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Mary Kay Cabot | Cleveland Browns Beat Writer, Cleveland.com

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The Truth Network Radio
November 17, 2023 5:57 am

Mary Kay Cabot | Cleveland Browns Beat Writer, Cleveland.com

Amy Lawrence Show / Amy Lawrence

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November 17, 2023 5:57 am

Browns Beat writer Mary Kay Cabot joins the show to talk about the news of Deshaun Watson out for the season, as well as where the Browns stand in the AFC North now.

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For all terms and limitations, visit FelixCatInsurance.com slash terms. We're pleased to welcome Mary Kay Cabot, one of our favorites from Cleveland.com and the plain dealer, longtime insider who covers the Browns. Well, let's begin with the injury news. Mary Kay, what's the mood around the team since Tuesday? What's the mood around the locker room right now?

Well, I'll tell you what. The team, you know, they are putting on that brave face and they are staying as positive as they possibly can. They have a unified message of, you know, we can get the job done. We are moving forward.

We still have all of our goals and hopes and dreams in front of us. You know, they're talking about the Eagles winning the Super Bowl in 2017 when Jim Schwartz was there with a backup quarterback. They're talking about Brock Purdy helping the 49ers to the NFC Championship game last year. So, you know, they are all putting their heads down and realizing that they have a championship defense and they feel like they can still get where they want to go. But there's certainly a lot of extra pressure on that defense. What have the guys on that side of the ball had to say about this new challenge?

Well, I talked to Obo Okoronkwo yesterday about this and he actually said, you know, I think we have the best defense of all time, not just this season, but of all time. So that's the kind of message that is coming out of this locker room. They are fired up still about what they have and they are not going to let this get them down.

Now, of course, it's going to be way, way easier said than done. The Browns face the Steelers on Sunday and, you know, they they have a tough road ahead of them, of course, with a rookie quarterback. But they are they are not letting anyone see them sweat right now. On the offensive side of the ball, who becomes the leader with a rookie quarterback who comes alongside him, whether it's in the huddle or whether it's on the sidelines to help him out as he faces situations that he's never seen before? Well, you know, remember that this is a football team that already lost its star running back in Nick Chubb for the season.

So this has just been, you know, almost a season of getting punched in the gut a little bit for the Cleveland Browns. But I would have to say that, you know, I think it will be Deshaun helping out DTR. They're good friends.

They were already good friends before DTR even showed up here on the doorstep in Cleveland. And I think that Deshaun is going to do everything that he can to be around him, to help him, to help him study, to prepare and to try to help him get this team to the playoffs. Dorian Thompson Robinson, for people who aren't familiar with him, Kevin Stavanski goes with the rookie who did get a start in the first month of the season. Why him over PJ Walker, who filled in most of the time when Deshaun was injured earlier in the year? Well, if you look at PJ's stat line, I mean, he's a gutsy player and he did the best he could, but he has one touchdown, five interceptions, one lost fumble, a 51.3 rating, I think it is. And I just think that they felt like they needed better production from that position. And they truly believe in their heart of hearts that DTR, when given a better opportunity to not get thrown in with two and a half hours notice, will do a better job than PJ will.

It remains to be seen, but that's what the organizational thinking is right now. What skill set, what abilities do you see in him? Have you seen in him since he joined the Browns?

Well, there are a lot of things to like about DTR. He throws a nice football. I mean, a lot of people don't realize that he does really have a very, very strong arm. So that's one thing I think you can look for some of those explosive downfield to Amari Cooper. You know, it just always seems like whenever they need that big play, the Cleveland Browns can look downfield, find Amari and they have their, you know, whatever, 40 yard pass, 50 yard pass. So I think that you will see him trying to make some of those explosives and then he's a dual threat quarterback like Deshaun. So, you know, he runs around and, you know, he improvises and he will try to make those off schedule plays just like Deshaun did, not at that level, like more of a mini Deshaun.

He's a gunslinger, though. He sometimes thinks that he can make a play that he can't. And I think we saw some of those things in that first game against the Baltimore Ravens that he played and lost that twenty eight three game. But, you know, you have to remember he found out two and a half hours before that game that he was starting. He was the moment was too big for him.

