Mailbag: Cleveland could make a run for the AFC North title


So, Alex Mack remains a Brown! That’s great for now, but has any damage been done to the Mack/Cleveland relationship?

-Kevin in Cleveland

I honestly don’t think that there are any hostile feelings when it comes to Alex Mack and the Cleveland Browns, and I think that he’s genuinely OK with being back in Cleveland. If relations between him and the team had been damaged to such a high degree, he would’ve done much more to get a contract offer that the Browns could not match.  In the end, he signed a five-year, $42 million offer sheet with the Jaguars, and the Browns instantly matched it. Therefore, despite any claims that Mack’s agent and the Jags were trying to construct an offer sheet that would’ve been difficult for the Browns to match, there obviously wasn’t that great of an effort made. I just think people are trying to make a lot out of nothing. If there was really a tangible amount of damage done to the relationship between Mack and the Browns, I don’t think he’d be back in the orange and brown next season.


Who is Chris Pressley? Do the Browns need a fullback? That seems like a useless position.

-Tommy in Dayton

Pressley is a fifth year fullback that has played most of his career with the neighbors down south, the Cincinnati Bengals.  He’s not an outstanding athlete and his numbers won’t jump off the charts, but he has an extraordinary work ethic and he’s received praise at all levels for his willingness to sacrifice his body for the greater good of the team. He has been a major part of the Bengals running game, especially the emergence of BenJarvus Green-Ellis over the past two seasons.  One of his specialties is blocking in third-and-short situations, like in 2012 when he helped Green-Ellis lead the league in third-and-1 rushing conversions (14-of-15). He will add a much-needed toughness to the Browns, especially in an AFC North division that is known for being rough and hard-nosed. Another interesting fact is that, according to Redskins players, the unheralded MVP on offense was the fullback, Darrel Young.  It was considered that many of new Browns’ offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s offensive schemes would not have been as successful without key blocks from the fullback position, so Pressley will be extremely useful there. Finally, Pressley did run zone-blocking schemes that Shanahan uses when he was in CIncy.


Call me crazy, but I think the Browns are going to win the AFC North this year. Hopes too high?

-Jacob in Boulder

No, I think the ceiling could be that high for the Browns in 2014. Despite finishing last in the division (again) in 2013, the team has a lot of talent, and is only missing a few pieces.  The defense is talent-laden and was extremely solid this past season. Under Ray Horton, the D finished ninth in the NFL in total defense.  In the offseason, the only large pieces that it lost were at safety with TJ Ward and inside linebacker with D’Qwell Jackson.  They were able to replace both players with little to no downgrade through the signings of Karlos Dansby and Donte Whitner.  Therefore, the defense should remain near the best in the league.  The offense was where most of the struggles came last season, but so far, the team has already made several improvements, and will probably make more in the upcoming draft. Adding a running back and bringing back Alex Mack were probably the two biggest moves. If the team adds an offensive guard, possibly a real second option at wideout, and a quarterback, they have the capability to be extremely efficient on offense. If they can then put both aspects together, they have the opportunity to make a run at the AFC North title.