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Davey Jones’ Locker: Five Questions with Dawgs by Nature for Week 7

Chris Pokorny previews the Bucs-Browns matchup.

New England Patriots v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

The Cleveland Browns come in to Tampa Bay for their Week 7 matchup against the Buccaneers. Both teams are coming off brutal losses in Week 6 and to help preview this week’s game, Chris Pokorny of Dawgs by Nature joins us for a Q&A.

Bucs Nation: What has been the reception to Baker Mayfield so far? Has the team been supportive of the young quarterback?

Chris Pokorny: Baker Mayfield had his first “bad” game last week against the Chargers, but he wasn’t the reason the Browns lost -- everyone played well below their standards. In terms of support, everyone loves Mayfield and believe it was the right decision to move on from veteran Tyrod Taylor so quickly. The rookie has had great command of the offense at the line of scrimmage, is accurate, makes strong throws, and can shake defenders to help extend plays. One of the weaknesses I have seen out of him include not having the right feel yet for the height that he needs on some of his passes; in other words, defensive linemen or linebackers have been able to tip passes intended for open receivers in the seam. The other weakness is that there are a handful of times per game in which he doesn’t feel the rush coming, leading him to walking right into a sack when he tries to bail from the pocket. But the support is there 100%, and the fanbase is very excited to watch him lead a competitive team while developing at the same time.

BN: Mayfield struggled last week, but to be fair he faced one of the top pass defenses in the league in the Chargers. Has Hue Jackson and the rest of the staff tried to make adjustments to help be more successful?

CP: Hue Jackson and “adjustments” do not belong in the same sentence ;) One thing I will say is that I feel offensive coordinator Todd Haley has not really limited the playbook for his rookie quarterback, and Mayfield has handled that aspect of things pretty well. Last week in the first half, Mayfield put two long passes right on the button for two rookie receivers in the end zone, but each rookie misjudged the ball, leading to an incompletion. That helped deflate some of the mood in what could have been a closer shootout type of game. Mayfield also slipped on the sideline first down marker, forcing him to play the rest of the game on a sore ankle. The adjustments I’ve heard Mayfield speak of this week are that he wants to speed up some of his decision-making and also remember to throw checkdown passes at times to help pick up yardage as opposed to always looking for chunk plays.

BN: What’s the deal with Nick Chubb? Are there any plans for him to become a bigger part of the offense?

CP: This question ended up being great timing! After you asked it, the Browns traded starting running back Carlos Hyde to the Jacksonville Jaguars. That definitely opens the door up for Nick Chubb to start getting more carries as opposed to the three-per-game he has been getting. Whether Chubb or Duke Johnson become the “starting” running back remains to be seen, but Johnson is a fantastic receiving option and Chubb has shown a lot of promise in limited action. The one concern I have is Chubb’s pass protection abilities. I felt he was lost in that area in the preseason, and wasn’t much better in the regular season.

BN: Cleveland is coming in with the fifth ranked running game while the Bucs are the fifth best team in the league against the run. Will this be a game where the Browns have to lean on the running game to take pressure off Mayfield and try to force the Bucs to play the run despite how good Tampa Bay has been against it?

CP: The Browns being ranked fifth in the NFL in rushing is one of those things where I really don’t feel it translates to meaning the Browns are great at rushing, or that they are a run-first team. Some of that yardage was inflated in the first few games from Tyrod Taylor scrambling so often. Cleveland is not afraid to unleash the passing game. There will be no restraints on Mayfield when it comes to that, so “taking pressure off Mayfield” is not a particular priority the team is trying to achieve.

BN: Prediction for Sunday?

CP: The Browns were so competitive in the first five games that even national media members were mentioning that Cleveland could have been a 5-0 team. That is why last week’s game against the Chargers was so weird -- no one came to play. Sure, there were legitimate excuses I could make like dropped passes and bad officiating, but overall, the Chargers just dissected Cleveland so well that they kept running the same plays and couldn’t be stopped. I’d like to think the Browns can bounce back, but they are trying to clear another hurdle by getting their first road win in forever. I am picking the Browns to win, but I would not place money on this game because it is more of a fan pick than a confidence pick.