Editor’s note: We welcome in Cleveland Browns writer Chris Pokorny of Dawgs By Nature for “Five questions with the enemy,” leading into the Kansas City Chiefs’ matchup with the Browns on Sunday.
1) GM John Dorsey spent 2013-17 with Kansas City before being let go by the organization. How have you liked the job Dorsey has done as general manager in Cleveland?
POKORNY: I think everyone will have hits and misses, but the biggest thing I look at (for year one) is, “How have his first-round pick(s) panned out?” Cleveland has had so many abysmal-to-below-average first-round selections over the years — despite many of those picks being in the Top 10. This year, Dorsey had No. 1 overall and No. 4 overall, and the selections of QB Baker Mayfield and CB Denzel Ward, respectively, seem to be excellent picks. That alone has earned Dorsey all the credit he needs for his first year with the team. Other positives include acquiring Damarious Randall via a trade to make him the starting free safety, and (shockingly) signing former Chiefs CB Terrance Mitchell. Before Mitchell broke his wrist, he was playing like a legitimate starting cornerback. Also, OL Austin Corbett was the No. 33 overall pick of the draft, but is still on the bench because the team doesn’t know where to put him since they have two of the highest-paid guards in the NFL already.
An interesting strategy that Dorsey has had is loading up on late-round draft picks with moves like trading away Cody Kessler, Kevin Hogan, DeShone Kizer, Josh Gordon, Danny Shelton and Carlos Hyde. His demeanor and infamous sweaters are well-liked by Browns fans too. Hopefully, he gets to hire a much better head coach in 2019.
2) What’s the feeling among the fan base with all the chaos surrounding the Browns coaching staff? Do you think fans were happy or sad to see Hue Jackson go? What’s been the reaction to Gregg Williams?
POKORNY: I can confidently say that 99.9 percent of fans were not just happy, but thrilled to see Hue Jackson get fired. The team was 1-31 in his first two years. Losing builds animosity toward a coach, but he truly was just a bad coach from a decision-making, strategic and management perspective. He was the leader of the excuse train week in and week out, and as I send these responses, he is already doing a media tour making more excuses of why the Browns lost under his watch. Gregg Williams’ defense has been opportunistic this year from a turnover perspective, which has drawn him some praise. Some of his catchphrases (as seen during Hard Knocks) come off as amusing. It’s OK that he is taking over as the interim coach. But I don’t think anyone is expecting him to keep the job — there is not a big emotional investment in him among fans.
3) Numbers aside, how has Baker Mayfield looked in his rookie campaign? What stands out as strengths? Weaknesses?
POKORNY: Baker Mayfield got off to a red-hot start, but has cooled off just a bit. However, that is not at all inferring that he has been a disappointment. Much of the issues on offense have been attributed to a lack of time to throw when blitzes come (because the pass protection has been clueless in picking it up), depth issues at receiver and questionable utilization of players we deem to be offensive playmakers (RB Duke Johnson and TE Seth DeValve). As far as strengths go, I think his arm strength and accuracy are solid and that he has a good command of the huddle and offense for a rookie; there are no dumb rookie mistakes. Regarding weaknesses, I feel he sometimes loses a feel of where the pressure is coming from after he has held on to the ball for a few seconds already, and also, some of his passes are thrown just a tad too low, allowing either the defensive line or linebackers to get their hands up and knock passes away. I wouldn’t say the deep ball is a weakness for Mayfield, but very few of them have been attempted, and I don’t believe any have been completed.
4) Were you pleased with the decision to have Carlos Hyde traded to Jacksonville? How has Nick Chubb looked in the No. 1 spot?
POKORNY: Carlos Hyde did nothing wrong — he was a productive back. However, as soon as Nick Chubb was drafted back in April, we knew something had to give. In that sense, it was smart to get a draft pick out of Hyde while the team could. So far, as a runner, Chubb has done well in the No. 1 spot. He has a surprisingly fast burst right when he crosses the line of scrimmage, and if he gets one or two blocks, has displayed the ability to read those blocks well and bounce it to the outside. Neither he nor Hyde are going to catch a lot of passes. Probably the biggest dropoff will be with Chubb’s pass protection, but they will limit the amount of times he has to take on that responsibility.
5) We all know about the strengths of Myles Garrett and how much of a challenge he provides to opposing offenses. Who’s another defensive player Chiefs fans should be aware of? Why?
POKORNY: Forgive me for picking the biggest name besides Myles Garrett, but I will say rookie CB Denzel Ward. He has been up to the challenge of facing any of the receivers. Yes, a couple of receivers have gotten the edge on him using their height or excellent concentration. But Ward has not blown assignments — he tackles well and stays tight to his receiver — and has been a bit of a ballhawk, with three interceptions, two fumble recoveries, and a blocked field goal.