Swag's Bag

Introducing the TheOBR’s often imitated, probably duplicated and quite snarky mailbag.

Plenty of websites are not above trotting out the trite post known as a “mailbag.” Typically — well, most notably Lane Adkins — is above these sorts of hacky tactics.

Myself on the other hand? Sorry for your luck.

That said, welcome to the Swag Bag, where fans send in questions about the Cleveland Browns. Please remember there are no bad questions (OK, maybe a few) and no topic is taboo.

Why is it called “Swag Bag?” I point you toward our first question.

Q: Did the Browns just really introduce a new mascot with the name Swagger? Is this real life?

Yup. That just happened. I can’t take credit for this line, but someone tweeted the best snarky response to this … let’s call it a marketing “glitch?”

“He looks sad. He gets us.”

Yes, yes he does. As dumb of an idea it is to have this real-life dog roaming the sidelines (see: the University of Georgia football team’s Uga), nothing and I mean NOTHING will repeat the marketing fail from November of 2012.

Remember that was the year the Browns announced their giveway for the upcoming home game would be flags, complete with the team’s helmet logo on each side.

There were a few problems. The flag was white and EVERYBODY knows white flags are used to symbolize surrender. To add to the embarrassment, the game was against the Pittsburgh Steelers, who entered that game winning 16 of their last 17 games against the Browns.

It was an epic fail of grand proportions. By comparison it makes Swagger seem, well, OK.

Q: If and when Josh Gordon gets his expected year-long suspension, who is the Browns’ No. 1 wide receiver?

Miles Austin, please pick up the orange and brown courtesy phone. Miles Austin to the courtesy phone.

Wait, those have gone the way of phone booths, right? My God, I’m old.

Anyway, I’m trying to say that it sure would be nice if Austin could overcome his hamstring issues and re-capture the Pro Bowl seasons of 2009 and 2010 form where he caught 150 balls for 2,361 and 18 touchdowns. Then, after playing in only 10 games in 2011, he caught 66 balls for 943 yards and six touchdowns in 2012.

Even if Austin comes close to those numbers, is it good enough to be No. 1? He’ll be fighting it out with the likes of Earl Bennett, Travis Benjamin, Nate Burelson, Andrew Hawkins and Charles Johnson.


Hawkins and tight end Jordan Cameron will most likely be the top two targets in the Browns’ passing game. If it is one thing we know it is having that top-tier wide receiver is, to quote Peter Griffin, “Freakin’ Sweet.” But having one doesn’t guarantee wins. See: Browns, The 2013.

Q: Will Johnny Manziel approach Derek Jeter when it comes to off-the-field “accomplishments?”

There is plenty of time to worry about what Johnny does on the field. For now, his off-the-field conquests may worry some, but are awesome for others. Last week, Derek Jeter was in Cleveland for the final time, as the Yankees shortstop will retire at the end of the season.

Yes, this is a football site, but this is an interesting question.

Generally, those of us who are staring middle-age in the face and on a daily basis deal with boring things like paying mortgage payments on time, trying to remember when exactly is trash day and attempting to teach a 2-year-old to crap on a potty. So, we’re living vicariously through Johnny.

On July 9, Johnny was spotted at Fenway Park with Colleen Crowley. I Googled her (when my wife wasn’t around). She’s apparently Ms. Football Right Now and — breaking news — she’s pretty.

Ol’ Johnny Football has been photographed with some lookers, but they don’t come close to approaching the modern-day Murder’s Row of Jeter’s lineup.

My goodness, have you seen the all-star team Jeter has put together in his career? Jessica Alba, Jessica Biel, Tyra Banks, Mariah Carey, Hannah Davis, Scarlett Johansson, Minka Kelly, Adrianna Lima and Vanessa Minnillo.

I don’t think Johnny will ever approach that stout rundown, although his attempt, unlike Jeter’s, will leave a welcomed trail of Instagram photos.

God speed, Johnny.

Uh oh, I’ve taken too long with this question. There’s going to be a bathroom somewhere in my house covered in poop.

Q: How legit is this Browns’ defense?

It hinges on three things: Justin Gilbert, the health of defensive line and Mike Pettine.

If Justin Gilbert is the anti-Leon McFadden it allows the Browns defense to do so many good things. Think about it. Two lock-down corners free up your safeties and linebackers and gives pass rushers a few more seconds to get to the quarterback.

Phil Taylor, Ahtyaba Rubin and Demsond Bryant all were banged up on the defensive line in 2013, but this is one of the team’s more talent-rich position groups along with Billy Winn, John Hughes and Ishmaa’ily Kitchen, who all contributed last season filling in for the injured starters.

Finally, Pettine earned his professional coaching chops along side Rex Ryan during the latter’s tenure as a defensive coordinator in Baltimore and head coach with the New York Jets.

Pettine and defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil have used schemes in the past to successfully confuse opposing quarterbacks. From Greg Bedard’s piece on Petting in MMQB:

“Every pre-snap look is different from the ensuing coverage and pressure on the play. That messes with the best quarterbacks, who are elite because they win before the snap deciphering the defensive scheme they are about to encounter.”

I’m not saying Andy Dalton, Joe Flacco and especially Ben Roethlisberger are MENSA candidates, but if Bedard’s take on the Pettine defense rings true, I welcome a Browns defense messing with an opposing quarterback’s head. Too often has those three quarterbacks beaten up on Browns defenses.

If the young talent gets it and the veteran talent remains relatively healthy, this just might be a legit defense throughout the entire season, instead of showing flashes of brilliance like in years’ past.

Q: With LeBron coming back, will Cleveland and northeast Ohio now be considered a basketball town instead of a football town?



To send in your questions to the Swag Bag, email Don at ddelco@gmail.com or hit him up on Twitter @DonDelcoOBR. If you are a hipster and want to actually write a letter and send it into the Swag Bag, too bad. Use these here Interwebs and send an email or tweet at me like a normal, functioning person in today’s society.

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