Dan Hanzus takes questions from you, the readers, in his latest mailbag. Thanks to everyone who sent in questions. You're all first-round talents.
This is fair. Perhaps the Football Cognoscenti has been too quick to crown the Browns this offseason. Maybe Freddie Kitchens isn't ready for the big chair. Maybe legitimate expectations -- a completely foreign concept to the Browns since their 1999 reboot -- will have a negative effect on the team. Maybe Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry will have a BFF falling out not seen since Hogan and Macho Man clashed over Miss Elizabeth.
Then again, there's simply too much promise here to ignore the Browns when discussing Super Bowl contenders in the AFC. Baker Mayfield exploded on the scene and looks like every bit the superstar QB this franchise spent decades wandering the desert in search of. The Beckham trade was an absolute robbery that provides a turbo boost to an offense already dotted with legit playmakers like Landry, Nick Chubb and David Njoku. This isn't a lopsided roster, either: A defense that performed well in 2018 was supplemented with multiple draft picks, not to mention trade acquisition Olivier Vernon. When you factor in the forward momentum of this franchise right now, I'd be stunned if Gerald McCoy -- a rumored Browns trade target -- is playing anywhere but Cleveland come September.
Can the Browns fall on their face? Absolutely. Is it more likely they are a playoff team as dangerous as their quarterback? I think so.
This all seems like normal day-to-day stuff in the high-pressure world of professional football team building. You could even call these disagreements healthy, assuming things don't enter a toxic realm. And what's the tie that binds the reports out of San Francisco and New York? Both general managers -- John Lynch with the Niners, Mike Maccagnan with the Jets -- can't afford to repeat their matching 4-12 records last year. The stakes are high. Egos are involved. Jobs are on the line. I'd imagine there aren't too many team headquarters that are kumbaya 24/7 during the team-assembly portion of the NFL calendar.
For what it's worth, Shanahan labeled the report of internal Niners discord as "Complete bull---." We classify this in the business as a hard denial.
Amanda, I want to tell you that you are absolutely not being punked. That this is just an organization in transition ... and transition is hard ... and everything is going to be all right. That one day you'll look back at all this and it will all seem funny. But I cannot do that. Every Giants fan I know right now is Justin Timberlake after his house was repossessed on "Punk'd". Sitting on the steps, in full-on shock, hands hiding his or her face from a reality they cannot imagine to be possible. I honestly wonder how many Big Blue supporters at this point would get behind Ashton Kutcher as general manager before Dave Gettleman. I'm not even kidding.
Wang, of course, is referring to Carroll's decision to reveal his naked torso after draft prospect (and future Seahawk) D.K. Metcalf arrived topless for his combine interview. I'm totally behind Carroll making this his new thing. Candles, oils, incense, Frank Ocean slow jams -- just lean into it. Pete Carroll is damn near 70 years old! If I look like that when I'm a septuagenarian, I would permanently remove clothes from my life. It would be just me being led to the police station on a never-ending waterfall of public-indecency charges, and I would be absolutely cool with it.
This week on the "Around The NFL Podcast," I said the Broncos have the widest range of believable outcomes of any AFC team in 2019. Joe Flacco's arrival is the No. 1 reason for that. If Flacco can stay healthy and productive, the Broncos have enough talent on both sides of the ball to play football in January. But if Flacco can't turn back the clock? Drew Lock will likely find his way into the lineup before Halloween, at which point things could take an ugly turn. An 11-5 record wouldn't stun me with this Broncos team and 5-11 would make total sense, too. Like I said, a wide range!
As for Flacco starts? If I were a man who worked in the desert professionally figuring out these things, I'd set the O/U for Flacco 2019 starts at 11.5.
Wait ... what?
Huh? People are crazy, man. Listen, I know Cam is coming off a trying year. His shoulder was jacked up, and it played a primary role in Carolina fading badly down the stretch. But a healthy Cam Newton -- which we have no reason to doubt will be the version of Cam we get come September -- remains one of the best quarterbacks in football. And he won't even turn 30 until next week! If the Panthers quit on Newton for Will Grier, I'd have to assume Dave Gettleman got his old job back.
Perhaps Newton is a more polarizing figure than I realized in Carolina. Hit me up on Twitter if you can offer some rational reasoning why Cam shouldn't be seen as both the present and the future of the Panthers.
I've questioned the Packers' offseason strategy at points over the last few months, but the more I think about it, I see their angle. After all, what does Green Bay's quiet offseason on the offensive side of the ball really tell us? To me, this is general manager Brian Gutekunst saying, "Yes, the last two years have been rough, but we believe in Aaron Rodgers and we believe in the young players we've installed around him." The Packers chose to aggressively rebuild their defense while leaving the offensive facelift in the hands of Rodgers and new head coach Matt LaFleur. If the offense struggles with the likes of Geronimo Allison, Equanimeous St. Brown and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, the Packers will get roasted for burning another year of Rodgers' prime. But they have faith in their guys. With a fresh, McCarthy-free start, they expect much better results. Let's see how it plays out.
This is all understandable, and yet, I still remain very optimistic about the Chiefs in 2019. And you can trace that back to Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes. Outside of Belichick and Brady, there's not another head coach-quarterback combination I trust more to steer a team through times of uncertainty. Keep the faith, Ken.
Have you considered the possibility the Bills are covertly building a fearsome cadre of soldiers for a military offensive attack to come in the Western New York region? Using an NFL roster as a trojan horse for your burgeoning armed forces is, if nothing else, a provocative concept.
Until next time ...