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Texans vs. Browns: Getting to Know the Enemy With Battle Red Blog

Brett Kollmann from Battle Red Blog exchanged five questions with us, discussing Ryan Mallett as the team's next starting quarterback, what fans think of Ben Tate, the roll that Jadeveon Clowney will play this week, and more.

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

This Sunday, the Cleveland Browns take on the Houston Texans. To help preview this week's game, I reached out to Brett Kollmann from Battle Red Blog and exchanged five questions with him. Enjoy!


Chris: "Ryan Fitzpatrick didn't appear to be having a terrible season, but the Texans are rolling the dice and starting Ryan Mallett at quarterback this week. Considering Mallett has never started in the NFL and didn't even spend training camp with the Texans, how does the fan base feel about this decision?"

Brett: "Texans fans are best described as cautiously optimistic. I am personally very, VERY high on Ryan Mallett as the future quarterback of this team, but there are definitely some valid concerns as well. A lot of fans would point out Mallett's tendency to treat every pass as a fastball, his poor completion percentages going back to his college career, and the fact that he is about as immobile a quarterback as they come.

However, for every potentially negative attribute Mallett possesses, he has flashed many more positives. In terms of football IQ and pure arm strength, Mallett has demonstrated in the past that he is capable of being a special player. Everyone knew from day one that Ryan Fitzpatrick's ceiling was as a marginally effective passer at best. Mallett's potential is through the roof, and at this point in the season it would almost make less sense not to start him. "

Chris: "J.J. Watt is obviously having a defensive MVP type of season, but first-round pick Jadeveon Clowney has barely seen the field. Is Clowney expected to play this week, and if so, what type of playing time and role will he have?"

Brett: "All signs are pointing to Clowney making his second return from injury against the Browns. After sustaining a knee injury in the first half of his first game, Clowney had to sit out all the way until week eight against the Titans, where he played on a limited snap count as a situational pass rusher. He then sat out the next week against the Eagles with the flu and/or some unknown setback with his knee, but Bill O'Brien has said that there is a good chance that everything is now finally behind him and he can get back to being awesome. Considering that Clowney actually looked better than advertised in his limited preseason action (believe it or not), this defense could sure use his presence right now. "

Chris: "How would you rate the play of the Texans' secondary this year? Who steps up in the absence of starting cornerback Kareem Jackson?"

Brett: "The secondary has been shaky at best this season. Johnathan Joseph is constantly banged up, D.J. Swearinger has blown several assignments, and Kendrick Lewis is still just Kendrick Lewis. Jackson has been the only consistently good member of the secondary, and even then he has still had his own bad moments (cough cough Victor Cruz cough cough). In Jackson's absence, the team will look to a collection of very young but promising corners on the team including A.J. Bouye, Andre Hal, and Darryl Morris. Whether any of them will be able to keep up with Andrew Hawkins (probably not) is another story, but based on past play from all of them I have some confidence in their potential success. "

Chris: "Ben Tate gets to face his former team this week. Obviously, Texans fans will want to stop Tate this week, but does the fan base still have a soft spot in wanting to see him succeed with another team? And, if you could pick right now, who would you take as Arian Foster's backup: Tate or Alfred Blue?"

Brett: "I loved Ben Tate during his time in Houston. In terms of toughness, competitiveness, and work ethic, Tate was everything you could ever want in a running back. On a 2-14 team that could not get out of its own way, it seemed like Ben Tate and J.J. Watt were the only players that even gave a damn. He played his heart out every game down here, and for that I will always root for his success.

In terms of pure talent he was of course a better back than Alfred Blue, but Tate's propensity for injury (which has continued in Cleveland) causes me to lean towards Blue when trying to choose between the two. Hell, if Tate never broke his ankle in his rookie year, Arian Foster might never have even seen the field. How's that for a twist of fate?"

Chris: "Who is the Texans' best offensive lineman, and which offensive lineman has struggled the most this season?"

Brett: "Duane Brown is still our best offensive lineman, even if he has had his moments of weakness in the last two years. Once arguably the best overall left tackle in the game, Brown is now considered to be "solidly top 5" at the position by many including myself. Chris Myers was very up and down during the first month of the season, but he has now settled back in to being his old terrific self at center. Brandon Brooks is our mauling right guard that loves to eat 3-techniques for breakfast in the run game, and Derek Newton is our shockingly improved right tackle that has turned from constant liability to somewhat decent starter.

The biggest weakness on the line then is obviously left guard, where both Ben Jones and second round pick Xavier Su'a-Filo have had their fair share of struggles. Jones is not a particularly awful player, but his averageness stands out when standing between two All-Pro caliber linemen. Attacking him early and often is a good bet for success. Eventually someone will get through. "


Thanks again to Brett for taking the time to answer my questions.