Sarah Barshop & Jake Trotter


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And I it's like I said, the quietest time of the year if you're a beat writer for seventy covers a team or someone who covers the league, this time, typically maybe to go on vacation, this is your rare chance inside or outside the league to kind of get a break. Unless you're team fires their general manager with no notice. And we're gonna talk about that today. We're gonna have the Cleveland Browns a little later on their situation. But I can talk about the Houston Texans talk about their GM situation today and cloudy situation in all kinds of stuff with their off-season with our ESPN reporter Sara, barshop, Sarah, how are you? I'm doing great. How are you? I'm good. I have to ask you, so, you know the draft happens with the Texans simply it's kind of a quiet offseason, still a couple of things to get to, but nothing crazy, and then June seventh suddenly, the Texans, I believe on a Friday if I'm not mistaken fire. Their general manager Brian gain with very little notice. I mean how, how shocked were you that they made that decision when they did I was absolutely shocked? I mean one he was less than two years. This contract, he signed. So it's not even on my later. I mean, people are asking about Bill Byrne contract last year because just rebelled the beginning of the season, and I was like there's nobody who could fire there's no way count McNair would fi, you know, or Baba's Harewood fire Bill, so in the contract, and now you like, oh, well, maybe names business, and he doesn't care about that. So I was absolutely shocked everyone around the building was shocked even after I saw the news, because the team announced it, and I thought this is. This joke. Everyone I recap some people in the organization they're like, yeah, we just found out right before you guys did. So it was absolutely as fries for a lot of people, including myself him, seems like this is an organization that under Bob McNair was almost to a fault, really conservative when it came to the coaches GM's, someone like Gary kubiak, for example, his run as head coach. I mean, there are people calling for him to kind of move on years before he actually ended up being fired Rick Smits, someone who went through some controversy here. And there went through some lean years, but kept his job until he decided to leave last year. It seems like they have been they were really patient under McNair until he passed away. And now it seems like maybe that could be changing or is it just you think a one off? I think the fact that Nick that count McNair, even his big thing was he went through a he looked through the entire football organization, innovated everyone. I mean to even do that. I think shows that you just wanna make sure you're on the right path, and you're winning. I don't. I mean maybe a lot of teams owners do that. But in June, that seems kind you know, it seems really interesting. So I don't know that this is gonna he's gonna get be, you know, firing people left and right. But I think it signals to everyone organization that you're being evaluated and you're not safe doesn't matter. If you're under contract, you have to win. You have to prove that you belong here every single day. So in terms of evaluating game and you're really he said into his second season with the roll a guy who took over general manager, and then in last year's draft in the twentieth team draft and not have a first round pick or a second round pick, if I'm not mistaken. From the traits up for Shawn Watson Brock Osweiler. You know, some ups and downs certainly but guy took over a team that was not in the playoffs and that team that did make the playoffs a year ago. I mean is there can you piece together independently a case, I would make you think. Yeah, you know, this guy probably hasn't done enough and deserve to be fired. Or, or do you think there's just something else, sort of apply here? Did. She did the drafting. Well now other that is just hammers biller the stack you put together, you know, certainly everyone's involved. He took Justin read into third round to teach you in the fourth round the year, though. And then Gordon, Thomas tie-down who's probably gonna start from this year and the six round. I thought they had a very good draft last year. Obviously, we have no idea about this year. I think maybe free agency could be the area that the Texas ownership wasn't happy with. They were very quiet now. Other heave and hut. The tools to go out and make aggressive offers. I mean they were outfit for tire. Matthew, who a lot of people around the organization hopes to be back. They lost Jackson without even really bidding for him. So I would say frequency, probably had a little bit to do with it, but as the Texans as every other teen their cash budget is very different from what the actual cap spaces. So I mean, I don't know that was gained if he was handcuffed or what that was. If he didn't want to spend the money, but I think you can point that slow free. Maybe the reason they took a look at the. Yeah. I mean, I guess that makes sense and certainly they were holes in that roster last year that they did try and get Nate solar, and that deal ended up going to the giants and doesn't look right after year. Matthew, I mean signed for one year last season but really good deal. It seems like turned out really well Aaron Kovin not so much. I mean, the guy who was really wasn't even playing the end of the first season with the with the team is certainly some ups and downs there. But it's really interesting. And of course, the natural progression was okay. We'll who were they going to hire good came pretty clear pretty quickly, that they were going to target an Caserio from the patriots? And do you think that they made this move sort of thinking, okay, we're making this knowing we're going to be able to or thinking, very strongly, we're going to be able to get Nicotera? I don't believe you can