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Mailbag: Playoffs in my lifetime? Who’s to blame for running game? Win now, really?

Q: Do you think you will see the Browns in the playoffs again and matter in your lifetime? Hell, I’ll take relevant! Playoffs? Playoffs?

— @FordFedele

A: Well, I’m 44 and hoping to hang around for a while, so I’ll say yes. The real question, to me, is if the Browns will become competitive under the current regime. I’m not as confident in that. I agree Sashi Brown and Co. should get more time to be fairly judged, but if I were owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam, I would need to see at least three wins this season before I committed to a third year.

 

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Q: Which group do you attribute the poor rushing performances more, the running backs or the offensive line? If it’s the offensive line, why?

— @ack_55555

A: How about third and fourth options in coach Hue Jackson and rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer?

There are several factors for a hugely disappointing run game that ranks 27th with 76.5 yards a game, and I would rank them in this order: Jackson, Kizer, the line, Crowell.

Jackson has failed to live up to his promise to commit to the run. I understand why he abandons it when the Browns are consistently behind by double digits, but as the play caller it’s up to him to find a way to get Crowell going.

That’s made that much harder when defenses aren’t afraid of the passing game and put extra defenders at the line to stop Crowell. The rebuilt line was shaky early but has come around. And while Crowell hasn’t been perfect and has missed a hole or two, he’s the least of the problems. Given the chances, he’d be the same Crowell who looked so good early last season.

 

Q: There has been so much talk about the Browns’ approach, using analytics to determine players’ value and not overinvesting. All that makes sense. But how can the front office say they are trying to win now when they are $63 million under the salary cap, they let Alex Mack and Mitchell Schwartz go, all while doing very little to fix the WR holes?

— Andy Johnston

A: They can’t. When Sashi Brown talks about winning now, he does it almost tongue-in-cheek. He knew when he tore down the roster, including letting Mack and Schwartz leave, that winning went out the window. I believe that’s the wrong way to approach the rebuild and a primary source of frustration for fans. When teams with similarly low expectations like the Jets, Rams and Bills get multiple wins early in the season, it makes the Browns look that much worse.

 

Q: Have you ever considered researching back to the roster Haslam inherited when he purchased the team in 2012, examining that roster and imagining we instead built further upon it, with astutely determined draft selections in subsequent years, acknowledging the benefit, however, of retrospective accuracies? It is my guess we’d have been far better than 21-64 since.

Finally, the question: Wouldn’t you rather have this nucleus than what is now in place?

— Mark Leonard

A: I haven’t spent much time on that, just because there have been three regimes since GM Tom Heckert and coach Pat Shurmur were fired. However, I’ve always thought the Browns would’ve been better off from a talent standpoint if Heckert had been kept.

Your question illustrates a primary problem that has perpetually sabotaged the organization. The lack of continuity leads to constant roster turnover, and that is detrimental to development.

Finally, the answer: Yes. They still needed a quarterback and more playmakers, but there were pieces on defense and the offensive line that should’ve been retained.

Browns writer for The Chronicle-Telegram and The Medina Gazette. Proud graduate of Northwestern University. Husband and stepdad. Avid golfer who needs to hit the range to get down to a single-digit handicap. Right about Johnny Manziel, wrong about Brandon Weeden. Contact Scott at 440-329-7253, or email and follow him on and Twitter.

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