Editor's note: Tony Grossi is a Cleveland Browns analyst for TheLandOnDemand.com and 850 ESPN Cleveland.
Takeaways from Browns practice and interviews …
1. No guarantees: All week the Browns have bowed and genuflected at the altar of Bill Belichick, praising him and Tom Brady for their career achievements. It sounded as if they were awed by the honor of sharing the same field with the two GOATs.
That’s why it was refreshing to hear Jarvis Landry’s take on Sunday’s game in Foxborough, MA.
And that’s why it was also sad to see Landry’s comments explode on the football social media circuit as a “guarantee” that the 13-point underdog Browns would win.
The first bulletin board quote came in the context of a question about his sense for how the Browns will respond to the rest of the season coming off their bye week.
“Well, we’re going to win,” Landry said. “We’re going to win. It’s just that simple. Getting guys back healthy again. We’re going to win.”
Later in Landry’s interview session, he was asked about the challenge of visiting an intimidating venue such as Gillette Stadium, where the Patriots under Belichick and Brady since 2002 are 118-21.
Landry responded: “It’s the same thing. The mission don’t change. The mission don’t change. We’re going to win the game, you know?”
After social media took this as a “guarantee” to win, Landry was approached and asked, “Is that what you meant?” (The fact is, no reporters really interpreted his remarks as such and that’s why nobody asked immediately after he said it.)
Landry then clarified and said maybe he should have said “We’re going THERE to win the game.”
Here’s a rule of thumb: Joe Namath famous guarantee included the words, “I guarantee it.” Absent the word guarantee, it’s not a guarantee.
2. Good for him: Fact is, Landry is the only Browns player this week not to cower to the Patriots’ aura.
Some other nuggets from him:
Right from the start, he lamented the Browns making mistakes and beating themselves way too often. He was asked if it’s harder to avoid mistakes against a team noted for never beating itself.
“Nothing is perfect,” Landry said. “I’m sure those guys over there make mistakes, as well. They’re not a perfect bunch or a perfect group. But at the end of the day, they make more plays than they make mistakes. As long as we protect the ball, don’t hurt ourselves, we have a good chance of winning.”
Landry was asked about the Patriots’ league-leading 18 interceptions.
He responded, “I think they’re very experienced, a lot of older guys that have played together a long time. That makes their secondary unique. We got to figure a way to make contested catches. They hold, they grab, they’re real scrappy. And it seems not to get called. We understand that and we got to make plays through [it].”
Finally, Landry was asked about Belichick’s famous strategy of using his shutdown corner on a team’s No. 2 receiver and doubling the No. 1 receiver with his second and third corners.
“I’m ready for whatever,” Landry said. “I know all of us are, as far as just finding ways to make plays. It’s gonna be a tough matchup, but these are the games we live for, these are the games we’re here for. Big time players got to make plays. Those guys are gonna challenge us and we’re not going to stand back and just take it. We’re going to challenge them as well.”
3. Long-term help: Rookie guard Drew Forbes returned to practice for the first time since going on injured reserve with a knee injury on Sept. 2 and was designated for return by the club. He is eligible to come off IR for the ninth game against Buffalo.
Forbes made 35 starts at left tackle beginning his sophomore year at Southeast Missouri State. Most draft experts projected him as a guard, and that is where he lined up in training camp. Sounds like his immediate future is there, as well.
“Yes, right now,” coach Freddie Kitchens said. “But we always try to build versatility. He does have some tackle ability and some center ability. He’s a hard worker, relentless in how he plays and those are two good attributes.”
Each team is permitted two IR return designations. The Browns are saving their second one for tight end David Njoku, who is still wearing a case on his wrist broken in the Jets game on Sept. 16.
4. M.I.A.: Linebacker Genard Avery has been virtually invisible in his second season after playing in every game as a rookie – starting five – and recording 4.5 sacks.
In coordinator Steve Wilks’ scheme, Avery has been inactive for only the Rams game over the first six weeks. His season scorecard: one tackle.
“It is not so much [not fitting his scheme],” coordinator Steve Wilks said. “I know there is a lot of speculation out there … “
Wilks went on to say Avery keeps getting edged out on the game day roster of 46 by players who contribute more to special teams.
“I think Genard brings a great skillset,” Wilks said. “I think he has tremendous speed off the edge. I think he has the ability to get to the quarterback and affect the game in a positive way. We will see exactly what happens this week and who is up. I am sure if he is, he will make a major impact on the game.”
5. Brownie bits: Kitchens was asked if he has firmed up his plans for the starting offensive line. “As we speak right now? Yeah, I think so,” he said, declining to announce an expected realignment. The best guess is that Justin McCray will line up at left tackle and Wyatt Teller at right guard, with the other positions remaining the same …
Safety Damarious Randall (hamstring) did not participate again, meaning he’s a likely scratch on Sunday. Possible replacement would be Jermaine Whitehead, with Eric Murray probably moving into Whitehead’s spot as the fifth defensive back.