make that move to fire. Fire Brian game, who from everything? I've been told it was not something. I mean it was just that they didn't feel he's doing good enough shop. It wasn't no scandal, wasn't one big thing that they said, okay, you've got to go, so if there's nothing that really pushes you over that point, except that you look at us work as a home and you just side. You're not happy with it. I mean you have to believe that you're gonna get Nicosia area. I don't see that there's any other reason that you make that move if you don't have the person in mind, you don't fire someone on June seventh. If you don't know who you're going after. Right. I absolutely agree. It just it just makes no sense. Right. Like, like the fact that they came out so quickly afterwards, it wasn't like they went through an interview process, and then suddenly realized they wanted Caserio. It seemed like it was almost you know, by the end of that weekend. It was okay. Well, they're going to be going after Nicosia. Did you think they're going to have the same sort of troubles, ended up having do you think that they kind of figured? They were going to be able to get Caserio without paying compensation. I think the. Come out is that in his contract, he has this quad. This says he can interview with their teams. They said they worked with leak calms down near set in the statements of the league, make sure they were born all of this. You're telling me that if they did that and they went through the league they didn't know about this clause in the contract to me that doesn't really add up. So I have to believe this FA we're going to get him. But either I mean I don't know what happened there. But the fact that this painting get vetted before and all came out, seems kinda crazy to me, it does seem bad. It does seem like they should've maybe figure that out in advance before they fire their general manager when after Caserio at this point, it seems like it's not going to happen at the very least this off season. So given where they are now given that they fired given that they're not going after Caserio or they can't get Caserio right now. Do you think they wait? Maybe wait till the off season after twenty nineteen to go after Caserio again. Do. Think they go after someone else now. Or are they going for a temporary higher? I mean, what do you what do you do at this situation that's developed into such a mess? Out of nowhere. Adam Schefter reported that strongly considering having the team in place in the staff in place. Take over the roles of the GM split amongst everyone to me that seems I mean, everyone has a general manager is like I don't doubt that the staff they haven't played can do this. But there's a reason that everyone else has general manager now, if because here goes your guy, and you believe that you can get him after the season. And there's no point in hiring temporary Jenner voter. Can't do anything really until tan cuff in the writings on the wall that they would then if because hero became available. They would then try and hire him in fire this temporary higher. So right now, looks like going garden to be in charge of personnel. Jack Easterby who came over from New England so season he charged football operations Chris Olsen was doing contracts, which are does now. And then, and that's an error all our McNair. But to me, what's interesting does that the day, the. The first press conference we had after dragging was fired. We talked to build bone, and he said, someone asked him about, like, do you feel like you're going to get more time out of the situation, basically? And he said, I don't even think about power, but you look at this Bill O'Brien is in charge of all of the personnel. I mean essentially use the general manager right? I mean in all practical matters, it seems like he would be the general manager in that situation. And I, I will just say, I find it hard to believe that Bill O'Brien has not thought about power when it comes to the football operations of an NFL team, let alone this very particular NFL team. I mean, do you think. It seems like there has been some criticism levied towards Brian that he may be difficult to work with. Do you think that's fair, given what's happened over the past few years in Houston, or is he just someone who you know, maybe demands a lot out of the people he works with? I probably, you know, everyone looks differently with other people now someone asks them about that. And he said, I mean depends who you ask right? Like I try and be, you know, to work with but I know on demanding sensually, and he said that when thing he feels like he needs to work on his communication. So if you read between the lines there, maybe you know, he feigned didn't have a great relationship didn't communicate well towards the end. Maybe that's reason why. They felt like each other were difficult to work with. But yeah, I like you don't believe that he has never thought power and thinking about the only other team in the league, I believe right now that has the head coach of the general federal managers came person. They'll check in New England. And certainly it seems like Bill. Bell track is someone who over the years is sort of earned that, right? Right. Like, like you can't really argue with Bill Bill check success, but Bill O'Brien. They've been successful franchise, while he's been there, generally, but not necessarily the best with personnel and not necessarily a team that has been quite as successful as the patriots have been burnt, Sarah. Let's talk about the rest of the Texans off season, the and clowney contract situation in a moment, but first guys, they say a great offense starts with a great defense, and that's especially true. When it comes to the fuel, you put in your car shell v power nitro plus premium gasoline is engineered with four levels of defense against gunk, where corrosion, and friction to help keep your engine running like new, and now you and your car have even more reasons