How Kevin Stefanski chooses to play starters in preseason will be a revelation. There were no preseason games in 2020. (Cleveland Browns)
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Editor's note: Tony Grossi is a Cleveland Browns analyst for TheLandOnDemand.com and 850 ESPN Cleveland.
Hey Tony: If you were coaching, how would you play the starters throughout the three preseason games?
-- Greg, Mayfield Village, OH
Hey Greg: I would do something radical – play the starters in each of the three games. One quarter in the first game, into the second quarter in the second game, one half in the third game. There are two weeks after the third preseason game until the first regular season game. I’m sure that’s enough time for bodies to recover from such a grueling preseason (sarcasm).
Hey Tony: How do you see TE usage this year? 1)Hooper, 2) Bryant, 3)Njoku?
-- Stewart, Edmonton, Canada
Hey Stewart: Last year’s snap counts broke down this way: Hooper, 684 (64.5 percent); Bryant, 590 (59.6 percent), Njoku, 410 (38.6 percent); Stephen Carlson, 87 (8.2 percent). Njoku came on strong in the last month and may get more snaps than Bryant this year, but I’d expect Hooper to lead the way.
Hey Tony: What percentage chance does Alex Van Pelt have to take over the play-calling responsibilities this season?
-- Dan, Charlotte, NC
Hey Dan: I think it’s possible, but I have no idea of the percentage. Certainly, AVP’s lone game as offensive play-caller – the wild card game in Pittsburgh – was a smashing success. But I think Kevin Stefanski enjoyed calling the plays and he proved capable of multi-tasking as head coach. I’d expect Van Pelt to get a couple chances of calling games in preseason. We’ll know more about the real season after the preseason games are done.
Hey Tony: Last year, the Browns had a 41-14 lead on Dallas, 35-7, to Tennessee, and 28-17 to Indy. Even a 35 - 7 lead in Pittsburgh in the playoffs. What explains our inability to score further, despite our woeful defense?
-- Mark, Northfield, OH
Hey Mark: At some point, it becomes more prudent to grind the clock on the ground rather than throw repeatedly for the end zone. Optimally, they’d hammer Chubb and Hunt and chew up the game clock, first down by first down. If the defense stacks the box, knowing what’s coming, an occasional pass downfield would be fine. You just don’t want to turn the ball over. Winning, 49-38, over the Cowboys; 41-35, over Tennessee; and 32-23, over the Colts, is OK with me. Same with winning, 48-37, over the Steelers. Good lord, they were 12-6. Do they have to win 12 games by 30 points?
Hey Tony: When’s first official day of minicamp?
-- Dan, Painesville, OH
Hey Dan: Minicamp runs from Tuesday through Thursday of next week. Then it’s summer recess.
Hey Tony: Do you think Baker [Mayfield] will beat the single season TD and passing yards records this year?
-- Scott, Findlay, OH
Hey Scott: I’m assuming you mean Browns records. The Browns record for passing yards in a season is 4,132 by Brian Sipe in 1980. He also holds the TD record of 30 in the same season. Sipe won the NFL MVP award that year. Mayfield has come close to both already – 3,827 in 2019, and 27 in 2018. So he could easily break both records with a good year in 2021.
Hey Tony: Any updates on if Nick Chubb will get an extension before or after the season?
-- Morris, Columbus, OH
Hey Morris: No update. I expect the team and agents for Chubb and Baker Mayfield to engage in talks after minicamp. I expect that once Mayfield’s new contract is completed, sometime before preseason, Chubb will be next. Until further notice, that is my story.
Hey Tony: What’s your favorite movie? Throw the audience a curve ball.
-- Nick, San Diego, CA
Hey Nick: I'd have to separate them by genres. Sports: Miracle. Old-time musical: Sound of Music. Frank Capra Classic: Hole in the Head. Profession: The Paper. Comedy: Dumb and Dumber. Soundtrack: (tie) Urban Cowboy and Blues Brothers. Holiday: White Christmas. Hitchcockian: Rear Window. Out of left field: Devil Wears Prada.