It shouldn't have been, but it was. And he has made sure to correct that he was not really ready for that moment. And he's definitely going to be ready or more ready for this one. We're always excited to have Mary Kay Cabot with us from Cleveland, longtime Browns beat writer for Cleveland dot com and the plane dealer.

It's after hours with Amy Lawrence here on CBS Sports Radio. I'm glad you said that. What makes you so sure that he is ready and equipped for the moment now? Well, just from a preparation standpoint, it's night and day, and that's the phrase that he's been using. I talked to him a couple of weeks ago and I asked him what will happen next time out. And he said night and day.

He repeated it again today. And that is because he knows now what he didn't know that. And that is that you have to study. You have to know your playbook. You have to know the play sheet. You have to know the game plan.

You have to be watching film of your opponent. And he just was not prepared to that for that level against the Ravens this week. Even when we were done talking to him today, he went straight over to his locker. He got out the playbook and he was sitting there studying like crazy. And so I think from that standpoint, it's like he is preparing for the CPA exam or something like that. I mean, he is you know, it's not going to be because of lack of preparation if this does not go well for him.

He is just going to do whatever it takes to make sure that he knows what's going on, that the game is a little bit slower for him than it was on October 1st. And again, it's not going to be easy. We're talking about T.J. Watt and we're talking about Alex Highsmith and Cam Hayward. And Cam Hayward was already talking about, look, here's what we're going to do to a rookie quarterback. You know, the Pittsburgh Steelers under Mike Tomlin are 24 and five against rookie quarterbacks.

So that is obviously a very daunting stat. And, you know, it's a lot to overcome, but they already beat some of the odds in Baltimore last weekend. And I think I think this team feels like you can throw any of those steps out the window right now. The run game has managed to establish itself or maybe reinvent itself with the loss of Nick Chubb. As devastating as that was, Jerome Ford, he was out for a little bit, but he's back. He's over 500 yards. Kareem Hunt rejoined the team.

He had a big touchdown last week and in fact seems to be right in the thick of the action. How have you seen the run game and the offensive line rise to the occasion? Well, you know, they figured it out and that's another major change since when they lost to those Baltimore Ravens on October 1st. They have gotten it together.

They are running by committee and doing a really nice job of it. And as you mentioned, the one two punch of Jerome Ford and Kareem Hunt, it's been dynamite. One silver lining of losing Nick Chubb is that it enabled one of his best friends in the whole world, Kareem Hunt, to come back here.

And nobody wants to try to win the Super Bowl for the Cleveland Browns more than hometown boy Kareem Hunt. So, you know, he's out there, you know, just plowing forward for touchdowns. He's got six touchdown runs already.

He has them in five straight games. And then you have Jerome who can hit the home run at any time. They're number two in the NFL in rushing without Nick Chubb.

So I think that's been remarkable for them. And that will help DTR when they go out there on Sunday. The other thing is Nick Chubb went down in the Steelers game and he had his second surgery this week.

He's out there posting, you know, photos of himself holding the Batman mask. I think this is going to be a rallying cry for them on Sunday against the Steelers. They have dedicated their season to Nick Chubb.

So they're going to do everything they possibly can to go out there on Sunday and make sure that they do right by him. How would you describe the emotions from Sunday when they rally past the Ravens in Baltimore after being down 14 points to begin that fourth quarter? The huge pick six by Greg Newsom, of course, the missed extra point, which kind of added to it. And then finding out this news about Deshaun Watson being lost for the season on Tuesday.

It's been such a roller coaster of emotions. I mean, everybody was so shocked when, you know, when we all heard about this, you know, nothing slipped out. They kept this locked down. Everybody did. Nowadays, things slip out everywhere.

This did not. So when they made that announcement, it was like thunder. Brownstown was riding so high, I think everyone thought, OK, now they've got the quarterback to go along with the defense.

Let's roll. And then once again, you know, I basically said the factory of sadness, you know, turned out another lemon here. But you know what? That's not how they're looking at it. I immediately immediately this football team, you know, went into let's change the narrative on this. Let's not make this be a death sentence for this football team. You know, let's make sure that everyone knows from top to bottom and throughout this whole entire community that we are not giving up on everything we hope to accomplish this season. But I'll tell you, it has been a roller coaster of emotions. Mary Kay Cabot is with us from Cleveland.