to celebrate with the shell great gas giveaway your chance to win free fuel for a year or one of thousands of. Prizes with a total price value of over a million dollars. If you a fuel rewards member, you'll automatically receive one entry every time you fill up with eight gallons or more. And if you choose new Shelby, power nitro plus premium gasoline, you don't get four entries. That's three more not a member. Download will the fuel rewards app or go to fuel rewards dot com slash win to join in engines that continuously use shell v power nitro plus premium gasoline. No purchase is necessary promotion ends September. First two thousand nineteen see official rules at fuelrewards dot com slash win for how to enter by mail. All details. Now back to the show in terms of the offseason on the whole let's just putting the general manager situation aside. Just in terms of the personnel moves they made with their roster. How do you grade this Texans offseason, are do you think that they're in a much better place than they were coming into the off season? The NFL his entire nasty was big piece now signed Gibson, they've added some other players in the secondary. But I think that the second is not any better not offend seven probably about the same on offense. If healthy you have a very good offense Fullerton say healthy KiKi to say face. But that's a big if so I think there are still a lot of the biggest one was the offensive line, and they dress that, but I don't know that they did enough to address it. You don't who knows what these draft picks? You know they tackle with they had three picks in the first round, and they took Titus Howard in the first round pick twenty three in the fifty five took Matt Scharping from northern Illinois. Now, those guys who maybe we'll be ready. Maybe they'll play guards this year but I don't know how many tackles in their first uses are ready to provide the same production that Shawn Watson needs. So I don't know how much offensive line got better. No. You don't wanna pay overpay freeze for tackles. It hasn't always works. Fast melt Silva. But I think they need to do maybe a little bit more on the offense of running, and it's showing off and doesn't have time to throw the bell. No, he owns the phone. It's the bed for vile because of the style plays very mobile quarterback, six then plays, but if they can't fix up part of the offense, it doesn't matter who you're throwing to necessarily, if you, you know if he's getting hit, and he doesn't make it through the season healthy this year. Absolutely. I mean, those guys Titus hired you mentioned Maxx shopping, I think they'd both be, you know, sort of charitably described as projects guys who could turn out to be incredible football players down the line, and no could be molded into, you know, very valuable offensive lineman guy. So you would not necessarily expect to like you said, make that sort of immediate impact as starter week one of twenty nine thousand Nick, it could happen, certainly. But I don't think that's one of those guys were evaluated heading into the season. The guy who did bring in a veteran, this off say, someone Matt Kalil who didn't play last year that major injury issues. Jeez, pretty much his entire career after the first season and. A guy who has not lived up to expectations after that, first year in Minnesota, and then most recently in Carolina. So it really does feel like they're sort of, you know, they're, they're sort of on a precipice here where if you have guys stay healthy, and you guys not, you know, guys stay healthy and then guys development quicker than we are expecting this could be an absolutely terrifying. Offensive if all these guys are on the field at the same time, but it's really scary to think about the same time to the offense, lineman don't work if it's just Watson running for his life guy, who you know, has an injury history himself offense could go south really quickly if they can't keep Watson on the field. Data that data to absolutely if the pick our division winner. And I hope I mean I just think with watching Andrew luck last year tells me he's just as good as he was foreign is geared impressive games. I saw place. And some it's not like you're beating up on the teams in your division anymore. Jacksonville Nicole, so those are not tougher gains and it's not just necessarily get passed to the playoffs as a baby was a couple years ago for a little easier, you know. So I think it's gotten harder and you can't discount that when you look at what the Texans are going to do here. Yeah. Absolutely. I mean this was a division that sent to teams the playoffs last year. You know, obviously came within a game of Sunday, thirteen possibly as a wildcard. I mean this was eight or not a game but you know, certainly a winning record in in. Third in Tennessee. Jacksonville was a division winner as recently as Yuriko almost a Super Bowl team out of the AFC. So the Texans finished anywhere from first to fourth, honestly, n. Any of those positions wouldn't shock me. And I think let me ask you this, if they do struggle, if they do finish third or fourth nece division, if they don't make the postseason new think they will be at least from the fans side of things there will be sort of a inquest towards moving on from Bill O'Brien and sort of blaming him for the issues with this ball team at don't have hired, Jim. Like, I don't know how many decisions he can actually make now in terms of who we can add the rest or just because where we are in the year. But if he's had what seven months of being in charge of personnel, and they don't win encountered near is now shown that maybe contracts don't really mattered him and you just want to win. I'm not saying that they will fire him to stay have a bad year, but certainly the fans that Houston will be calling for him. I think it's absolutely fair and the other issue that still has to be sort of decided this off season. That is the contracts that associating cloudy