clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Behind Enemy Lines: How the Browns will try to duplicate the Ravens' blueprint for victory vs. the Steelers

Heading into the regular season finale against the Cleveland Browns, I sat down with Chris Pokorny of Dawgs by Nature to talk about the upcoming game from the other side of the fence.

Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Leading up to the Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cleveland Browns Week 17 game, I was fortunate enough to sit down with Chris Pokorny, editor of Dawgs by Nature (SB Nation's Browns website), to discuss the finer details of this matchup, from the other side of the fence.

Take a look at the interview below, and be sure to check out Dawgs by Nature for the best coverage of the game Sunday, from the Cleveland perspective.

The Cleveland Browns are a team who has yet to find a franchise quarterback since returning to the NFL. What is your prediction for the team's handling of Johnny Manziel when the season officially ends?

I think Manziel has shown a lot of heart and progress with his on-field play, enough to where the franchise would be taking a step backwards if they were to invest in another quarterback. Whether or not the Browns have a new coaching staff, the next step for Manziel should be to let him be the top guy during the whole offseason, through training camp, and then leading up to opening day. There are rumors that somebody like Jerry Jones might be interested in acquiring Manziel via a trade, and I pray that doesn't happen. Good or bad, Cleveland has already waited two years to get a firm evaluation on Manziel, and it would be idiotic to waste all that time developing him only to ship him away for practically nothing.

The Browns can put an official end to any hopes the Steelers have of making the playoffs. Is this team determined to end the season on a high note, or have they already thrown in the towel?

In terms of effort, they haven't thrown in the towel. In terms of simply being out-matched, there are times when it feels like the towel has been thrown in when you look at the scoreboard. From a fan's perspective, the thought of preventing the Steelers from making the playoffs is always something that can cheer people up, but I don't think people are considering it, given the fact that the team is on their third-string quarterback, depleted at cornerback, and was torched by the "backup" version of Ben Roethlisberger the last time these two teams squared off. Fans have generally accepted the belief that we're going to have a Top-2 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.

Is the Browns' fan base standing behind the organization keeping Mike Pettine as head coach, or are they ready to start over with a new head man?

In a small sample-size poll on our site, 70% of fans are on board with keeping Mike Pettine as their head coach in 2016, which is an incredible amount of support given the fact that the team has lost 17 out of their past 20 games, dating back to last season. I don't think it is an endorsement to Pettine, but rather fans hoping that "staying the course" will do more good than harm -- allow the offensive and defensive systems to settle in for more than just one year. If Pettine stays, though, fans do want defensive coordinator Jim O'Neil to be headed out the door.

The Steelers get into the playoffs with a win and a Bills victory over the Jets. What is the Browns' best chance to pull off the home upset in Week 17?

Cleveland's best chance would be stay committed to the running game, and then hoping that our safeties do a better job taking away the deep ball from Ben Roethlisberger. If the Browns have success on the ground via a long drive, perhaps Roethlisberger will press a bit, knowing the playoffs are on the line, but won't be able to find the same success he did the last time he faced Cleveland. That is wishful thinking, particularly on the defensive side of things. On offense, the running game has turned in their most respectable performances of the season in two of their past three games, thanks to offensive coordinator John DeFilippo finally changing the run blocking strategy on offense (for most of the year, he tried continuing Kyle Shanahan's zone-blocking scheme from 2014).

How do you predict the Week 17 matchup unfolding for the Browns and Steelers?

If the previous question was what would happen in a fantasy world, then this question addresses what would happen in reality. Our cornerbacks are going to be severely out-matched, and I see the Steelers' talented receivers just burning and out-classing our cornerbacks early and often. Unless Roethlisberger's accuracy is way off on his deep ball throughout the game, Cleveland won't stand much of a chance.