CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Halfway home, with five wins in eight games but also some ugly losses, Andrew Berry decided to ride with the guys he has. The trade deadline came and went on Tuesday with no action here at home, and little around the league.
“We explored a number of different possibilities," the Browns general manager told reporters in a zoom meeting on Wednesday. "Really for us, the trade process is really every week. It is not even just about the deadline. We did explore a number of different possible transactions. I would say maybe a couple of things got perhaps within striking distance but either moved away from us or we moved away from it for various reasons. We are really happy with the team that we have in place, and we are looking forward to the next eight games.”
Yep, this team continues to be a work in progress, and for Berry, of course, his work was done in the offseason.
Bringing back Olivier Vernon, who’s been less than impressive but did finally rack up a couple of sacks on Sunday.
Bringing in B.J. Goodson, who’s held his own at linebacker.
And drafting two players from a national champion who were expected to make an immediate impact on defense, and of course Grant Delpit was lost for the season, and Jacob Phillips has been banged up all season.
The loss of Delpit was just one of many in the secondary, which forced another newcomer, Andrew Sendejo, into a heavier load than most expected. It hasn’t been pretty, but Berry sees some bright spots.
“On the defensive side of the ball, obviously Myles is having a fantastic year," Berry said. "I think our corner group is playing good football, and we are certainly excited to see how are young linebackers progress in the second half of the season. I think there is a lot to be encouraged with across the roster. We are by no means a finished product, but I think there are bright spots about these first eight games in every phase.”
The defense has to improve ... greatly ... but on the other side of the ball, there is help on the way. Nick Chubb will be back. Austin Hooper as well. Two key weapons to help Baker Mayfield down the stretch.
Is Berry convinced that Mayfield is the long term answer at quarterback?
“Honestly, I really do not get too caught up in that type of narrative," Berry said. "All I know is that I think Baker has played well and he has done a nice job during these first eight weeks. He has allowed us to play winning football. We have had winning football from that position. Expect him to keep doing that over the second half of the year. Look, we are going to be in a good place as a team and organization if that is the case.”
And as for Odell Beckham Jr., who will undergo knee surgery next week, Berry was asked once again if OBJ is here for the long haul.
“I would say to me, and respectfully, I feel like I have answered this question enough. I can’t control what the outside noise says.
“Honestly, our focus with Odell, Odell is one of the best receivers in the NFL. He played really good football for us before he was injured. He has done a fantastic job with his teammates and at practice. He has embraced the organization. He is under contract for multiple years. Our focus with Odell is making sure that he recovers from the ACL tear. We want him to be healthy and ready to go next year, but we are pleased with him.”
Berry may not have pulled off a trade, but even without Beckham, the Browns have the pieces to make a playoff push. If Kevin Stefanski can keep this train on the track.
“I think the most impressive part about Kevin is his poise. He is genuinely the same guy every single day, regardless of what has happened on Sunday and regardless of what we have dealt with during the day – even keel, same quick wit and sense of humor. I think that is the most impressive part because I think all of us on this call realize how hard and how stressful his job can be. I think our team is in about as good of hands as we can ask for with Kevin at the helm.”