It's been a little while since we did the traditional five questions, but I'm glad to have them back.
This week, I exchanged inquiries with Chris Pokorny of Dawgs By Nature, our network's well-written and somehow still cheerful Cleveland Browns blog. I tried to mine the depths of the psyche of Browns fans and discover their weaknesses, which I could then send to Mike Smith on the wings of carrier pigeons.
Unfortunately, I made all that up, but I did ask some questions. Head over the jump to see what they were.
Chris Pokorny: I think every Browns opponent has asked me this question so far, but this time I get to give an additional advantage to one of the players. Although I commend the job that Seneca Wallace did during his time as the starter, I still believe Jake Delhomme gives the Browns the better chance of winning. Here are a few disadvantages that Wallace has: (1) he never audibles at the line of scrimmage, which forces him to burn timeouts early in a half or see a running play get stuff; (2) he throws a horrible deep ball down the sideline; (3) he isn't very quick in getting off his first two reads to see other potential players who may be open.
In all of these areas, I think Delhomme is an upgrade, particularly with the deep ball which can work to our benefit off of playaction since the Browns have a successful running attack. Wallace has better mobility than Delhomme, but I think the other aspects outweigh that advantage. Delhomme's "additional advantage" that I originally mentioned is that he has some experience facing Atlanta's defense.
DC: I've being hearing a lot of confident predictions about what Peyton Hillis will do to our defense, which is improved against the run. Tell me a little about what Hillis brings to the table.
CP: Hillis brings a hard style of running to the table. If Falcons fans saw highlights of the Baltimore Ravens game a few weeks ago, then they should know just how hard it is to take the bruising back down. Our offensive line has created some very nice holes for him, but then there are other times where the defense penetrates and touches Hillis at the line. Just when we think the play will go for no gain, Hillis pushes forward to still gain two or three yards. For a Browns offense that doesn't have a terrific passing game, those types of runs make it easier to move the chains on second- or third-down. It also wears down a defense -- last week, safety Roy Williams and cornerback Jonathan Joseph had to leave in the middle of the game because Hillis bowled into them hard.
DC: Your defense is a great unknown to me in a lot of ways. Fill me in on players to watch and guys who Matt Ryan, Michael Turner & Co. may want to watch out for come gametime.
CP: T.J. Ward made a lot of headlines over the past week due to his hit on Bengals wide receiver Jordan Shipley, so I'm sure Atlanta fans know of him. However, it's important to note that this rookie isn't purely a "head-hunter" or something. Instead, he can be defined as the best tackler on the team. He can come out of no where at full speed and bring down a receiver immediately in the open field. At outside linebacker, two players stand out -- Matt Roth and Marcus Benard. Roth uses a sick bull rush to get pressure and is usually responsible for covering the tight ends. Benard uses his speed to generate a pass rush.
Finally, at nose tackle we have a young guy named Ahtyba Rubin. He has been a major reason the Browns have contained running backs fairly well, and he also has a habit for staying with a play and trying to use a chop to strip the football from a wide receiver who catches a short pass over the middle. Shaun Rogers is also on the team, but he's probably the most "known" player on the Browns.
DC: The Browns have a ridiculous 10-2 record against the Falcons all-time. Any thoughts on the historic dominance?
CP: Since these teams are in different conferences, I don't think the history matters too much, and I don't factor it much into my projected outcome for this week's game. With that said, I do remember the Browns' most recent two wins against Atlanta. One of those wins was in the final week of the season, allowing the Browns to reach the postseason for the only time since the franchise returned to the league. The other one came in a game where we had a linebacker named Leon Williams spying on Michael Vick the whole game, and somehow it worked, with Vick having a crucial fumble to end the game. A lot has changed since then, but it'd be nice for the Browns to move to 11-2!
DC: Final prediction for the score and the Browns' record at the end of the season?
CP: I don't have a final score predicted yet, but as of this posting I think I'm picking the Falcons to win a close game. While I'm optimistic about the Browns, the Falcons are a much-more together team offensively and defensively than the Bengals are, and they had a huge win over the New Orleans Saints a couple of weeks ago. I think the Browns will end up finishing with a 7-9 record, which wouldn't be terrible considering an 0-3 start. The Browns have a rough patch of games coming up, but they close out the season with a lot of very winnable games.
Thanks to Chris for answering my questions. In return, I hope we don't kill Jake Delhomme outright.