CLEVELAND — The Browns are getting set for the first leg of the "Battle of Ohio" this Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals, but that's not what most fans are talking about.
The big story revolves around Odell Beckham Jr., who may have played his last game in a Cleveland uniform. The star receiver's father called out quarterback Baker Mayfield Tuesday, and coaches apparently told him not to come to practice on Wednesday.
"Voice of the Browns" and 3News sports anchor Jim Donovan addressed the OBJ saga in his latest "Jimmy's Take" earlier today, but later on "Front Row," he also took some of your other questions regarding the state of the team in his "Hey Jimmy" segment. Let's get started:
Hey Jimmy: "Are you concerned that the Browns' roster contains too many players whose pay is elite, but not their play? For example, the receiver room (including tight end Austin Hooper) and their defensive backfield." - Ed in Concord Township
First of all, I think the receiver room's going to get a little light in salary in a couple of hours with OBJ leaving. But my other point to you is this: I kind of like developing players that you draft rather than signing free agents. I think in the free-agent world, sometimes you end up with a lot of buyer's remorse.
The Browns have given out huge signing bonuses to some newcomers, but the play doesn't back it up on the field, at least through the first eight games. You are right as rain on that one, and I want to see these guys start to really earn those big numbers in the next couple of weeks.
Hey Jimmy: "The Browns are a mess! The defense is as plain as it gets. Why aren't we using different fronts, blitzing, and making quarterbacks throw the ball before they want to? The Steelers haven't scored a lot of points all year, but we let 'Big Ben' sit back and make the big play when he needed it." - Tony in Geneva.
On the "Big Ben" front: Big play? A lot of little plays, okay. That's the new Steeler offense.
Now, the Browns feel they're going to get their pressure with their front four. It is not a defense right now that's designed to get big plays out of those linebackers. They want big plays out of Clowney and out of Garrett and out of Malik Jackson and players like that.
And they really don't want to be a huge blitzing team. That's just the style of Joe Woods, but it's up for argument right now because it hasn't been good. It better be good this Sunday, because Joe Burrow and that Bengal passing game are really legit.
Hey Jimmy: "A good running game opens up deep strikes down the field with play-action passes. Do you think the fact that the Browns have been throwing short passes has been noticed by other NFL teams and they're moving the safeties up, stacking the box knowing they don't have to worry about deep passes?" - Steve in Portage Lakes
First of all, Steve, some of the coolest people that I know in the world right now come from Portage Lakes (Sara Shookman will be happy).
Now back to your question: The Browns' running game is the key to everything. That's supposed to open up that passing game, but the Steelers and Arizona did something that Denver also tried to do: They're crowding the box on the Browns. Eight up on the box, out-numbering the Browns' offensive line.
If that doesn't get broken up, that's going to be a problem. That's why Nick Chubb only ran for a little over 60 yards on Sunday.
The whole key to open up the Browns' passing game is if that running game works, and if that starts, then everything will fall into place.
You can get your question for Jim Donovan answered during a future edition of "Hey Jimmy." Simply text your question to us (216) 344-3300, and we'll select three to be answered each Wednesday on Front Row. Please make sure to include your name and where you are texting us from.
We look forward to hearing from you! In the meantime, check out Jimmy's Take on Odell Beckham Jr.