The Cincinnati Bengals will face off against the Cleveland Browns in part two of the Battle of Ohio. We sit down with Factory of Sadness’s Ryan Rosko for five questions with the enemy.
Stripe Hype: The Cleveland Browns are 0-12 this season and seemingly have no end in sight with Bengals, Bills, Chargers, and Steelers left. Is this their best opportunity to get into the win column or is there no hope in Cuyahoga County?
Ryan Rosko: There is hope, but unfortunately it is slim. Cleveland’s best chance is versus San Diego, but not far behind is Sunday’s game versus Cincinnati. I expect a winless 2016 season for the Browns. However, I still won’t rule out Cleveland somehow getting a win along the way.
Cleveland is destined for the first pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. Say they do win a game before the end of the season. As long as they don’t lose the top pick, a win this season would be a positive sign for the rebuilding Browns.
SH: This team is not without great players like Joe Thomas, Joe Haden, and Gary Barnidge. What has caused the Browns to fall this season, especially with a successful offensive coach like Hue Jackson?
RR: Part of it is their culture since coming back in 1999. Other factors fall solely on the roster. Cleveland has been through rebuilds before.
However, with the current regime, the Browns are fully behind a complete rebuild. Past regimes didn’t technically rebuild from scratch and that is one reason why Cleveland is now in the position they are in.
One factor that has severely limited any success is the glaring hole at quarterback. It is very hard to find that type of player.
On the other hand, the Browns need talent surrounding the quarterback and a good offensive line to protect him. One day Cleveland will have achieved those goals. That said, until they do, the poor product on the field will continue to be evident.
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SH: The Cleveland Browns have some young talent that are expected to grow into their talent. Are Cleveland fans happy with how Emmanuel Ogbah, Danny Shelton and Carl Nassib are developing?
RR: Cleveland fans are happy with all three. However, Ogbah has done more than Nassib and is a better player right now. Looking long-term, Ogbah should continue to progress the better of those two. Still, impactful players are not always evident in year one as rookies.
Speaking of rookies, Shelton struggled on a regular basis. Now in his second season, Shelton has change the perception of his what he can do for Cleveland.
He has made the necessary adjustments and should continue to be that solid (and possibly more) lineman Cleveland will need to rely on. As the progress is being made, a truly clear opinion should not be made until after three seasons for each player.
SH: The Bengals are still without A.J. Green. With Green still out and Haden still seemingly struggling this season, who do the Browns stick Haden on in order to stop the success the Bengals found in the passing game last week?
I have my reservations that Joe Haden will be able to to stop the Bengals’ success. However, since it is a divisional game, Haden should play up to the necessary level to have an impressive game.
With Green out, Haden’s focus should be rookie wideout Tyler Boyd. Brandon LaFell has also played well recently, but Boyd has plenty of potential and is a play-maker Cincinnati can look to confidently as their second starter opposite Green (when healthy). Should Haden start to struggle again, the possibility of Haden going up against multiple players should not be dismissed.
SH: What is your prediction for this weeks game?
RR: Cleveland will end up limiting running back Jeremy Hill on Sunday, something that did not happen in their first game. Even with the improvement, that will not be enough for Cleveland to end up with the win.
Quarterback Robert Griffin III is going to be under center for the first time since Week 1 and the Bengals’ defense is going to be chopping at the bits. Cincinnati will end up earning a close, low scoring win on the road 14-10.