who. Franchise. I think that makes sense, given that they were not close to a long term deal someone you don't want to leave by any means. But there's been very little movement. It seems like in his contract negotiations this deal that I figured it'd be very tough to negotiate heading into this offseason and really has not looked any different over the course of last few months. Do you think they are any closer to a deal than they were two or three months ago and sort of what's the most likely outcome of the Geneva inclining situation, both in the short term for Houston in nine thousand nineteen and then in the long term. In fact, that they didn't regain Dreamin last year before the season, kind of tells me, how far apart decides her. I mean typically, that's when they extend guys, that's when you hook and got his big contract. Now, of course, Hopkinson very healthy and very consistent Connie hits of injury history beginning career. But he's missed his lung game in the past two seasons. So he's proven himself. He's proven how good he can be in the fact that they weren't ready to pay him, then tells me that key, perhaps wants more money than they're willing to give him now I'm sure that is for almost any contract negotiation. But, you know, he's probably looked at the number. That's who he'll MAC daughter earned that he wants that. Now, I don't believe he's the caliber, he's shown that purview those players, but they look at the money for, you know the year he was drafted in the position he plays. And then that's the number out there right now. If the Texans don't wanna play that I just I don't see this getting done certainly before the. July his kids up on everybody. Took this. You're on the franchise. I think a hold out for training camp. I don't think he'll miss regular season games and more than a million dollars a game. I think he'll be out there, especially if he wants to contract, and they'll have to cap space to franchise them again. Now he doesn't want to be here because he's frustrated about that. You know, maybe you try and trade them. I think they wanna the field more than they'd be willing. They want anyone for him. So I don't know. I, I just up this point signed it hard to believe that he'll sign a long term deal in Houston based on the negotiations offense afar. Absolutely. I mean, they think about even even beyond that sort of top tier of Cleal MAC and von Miller. Look at Trey flowers, a guy who know very underrated player with the patriots, someone who was very valuable in the playoffs. Is this a solid to a player but doesn't have the sort of upside, or explosiveness that has different cloudy has he got five years, nineteen million when he hit free agency client is gonna hit rate, and see if they don't if they don't franchise for the season? He'll be twenty seven. I believe hitting free agencies with the prime of his career someone who has been healthy over the past couple of years like you said, wildly explosive guy who could be, you know when he's on his game possible defensive player of the year candidates that good just hasn't been necessarily putting together full sixteen game season any point so far. I mean you know, he's I can see both sides of this argument. I just think that for the Texans I mean. Are you really going to be happier if you let him go? I mean this is a team that has the shown Watson right now making a fraction of what he's worth in terms of his contract. So if you're ever going to go out and pay to incredible pass rushers, JJ watt and cloudy, you know, sixteen seventeen million dollars a year. Well, this is the time to do it. So I it sort of, you know, I can understand why they don't want to buy him at that level. But I think it's pretty clear that if he hits free agency, someone is going to value him at that level. Right. And that's why I'm assuming that he and his sides are not willing to settle because they know if he is a free agent dictate. But if you're the Texans is this not the time I mean, this is your Super Bowl into right? You have to expect and hope that he'll be very good for many years. But this is the Tom like you said, he's honest repeal. They have the money to put guys around him to pay clowney. If it's a seems like they should. I mean and certainly it seems like if they don't pay him. And they end up having a disappointing season and cloudy news on after the year, I think someone's going to get the blame for this and it's probably not going to be Brian game who's no longer there. Yeah. Absolutely. I mean, I think this is a really important Caesar Bill Brian. You told us that after Amos fires Cao sat down him and said, I've got some very, you know, these are the things you need to do to improve and Bill wouldn't tell us what they were. But he said that calendar. Very clear vision of what he wants his organization to look like in the goals. He wants to hit and I have to believe that Bill, Brian does not either show progress or hit those goals that, you know, McNair, we'll do another thorough evaluation next off. So, what would be not knowing would necessarily that criteria were what do you think would be successful season for the Texans? That would satisfy the fan base and have them excited about, you know, the twenty twenty season by the time twenty nineteen is over. I think a playoff win. You know they have one unload Bryant. And that was over over Connor cook in the raiders last you know, in twenty six with Brock Osweiler. So they've been blown out multiple times in the house, you know. So it's one thing to have a good regular season but I think they need to make the playoffs, and I think they need at least a win now they've never been to an AFC championship game. And I'm not saying that's what the next step is in terms of it has to happen this year, but I would think in the next couple of years. That's what McNair listen for Jeff talents there. I think there's very few teams in football. The have the core of young top level talent that Texans