Part one of this week's mailbag session can be found here. In part two of our mailbag session, we look at Mike Holmgren's original benchmark for the team's win total in 2012, some history involving Kellen Winslow Jr. and Art Modell, how many tight ends and fullbacks the team will keep, and why we think the Browns will always get better.
Drew: "Will the Browns keep four tight ends and two fullbacks on the 53-man roster? Could Ben Watson or Alex Smith be the odd man out?"
Chris: "Cleveland kept four tight ends and one fullback all of last season. I don't want to say 'no way,' because even though it was under a different regime, we saw the Browns do it back in 2008 when they kept fullbacks Charles Ali and Lawrence Vickers, and tight ends Kellen Winslow, Steve Heiden, Darnell Dinkins, and Martin Rucker. The Browns only kept five wide receivers and three running backs in 2008.
Pat Shurmur kept six wide receivers last year and will likely do the same this year. It wouldn't be a surprise if four running backs stuck around too. Because of the additions at those two positions, I can only see five players from the fullback and tight end positions making the team. Brad Smelley is an attractive option because he could be a tweener. In that case, Alex Smith might be the odd man out with Watson being safe."
Grillguy: "How do you think this year will go for the Browns? I see this team as being way too inexperienced in the offensive skill positions so I really expect a mistake-riddled first couple of months. Hopefully after the growing pains get out of the way they will begin to gel, but I really can't see more then 4 or 5 wins this year."
Chris: "I don't like predicting wins for the Browns because I have a terrible track record at it. Here's what I think: we witnessed probably one of the most pathetic offensive displays you can imagine in 2011. Yes, this club is inexperienced on offense, but they also have a lot more talent than they did a year ago. Growing pains aren't a guarantee. We saw how quick Andy Dalton and A.J. Green were able to turn the Bengals around last season. Why can't Cleveland have the same type of success from the get-go?"
Jeff: "Whatever happened to those agents who represented KWII and held him out of training camp? How might KWII's career been different if he hadn't held out?"
Chris: "Winslow's 12-day holdout was in partnership with Carl and Kevin Poston, otherwise known as the Poston brothers. After Carl reportedly screwed over linebacker LaVar Arrington in 2006 by not reading his client's contract (which was supposed to include a signing bonus), he was suspended by the NFLPA for two years. I don't know this for sure, but I'd speculate that he's no longer in the business. Not including the butterfly effect, the holdout made no difference with Winslow's career -- a fluke leg injury on a special teams play during his rookie year, and his motorcycle accident the following year, were the beginning of his demise. He's still a good tight end in the NFL, just not an elite one."
WheeltownBrownz: "When Holmgren said 6 wins would not be acceptable this year, what do you think the ramifications of winning under could be?"
Chris: "Randy Lerner brought Holmgren in for the long haul, and I don't think wins will be a benchmark for whether he stays or go -- he'll be here until the ship officially turns around. Now, if the team, for whatever reason, looked like a joke and we saw players quitting left and right, then maybe it'd be a different story. I don't see that happening."
Swecker: "Why do people keep thinking the Browns will get better?"
Chris: "We're optimists. With the exception of defensive tackle, (Phil Taylor's injury) the Browns have improved or remained the same across the board. Every team will break out of its funk at some point, and when the Browns' time comes, fans want to make sure they aren't just hopping on the bandwagon."
Josh: "I was involved in a rather passionate debate last night with a few non-Browns fans here in NYC who believe that we need to stop vilifying Art Modell. Their argument was that instead of harping on what happened in the mid-nineties we should focus our ire on the Lerner's ineptitude. Can Art Modell ever fade into oblivion?"
Chris: "I don't expect many outsiders to understand what Cleveland fans have been through. The ire that fans could potentially have for Lerner will never reach anything close to the same magnitude of the ire that fans have for Modell. With Modell, you're talking about a guy who threatened the legacy of the Browns among so many other things. With Lerner, maybe you're just frustrated that the team hasn't been winning. Considering the big bucks Lerner has spent on coaches, general managers, team presidents, etc. to try to give the team a winning culture, I can't hate the guy. Modell will eventually fade to oblivion, but it'll probably be decades from now when the newer generations of Browns fans are more focused on the multiple Lombardi trophies the team has collected."