It's after hours here on CBS Sports Radio. I know that you interact with a lot of fans through your writing and also podcasts and TV reports. Do you think the fan base shares the optimism that you are expressing from the locker room? You know, I think people are so excited about the defense that that there is some belief that they can get this done.

But there's also some skepticism. It strains credulity to think that a fifth round rookie who went out and basically just got crushed by the Baltimore Ravens can take this team to where it wants to go. But hope always springs eternal in Browns town. And I do think that, you know, there is belief here that they can keep this thing rolling along, in part because they have some winnable games. Now, of course, this is going to be a really, really difficult out on Sunday. But when you look ahead to the rest of the schedule, the Browns, in terms of DVOA of average of their opponent, are about 24th in terms of strength of schedule. There are plenty of winnable games left on the schedule, whereas the Bengals and the Ravens, they have a much, much tougher road, you know, the rest of the way. So I do think there is some thought that they can somehow, some way find their way into the playoffs.

And then they hope that they can ride that running game we've talked about and whatever DTR can give them and their dominant, dominant defense. And still make some noise this season. Mary Kay, you mentioned the AFC North there definitely is the best division in football. Even as the Bengals lose on Thursday night in fall to five and five, there isn't a team that is below 500. So now having seen more than half the season with the division, what are your impressions? You know, I 100 percent believe that it is the best division in football. And the unfortunate thing right at the moment, now Deshaun is out and nobody really seems to know exactly what's going on with Joe Burrow yet.

That's a sole crusher right there for for anyone in Cincinnati right now. I mean, you know, they may have had an opportunity to go out and win that game, do something that they never do in prime time on the road and keep themselves really firmly in that hunt. And so, you know, this whole AFC North right right now took a jolt. I remember looking at this week. This was such a huge week for the AFC North with this big enormous game on Thursday night.

And then you fast forward to Steelers and Browns on Sunday and you can circle this in red on your calendar and say this is where it was kind of won or lost right here. And what was really lost was Deshaun Watson. And then who knows about Joe Burrow for I don't know if it's a week or two weeks or what's going on there. But it really is shaking up the division right now. And, you know, it's really hard to say where this is going to go now.

Right. What does the future hold for Deshaun Watson, whether it's in the immediate or down the road? Well, first, he has to undergo the surgery to repair the fractured glenoid bone. And I talked to one doctor the other day who said that he thinks he should be back to full football activity in about six months from that. Now, I talked to another doctor who said he thinks that he can get back much sooner than that.

But if full football activity happens in six months, that would have him on the field sometime around May. And, you know, you just have to hope that he comes back the way that he left, because I think he showed in the second half of that Ravens game what he's all about and that he still is. The quarterback at the Browns spent two hundred and thirty million dollars on and spent three draft three first round draft picks to acquire. Mary Kay, I didn't know this until I was checking out your Twitter, but Jim Donovan, the longtime voice of the Browns, is returning for Sunday's game against Pittsburgh.

What does he mean to fans, but also to the organization? Oh, Jimmy's the best. I mean, he's absolutely amazing. I know you've heard him on the call. You know, he no one does it better than Jimmy. And I think that's going to be, you know, just another source of inspiration for this football team, which, again, kind of got kicked this week. And I think that, you know, Jimmy coming back is is going to lift everyone up. And in the same way that they have dedicated their their season to Nick Chubb, I think that there are plenty of players who are going to dedicate that game to Jimmy Donovan's return. It's one thing I always say whenever I talk to Mary Kay, and that is never a dull moment around the Cleveland Browns.

Even now at six and three, which is amazing in the toughest division in football, still many challenges and much adversity to overcome. You can find her on Twitter at Mary Kay Cabot, C-A-B-O-T, longtime beat writer for the Cleveland Browns, insider for Cleveland dot com and the plain dealer. And it's always great to catch up with you.

We do it about once a season or so. Happy Thanksgiving to you. And thank you. You too. You take care.

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