Hey Tony: It seems there is a renewed effort to get Art Modell in the HOF. He obviously should not be, but do you see this succeeding?
-- Christopher, Red Bluff, CA
Hey Christopher: Modell’s proponents see the HOF Centennial Class as an opportunity to get him inducted. This special class created by the Hall’s Board of Trustees is part of the NFL’s 100th anniversary in 2020. It will consist of 10 players whose modern eligibility have expired, three contributors and two coaches. The HOF has written new rules of procedure for this class. A “blue ribbon panel” of 25 will select the 15 members of the Centennial Class; among them are Ozzie Newsome and Bill Belichick. What’s controversial about this is that the HOF board wants to suspend its normal rules of voting for this class. Instead of requiring a vote on each individual, the HOF wants the regular board of 48 selectors to vote on the blue ribbon panel’s class as a whole – essentially a rubber stamp approval. Many on the regular board of selectors believe this may be a way of subverting consistent rejections of controversial candidates such as Modell and former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue. Will it work? Stay tuned.
Hey Tony: How valuable is the early adversity for this team if they continue to improve and meet expectations?
-- Marcello, Weehawken, NJ
Hey Marcello: Very valuable. When Freddie Kitchens said he “welcomed” adversity in training camp, what he meant was he welcomed the opportunity to overcome it. Overcoming adversity strengthens a team and callouses it for future adversity through the long season and playoffs. So, Kitchens got his wish. The Browns faced adversity in the first quarter of season and overcame it to climb to first in the AFC North. Now there’s three quarters to go.
Hey Tony: Are the Browns holding our starting backfield on D for the Patriots game? Nothing else seems more logical then that!
-- Damian, Maumee, OH
Hey Damian: Doesn’t make sense. Why hold back rookie Greedy Williams voluntarily? That would just retard his growth. Fact: Players get injured over the course of a season. Fact: The Browns have a deep secondary. Nothing more to it than that.
Hey Tony: How many games does it take for a defense to start respecting other players on the offense and quit double-teaming Odell?
-- Greg, Xenia, OH
Hey Greg: They will never totally stop double-teaming Beckham. It’s incumbent on Baker Mayfield to make them pay for it, as he did in Baltimore. He must continue to spread the ball around and that will lessen the intensity of the double-teaming. Then Beckham will get his plays.
Hey Tony: Do we need an OL trade this season? Or can we wait for the draft? Won’t ever get this team at this price again.
-- Matt, Las Vegas, NV
Hey Matt: John Dorsey already has traded two draft picks (fifth- and sixth-rounders) for guard Wyatt Teller. If you’re looking for a starting tackle, I would say don’t hold your breath. None is available. The price tag for a quality tackle is exorbitant. Houston gave two firsts and a second to Miami for left tackle Laremy Tunsil. There were other picks and players involved, but you get the idea. Dorsey may troll for a backup-caliber tackle with a smaller price, a young one for OL coach James Campen to develop into a possible starter next year.
Hey Tony: The offensive line certainly looked better on Sunday with Baker getting rid of the ball quicker. Do you see the offensive line continuing to improve as the season goes along or will it remain a week to week concern?
-- Justin, North Royalton, OH
Hey Justin: When fully healthy, the O-line showed in Baltimore it can be more than adequate with help on occasion from a two-tight end alignment. My biggest concern is that one injury greatly reduces the overall quality.
Hey Tony: What would be the record you’d expect for the second quarter of the season?
-- Josh, Galena, OH
Hey Josh: The next four opponents: at San Francisco, home v. Seattle, at New England, at Denver. Wouldn’t you sign up right now for 2-2?
Hey Tony: Is it fair to say Freddie running such a physical camp is the cause for all these injuries early on?
-- Bobby, Westlake, OH
Hey Bobby: I doubt even the Harvard analytics department can find empirical proof of that.
Hey Tony: Love all the improvements across the board this year. However, why oh why can’t we figure out kickoff returns? Just take knee!
-- Steve, Columbus, OH
Hey Steve: All the rule changes in recent years have reduced kickoff returns in the name of player safety. Now, instead of blasting kickoffs out of the end zone and giving possession at the 25-yard line, teams are skying kickoffs short of the end zone and covering like mad. It’s harder than ever to block for returns. Eventually, the kickoff will be totally eliminated by the NFL, in my opinion.
Hey Tony: Would the Browns elect a new defensive captain with Kirko’s surgery news or have him lead from the sideline?
-- Brakey, Buffalo, NY
Hey Brakey: I’m not sure when Christian Kirksey will be back after pectoral surgery on Tuesday. When he’s able to return, I’m sure the Browns will utilize his leadership skills in some fashion.
Hey Tony: Do you think this offense misses Duke Johnson? Like, a lot?
-- G.L., Virginia Beach, VA
Hey G.L.: I think Duke is missed in the locker room by his teammates. He was a true pro and good teammate. I don’t think he’s missed as much on the field, to be honest.
Hey Tony: Is it my imagination or are there more injuries in the NFL this year in general and with the Browns in particular?
-- Peter, Chagrin Falls, OH
Hey Peter: I’m sure some Website is tracking injuries and will come up with some theory. I can say than in my 30-plus years of covering the NFL, every season seems riddled by injuries. The bigger the names, the bigger the perception. In truth, I doubt the numbers are out of the ordinary.
Hey Tony: What's your take on many in the national media building up the Browns to be Super Bowl contenders this offseason (Way over the top IMHO), and then seeming to be so anxious to tear them down after only a few games?
-- Rick, Edinboro, PA
Hey Rick: It’s the natural ebb and flow of a playoff contender’s season. Every game means so much, the highs are exhilarating and the lows are devastating. That’s why coaches and players strive to keep an even keel. Fans and media ride an emotional roller coaster. That’s the fun of this kind of season. If you can’t stomach the ride, get off.
Hey Tony: Have we seen the last of the shotgun offense for an entire game for this team?
-- Sean, Lakewood, OH
Hey Sean: Putting Mayfield under center on occasion is essential to expanding the running game and play-action passing. Todd Haley preached that and Kitchens followed that when he took over last year. I think Kitchens lost his way through the first three games and found it in Baltimore.