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One man’s opinion of the lockout impact on the Browns: “The Browns are among the most affected teams in this impasse. Cleveland has a rookie head coach (Pat Shurmur), a young quarterback (Colt McCoy) and will switch systems on both offense and defense. Cleveland hasn’t run a 4-3 defense since 2004. The team also has to make alterations in personnel to fit the scheme. With free agency delayed, the draft becomes even more important for the Browns to fix weaknesses, particularly on the defensive line. A West Coast offense is all about timing, and McCoy will not get the usual amount of offseason preparation to learn the new playbook and work with his coaches and teammates. Whenever a new collective bargaining agreement is reached, Cleveland needs to make up for lost time ASAP.” [James Walker/ESPN AFC North Blog]
Competition at 1B bad news for LaPorta: “Coming into the 2011 season, Matt LaPorta looked like he would have no competition at first base. This would benefit him greatly as he can use all the playing time he can get. It was obvious last year that splitting time with Russell Branyan had an affect on LaPorta. He seemed to be playing nervous and it showed it his stats. Being an everyday starter is something that LaPorta needs to continue his progression into the star that the Indians know he can become. The only problem this year is that he may once again have competition at first. The most recent signing of Nick Johnson could have an affect on LaPorta. Johnson is still rehabbing his right wrist which he recently had surgery on. He was signed to a minor league contract, but I can not see him in the minors for too long if he goes there at all.” [Steve Kubitza/Deep Left Field]
Mike Brown going to stay in the Central for his second act? “Ex-Cavs coach Mike Brown remains a strong favorite to be offered Indiana’s coaching job next season should Larry Bird return as team president. It’s likewise possible that Brown, currently working for ESPN, will receive other offers. But Indy’s recent swoon, lowlighted by a 26-point loss in Minnesota on Wednesday night after a honeymoon period under interim coach Frank Vogel, has renewed the belief in coaching circles that the Pacers will be conducting a coaching search at season’s end that starts with Brown.” [Marc Stein/Daily Dime]
Eric Mangini takes in some analytics with his new free time: “‘You’d love to have a guy in the booth that can say, Hey, we’ve got a 75% chance of that hitting,’ says Mangini, who was fired as Browns coach in January after two straight 5-11 seasons. ‘Because as a coach, you’d love real-time odds. And you have that to some degree. But between offense and defense and special teams, there are only so many of those things you can remember.’ So why didn’t you have that guy in the booth? ‘I wish I knew about this conference earlier,’ says Mangini. ‘Because I think there are a lot of kids here, a lot of professors here, a lot people here that I would love to have.’ What’s holding teams back from giving analytics a game-day role? ‘Somebody just has to take the initiative to make that happen,’ Mangini says.” [Sean Gregory/Time via Cleveland Frowns]
And this sophisticated analytic study should give you all the confidence in the world to go ahead and write in the Cleveland Indians as your 2011 AL Central champs – in permanent marker. [Jon Robinson/ESPN]
H.G. Dissinger on his co-author: “For the first time in his life he is under true pressure to perform. But James doesn’t know pressure. And there is no reason he would, given the way he has been treated, a lifetime of idolization now routinely resulting in last-second self-immolation. Ever since he first touched a basketball as a kid, virtually everyone around him has been terrified—terrified to coach him because of his gifts, terrified to get in his face, terrified to get him to work on aspects of his game that still need work. The result is a player who is psychologically soft, not a leader, still a cut-up kid masked by the physical maturity of his body, always placed on a pedestal by his coaches and teammates even when he deserves to be knocked off and dressed down and told that he has the stuff of a loser, not a winner…As for being a team leader, the very notion is a joke. James doesn’t have the presence; his affect is flat and dull, eager to avoid confrontation because of a difficult childhood in the Akron projects in which his only goal was to stay away from trouble. For all the endless hype, he wasn’t even a leader on his high school team. The role belonged to a fiery point guard name Dru Joyce III, who routinely got into fights with teammates during practice. James was a silly kid, fond of passing gas with booming impact.” [Buzz Bissinger/The Daily Beast]
(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)