have. It's just whether it's Brian, whether it's the holes in the roster something else, they just haven't been able to get that next level. But we'll check it out this upcoming season and Sarah, if people want to check out your Texans coverage where can they do that? Find me on Twitter at at, sir barshop and between no my stuff fair. Or if you go to texins page on ESPN all be there as well. Eric, thanks much. We're going to get back here on the Bill Barnwell show Jake Trotter talking about the Cleveland Browns and their off season in a moment, high Fuster, only here and my friends at marathon, are really helping you save. Because right now you can get five cents off every gallon every day with naked count rewards from Baratheon. Plus you can earn points for digital savings on fuel. Airfare hotels in more. It's quick and easy to join. Just visit make it count dot com slash radio or download the free app. So start saving today with make it count from marathon, offer valid only participating marathon locations marathon, fueling the American spirit. All right, back here on the Bill Barnwell show, still go, and we'll VSBN joined by our new branch reporter at ESPN and talking about the Cleveland off season which is been very fascinating in a number of different ways. It's Jake Trotter Jake. How are you? I'm doing well, Bill. Thanks for having me on. I a big fan of work for a long time have enjoyed the podcast for a long time. So it's great to be on with you. See this is great. When we have new guests on this is exactly what I want to hear. But no, that's very nice of you to say happy to have you on the college football for us for a long time. So happy to have him on the NFL happy to have you on the Browns and you're joining the cover. I think one of the most fascinating teams in football at the moment, which even a year ago would have been crazy to say about the Cleveland Browns, but a lot has happened in twelve months, a lot has happened. They finish incredibly well last year, and then had arguably definitely most interesting off season. I think if anybody and maybe the best depending on how it how it pans out. But I think when you stack what they are on paper with the narrative of it'd be in Cleveland having been so long since they were good. I think makes for an extremely compelling season in Cleveland and probably the most intimated one since the Browns came back. In the late nineties down. And it certainly seems like that. I absolutely feels like this is a this is one of the Martines in football right now in a way that I think it hasn't been like you said, really made any point since the Browns came back from there, there's sort of hiatus in between the, the old Brown two years in the this new Browns franchise. You talked about the off season. And when we did grades for the offseason, they SPN the Braskin on is I believe the best if not one of the best grades of any team for their off season, the work at I can't find a reason to poke a hole in that there's nothing about this offseason that makes me think, oh, well, they screwed this up or, or they necessarily the overpaid for this or that, I mean, if you were playing devil's advocate, if there was something you wanted to point out and say, oh, well, maybe that might not work out as, as Browns fans are hoping or maybe there's a reason to be skeptical about this. There was something that, you think you know, one of the moves they made might not work out, perhaps as promised. Only as a, you know, it might seem on paper at the moment. I it's really hard to make that case. Now to get Odal you had to make a trade, right? And you can defensive line a little bit offensively. That's, that's clearly, the big question Mark came. They protect can they block defensively. I think they're couple areas where they traded some depth away from safety, but no I mean, I think the big moves they made the defensive line to me has a chance to be in. This is Freddie kitchens opinion, the strength of the entire team and one of the best in the NFL and then you add a talent like Odell. I mean, you know, we'll see how the chemistry works, but when you have an opportunity to add a player like that you have to you have to do it, and I think, you know his comraderie with, with not only Baker Mayfield. The Jarvis Landry has the chance to form something really special in the passing game. Yeah, I think I have -solutely. As, as someone a group at the giants fan. I, I would say, I heartily that went Oto Beckham is available that you should trying to choir him, or perhaps you should keep him. But unfortunately that that move is made that the ship is sale. No Beckham is a member of the Cleveland Browns on the flip side of this, there certainly made a bunch of additions and most of them were pretty well known player. Sherwood Beckham's, your Sheldon, Richardson's, your VA Vernon's, is there, someone you think they added this off season whether was in free agency or in the draft that you think might have the opportunity to explode a little bit might have the opportunity to break out more than than Browns fans. Exactly right now, as I think about the roster and who might be oppressive for them this year. Well in order to acquire a deal they had to trade away first-round Ron pig. So they weren't able to draft anybody until the second round they moved up into greedy Williams out of LSU. And that was a guy that I think a lot of people felt like had a chance to go in the first round. I think he's a first round. Talent and he was one of the big storylines at minicamp. And you know, had to pick six in one situation and just made a lot of place was competitive, and I think they feel like within zone at one side in greedy on the other for that, for the next few years, they have a chance to have a formidable cornerback duo, which I think would really complement their defense align. Obviously very well. So I think really in the way that Denzel emerged for them early on last year. I think has the chance to do