trevor Lawrence was going to be out for sure, but now he’s been practicing and looking OK in practice? I’ll still go with the premise that Lawrence will either miss the game, or if he plays, his ankle will give him some problems. The Browns’ defense will get back on track with Denzel Ward returning to the lineup. The game/player props are hard to comment on as of this answer; since both quarterbacks aren’t confirmed as starters and since there are some injuries at receiver, the odds aren’t even listed for the game in numerous categories.
Thanks again to Chris for taking the time to answer our questions!
What are your thoughts on this week’s matchup, Jaguars fans? Let us know in the comments!