Interview With Ron Bluhm
Every week, I’ll get the opportunity to interview someone who covers the team that Pittsburgh will be playing that week. As Steelers fans, you know everything about the team and how they operate. However, it is important to get a taste of things from the other side. Understanding the opposition not only broadens your knowledge of the league, but will also aide in evaluating the Steelers during the game.
This week, I had the pleasure of grabbing a few words from Ron Bluhm, Vice President and Hiring Manager for CLESportsTalk.com. Rod also co-hosts the Brownie Podcast which you can find on Twitter @BrowniePodcast, and you can also follow Rod’s personal account for more Browns content at @CSTRodB.
DD: The last time the Steelers and Browns saw each other was the first week of the season. How do you feel the Browns are different as opposed to opening week?
Rod: Well, the main difference for the Browns is having Baker Mayfield start at QB. Baker is gaining experience each week. Other things have changed as well. There have been several changes at WR due to injuries and the trade of Josh Gordon. Joe Schoebert is injured and will probably not play this week. That pushed Kirksey inside and causes other changes for the defense. The Browns also have a new kicker in Greg Joseph.
DD: The country was won over by Baker Mayfield when he stepped on the field against the Jets and led the Browns to their first victory since 2016. Since he first took over the starting job, how has Baker grown since week three?
Rod: Baker is gaining invaluable experience each week. After all, we didn’t expect to see him this early. He was really sharp against the Jets. Other teams have had a chance to prepare for Baker. He has usually looked poised, patient and in command on the field, yet I don’t think we can say there has been a steady progression yet. Keep in mind, he’s lost not only Josh Gordon, but two of his favorite targets in Rashard Higgins and Derrick Willies.
DD: Cleveland shipped Carlos Hyde to Jacksonville, clearing the way for rookie Nick Chubb to shoulder the workload at the running back position. What do you like about Chubb and what he brings to the table?
Rod: I’ve been a fan of Nick Chubb since I first heard him speak when he got to Cleveland. He’s professional and unassuming. Carlos Hyde was the perfect guy to work with Chubb. Nick credits him with teaching him a lot in a few months. He has a burst and higher top-end speed than anyone imagined. He fights for the extra yard and has the power to drag guys.
DD: Shifting the focus to the defense, Denzel Ward has been phenomenal and is quietly putting his hat in for defensive rookie of the year. The Steelers passing attack looks to have returned to form as of late, how confident are you in Ward and others in the defensive backfield to slow Pittsburgh down?
Rod: Speaking purely about the Browns DBs, I have a lot of confidence in these guys. Denzel Ward is looking more like a steal at four than a reach. Damarious Randall has been great at Free Safety and even played some corner last week. Jabrill Peppers is playing well after looking uncomfortable most of last season. He is a Strong Safety and playing his natural position has helped. The Browns have had injuries at the second corner spot, but have received decent contributions nonetheless. We know that the Browns can’t stop the Antonio Browns and Juju Smith-Schuster’s. It won’t happen in today’s NFL. I do think that Ward can slow down Brown somewhat. They’ll need someone to do the same to Juju.
DD: There’s a lot of speculation around Hue Jackson concerning his job status with the Browns. Cleveland has shown the potential to be competitive, and it feels like it’s only a matter of if, not when, Jackson is kicked to the curb. What are your thoughts on Hue as a head coach?
Rod: The Browns are still a young team and have been in every game except the Chargers game. The issue is the last two seasons have been so bad that Hue is running out of time. I backed Hue for a long time. I now think a change is needed and will be made before long. You can only blame everyone else for so long and you can only keep your job without collecting wins for so long. It’s surprising to most Browns fans that Hue has survived this long.
DD: If the Browns are able to (blank), they will win the game.
Rod: Score more points than the Steelers? That’s a cop out answer, I know. The problem is that I’ve watched the Browns lose in every conceivable way already this season. They’ve won the turnover battle in almost every game. They’ve scored well in some games and shut down the opponent in others. They’ve lost on horrible calls and miracle field goals. Assuming this game doesn’t come down to a blown call, I believe the Browns can win if they can eliminate the drive-killing penalties, score points on offense and win the turnover battle.
Pittsburgh has the opportunity to exercise demons by getting a win against Cleveland, which would shut the door on the poor start the team had at the beginning of the season. Yet as we’ve seen from the Browns all season, they won’t go down easy.