the same thing. And you know he's not a first round draft pick, but I think he has a chance to make that kind of impact for this team. I mean, you think about Cornerbacks and the NFL usually they do struggle as rookies even even your role Rivas guys who ended up being phenomenal players. They're pretty bad. Usually as rookies you look at Denzel award. He was excellent as a rookie cornerback. So you would hope that really Williams can deliver that, that same sort of impact, and then suddenly, you have to really impressive cornerback on the division where. You have wide receiver. So we're going to move around. You have your AJ grants. You have your Tyler Boyd Cincinnati. You have of course, Jewish Schuster nine Antonio Brown anymore, but juju over in Pittsburgh, who's going to be a player who can move around and sort of challenge you on both sides of the fields. I you know, you need to Cornerbacks went in the NFL at this point. And this was a team that they were getting by at the other corner facts about last year without Denzel award. But I think certainly the upside there and that's secondary is so much higher than it was even when year ago. It gives them more versatility to so they can they can play TJ Carey in nickel spot. They can play three corners feel confident and playing three corners more. So just having a guy like greedy at the other spot. I think will allow the overall unit to be better not just that particular one as well, urgent. Let's talk more about the Browns off season and their expectations for twenty nineteen in a moment. But first guys, finding a new job is a lot of work. And what if you had your own personal cruder to help you find a better job now ZipRecruiter's technology, which, of course, we used to talk about from the employers side of things can also do that for you? Potential employees to get that just download the ZipRecruiter job search app. Let it know what kind of jobs, you're interested in and its technology starts doing the work for you. Sip recruiter finds jobs. 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Replacing Desmond Harrison who was recently cut, but the guy who was committed more penalties than anybody else in football. When he's been on the field and committed the penalty, I believe sorry. No. Getting rid of the penalty, I think in every game he started last year. It could be mistake on that, but pretty close a lot of penalties. Do you think there's another position, besides left tackle that would worry Browns fans? Or do you think it's just going to be the offense of line? That's that's really the biggest concern for them heading into the regular season. Well along the offense align, I think, right? Guard is is a spot to watch which the Vernon trait created a vacancy and it looks like Austin Corbett is going to get the first crack there. But, you know, he's an unproven player, they drafted drew Forbes in the middle rounds out of a small school in Missouri. And I think he's more of a developmental guy at this point. But I think in time, you know, he could he could really bolstered him in a lot of versatility, as well, whether it's inside or outside, but, you know, I think I think you know safety is, is a little bit of a question Mark, if we're going to expand it out. It's talking about them addressing the quarterback situation, but they have got a Morgan brunette. They've got the mirrors ran on a contract year. They have confidence there. But I think if you're looking at the defense. Okay. Like, we'll see how that works. They traded for Eric Marie from the chiefs with Dorsey avenue connection to him back in Kansas City. So again, like I this is not a perfect team Bill. I mean we can we can pick at a couple of spots, but I don't see like any overwhelming glaring weakness item, which I think, is important as well. It's not like there's an area on paper going into the season where you say now they've got to do something to address that, at least early on at least in the off season it looks like even where there may be a little bit deficient. They look okay. Yeah. And I think this is the vision where there aren't you know, there's no perfect team in this deficient. The Bengals have, you know, their offensive line has been a mess really worse than the Browns up lying on paper heading into the season. And certainly some holes there on the defensive side of the ball. Spell Baltimore loss ton of talent on the defensive side of the ball, several valuable starters, most notably. CJ Moseley and Lamar Jackson entering his second season. As quarterback they're they're in transition on offense. And certainly we've heard reports that there are some struggles there in, in sort of installing Greg Romans offense there in Baltimore. And then Pittsburgh again, team that lost Mike munch on offensive line coach Lebanon Bellas on the roster last year. But they lost Levy Balan. Of course they traded Antonio Brown for a couple of mid round picks lost a superstar wide receiver so reasons to think their offense might not be as good as it was a year ago and they had holes in the secondary and at linebacker last year as well. And they they've made some additions, they may end up working out, but this is not a division where it feels like the Browns are significantly deficient in terms of talent, relative to the rest of the division in a way that has not been the case, maybe ever during their run on the AFC north since coming back the window is there, and I think we're talking about expectations really to me, there are three factors that go into it how they finished last year with with Baker quarterback in this success. They had with Freddie kitchens as the OC in some. Of the things they did the last half of the season. What they did the off season trading, Adele bolstering the defensive line drafting green Williams, and then what has happened to the AFC north and, and those teams in chipped away against a little bit. So. Are they the favorite to win the north FBI thinks they are at thirty five point five percent? You know, even they haven't wanted division title since eighty nine which is, I think the longest active drought. It would have to be right. Nine wins feels like sort of the barometer for them. And I look at the schedule. It's not it's, it's, it's not it's not the most difficult in the NFL by any means it feels like they can get their to ten wins. I mean, I think that that is there for them because of who they play. In the division. But also, you know how much better this team is compared to what where it was two years ago. Yeah. I was gonna ask you. I mean I, I was gonna actually with that. But I'll just get to it now. In terms of fan base expectations. This is a team that was seven eight and one last year there year removed from being an Owen sixteen team. And then, before that, I wanted fifteen team, this is eighteen is I've had a winning record since two thousand seven and before that two thousand to do think that a nine seven record will be satisfying result for Browns fans, if they don't make the playoffs or is it really just playoffs or bust sort of satisfy expectations heading into the season? I think it's a disappointment if they don't make the playoffs. I don't I don't think so I have to win the division but if they're not in the playoffs. It's a disappointment given everything that they have done. And you know, it's interesting when you look at this franchise and just be new to the scene. There's this weird combination of like just bridled excitement about what this team could become with a sense of a heavy dose of it, like ominous fatalism. And I think that on paper if you. If this was just like a team vacuum. It wasn't Cleveland, you know, we'd be saying, okay, this is a team that has a chance to make a deep run in the playoffs. But because it's the Browns there's always a caveat that well they look good. And I can go through a bunch of different numbers, that would suggest that they have a chance to be top ten authencity defensively this year without that much difficulty. And yet, I think that because it's Cleveland people are waiting for it to maybe not work out something to happen with ode L Baker at a regress or whatever. But I mean I to me given what they have on this team if they don't make the playoffs a disappointment. I agree I agree with you. I think there's some element of which is Cleveland, I know a couple years ago, I wrote about the Browns and their one or fifteen. And I said, hey, the numbers say this is the most likely team in football to improve and they went and sixteen. And then I. And then I. You know, may babies just maybe it's Cleveland. And maybe I'm just the numbers can account for that. But then the never say they were going to improve last year. It's hard to get worse than on sixteen and they went seventy one so. There. It feels unfair. Right. Like Baker Mayfield has not been a member of the Cleveland Browns for twenty years Oto Beckham has been there for a matter of months. I mean, there's, there's nothing to stick these guys with that should have any sort of stigma. They have been successful players at the college level and at the professional level. So you would figure that, that there's nothing to really define extent. But it does feel like they're going to have to make the playoffs for that to go away. And once they do you would figure if they're competitive team this year if they win the north if they make the playoffs, they'll be in good shape going forward. They have Baker for two more years at a relatively cheap cap number. They have a very competent general manager. It looks like in John Dorsey. The only thing you might look towards might have questions about, I guess would be the coaching situation where you have Freddie kitchens, who was not, very experienced coach at this level, and then they Brigham Todd monk, and as the in their reports from NFL networks, make silver that there is some difficulty happening in their, the tide and has been struggling to. Get the offense going ask the offensive coordinator, which granted seems very early in the process, but he's been struggling, and it's been more, Freddie kitchens, and perhaps people were expecting. Do you put a lot of stock in those reports? It's something that you think Browns fans need to watch for. Is it just sort of a quiet time in there? Some people have to report something kind of feels like the ladder to me, and I'm not comment on the report itself, but, you know, Todd monkey and, you know, well respected NFL coach had a chance to be a head coach this go around, and I think has a terrific chance to be head coach down the line somewhere as well. You know, OT as they didn't have very many guys there. They didn't have Adele. They didn't have do Johnson. Jarvis Landry was Nick dub. So we basing this on three days and minicamp, really two and a half. I, I don't know how you can make that determination. Just yet considering how short it's been with this group together. So I, I think you have to give it way more time before you make a determination that it, it's not working or that there is some trouble at the same time, there's a lot of pressure on Freddie kitchens, right for as a rookie head coach to produce because of like, like, like we said, you know, everything that they've done leading up to this point of the last twelve months. So he he's going to be under a lot of pressure to win rookie head coats on a franchise that hasn't been in the playoffs in forever since two thousand two but I do think that his personality seems to mesh pretty well with this group, you know, lot of big personalities when you talk about Baker when you talk about Odell and others. Freddie is more low key know pretty pretty straightforward comes off very down to earth. And, you know, like with the first minicamp is my first day on the job, basically, and it was like Duke Johnson reiterates he wants to be traded. You know, it's on salvageable Baker Mayfield says that, you know, he's basically tired of this, and, you know, it's time for him to get on the train like it's all this drama right off the bat, and then you look out. And you can't you're watching practice and fried. He's got his arm around. Do Johnson know talking to them and not ostracizing him by any means because that's a guy if he stays in helped him because they don't have Kareem hunt until the second half of the season, potentially. So I think that just my survey shin. And again, it's a really small sample size. But I think his personality has a chance to mesh really well with the players that they have in that locker room. And at the end of the day, it's going to come down to those players in producing to their capability. And I think with Freddie, there that has a chance to happen quickly as an aside. I mean, do you think there's anything to that Baker Mayfield? Duke Johnson story or is it sort of just it's already in the past, and it was just a sort of a tempest in a teacup. Yeah. I mean, I it's interesting, I've covered Baker since twenty thirteen. I mean my very first assignment as is our ESPN's big twelve college football reporter was Baker Mayfield verse Garrett Gilbert, Texas Tech process, and you actually covered LSU TCU the next night in Arlington, which was they had these two receivers by the name of Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham. It's kind of come full circle. It is interesting. So I'm very used to Baker in the way he talks. I mean he yesterday he's, he's bussing same etlinger the Kodak at Texas State. He doesn't like him. I mean this is just Baker beat himself and having fun. And I don't know that he's quite done that yet in Cleveland until recently. You saw it a little bit last year with you. But you he comes in. He's not really given a chance to win the starting job. He's a rookie and I think that he's we're starting to see Baker again who he really is. And it's just stuff that he's going to speak, his mind. He's going to be candid and. That never affected the locker room at Oklahoma. I mean those guys loved him and they went to the playoff two out of three years. That's just his style. And I think is like oh del Jarvis. I think they they are really going to be drawn to that and really have so far. So. I don't think it's it's going to be ultimately big deal. And if it becomes a big deal, they'll just have to trade him for a death round pick or whatever and make do but you know to me right now just in the off season. These things seem like a bigger deal than they may be really are. And there's something that lingers in the training camp. I think it's something they'll address them in terms of Freddie catch him except finish here in terms of this season. If the Browns don't get to the point, we're expecting if they don't get to that nine seven record, if they stacked in, if there's seven and nine seven eight one again, if the take a step backwards in their six and ten or five and eleven do you think they're that Freddie kitchens is going to be the one who takes the blame for that is something where you could see them, theoretically, at least considering making a move after one season, which they've done under this ownership grouping in years past. Or do you think it's sort of turned over a new leave? And they're. Going to be patient with Freddie kitchens. Even if it doesn't go as well as maybe we're expecting at this point of the off season. What he given the track record of the ownership, you would think that I mean, if they go five and eleven Bill and it's a mass on the I could see them making a move couldn't you? I, I don't think his job is safe. No matter what now you know, if it's eight they just missed the playoffs. I think that's a different conversation and they'll have to evaluate it based on, on how they think the season went. But I mean if they go five and eleven that's that's a, that's a disaster for this team. And I think they definitely would have to evaluate the situation. Now, I don't think you are predicting that's going to happen. But if it did then then with a rookie head coach, they're going to have to say, okay, where did things go wrong, and where can we right the ship because they're not going to get rid of Baker and Odell? You know, those the players are going to be the players, you know, if there's an adjustment, that's gonna come. It's gonna it's gonna be the coaching staff level. Absolutely. Well Jake, I think a lot more brand stuff to come during the season. What have you back on during the year to chat about that? But if people want to check out your Browns coverage work, and they do that they can check it out on ESPN dot com. The NFL page, the Brown stage on ESPN and then, and then obviously, you can find me on Twitter, Jake underscored Trotter. I've got a lot of new Cleveland followers in the left. Month or so. And it had some great restaurants, Jessen. So keep those coming the only place I've been to in Cleveland that I can recommend the, the Michael Simon barbecue restaurant, which was awesome. Okay. And that's that's been on that's on my list. So now that you've brought it up definitely gonna hit it up and now barbecue in Cleveland is I mean, you know, I'm, I'm from the south west, I lived in Austin, so I'm tad bit skepticism know like with the Browns this season far Cleveland is a little bit of skepticism, but I'm definitely going to give it a shot so about it, too. Yeah, you gotta leave. It's belief lately. That's true. I didn't even occur to me, but that is really pointing, thanks so much. Okay. Thanks bill. We're gonna come back next week. Get away a little bit from the Texans Browns, maybe some other elements of the NFL. So a lot of stuff happening during the quiet time and more NFL coverage, like I said along the way, so thanks so much for listening. Thanks for sticking with us during that three pages. And I was on vacation back with weekly coverage of the NFL and often sports here on the Bill.

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