August 16, 2014

Kyrie’s injury, Browns draft thoughts, and The War on Drugs: While We’re Waiting

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Kyrie Irving out at least two weeks. It’s that time of year. The season is down to the final month, the Cavaliers are slipping out of playoff position, and the injuries are piling up. The latest victim is Kyrie Irving, who left Sunday night’s game with an injured bicep. After an MRI revealed a strain in the long head tendon of his left bicep, Kyrie has been ruled out at least two weeks.

It could very well be more than that, though. The two week period is merely the rest period. After that, he will be “re-evaluated” and then the Cavaliers will decide how to proceed. Without Irving over these next two weeks, an already difficult schedule looks insurmountable. If the Cavaliers are out of the playoff hunt and chasing the bottom of the lottery, it makes you wonder if they would just hold him out for the rest of the season. We’ll see.

In the meantime, it will be interesting to see how the Cavaliers respond to Kyrie being out. Many Cavs fans have been anti-Kyrie all season long, placing the majority of the blame for this season on his shoulders. If there’s truth to that, will the Cavaliers play better without Kyrie? Will Dion Waiters step up to fill the scoring void that Kyrie is leaving behind? If nothing else, these next two weeks will be interesting from that standpoint, just to see what affect Kyrie’s absence has on the team and whether its a positive or a negative. 

***

Go Sixers! The Philadelphia 76ers lost their 21st consecutive game Monday night. The Sixers are now just five games behind the Cavaliers’ record losing streak of 2010-11.

It’s a silly thing to root for the Sixers to break the Cavs’ record. It won’t change anything. It certainly doesn’t mean that awful 26-game losing streak never happened. It just means another team managed to be just a little bit worse. But having said that, I still want the Sixers to break the record. Sorry, I just don’t want the team I root for to have the all time record for futility.

***

Welcome to instant replay. The Cleveland Indians got their first taste of expanded instant replay in their 5-4 loss to the Cincinnati Reds yesterday.

In the fifth inning, Reds 2nd baseman Brandon Phillips was called out trying to steal and the Reds appealed. After a brief replay, the call was overruled and Phillips was called safe. Despite the call going against the Indians, I remain firmly in favor of replay. I’m of the mindset in all sports that if replay can help make sure calls are correct, I’m all for it. The spirit of competition isn’t to win because human umpires make mistakes. Rather, it’s about winning the games with the players on the field.

***

Teddy Bridgewater has a shaky pro day. I don’t know how much one should read into QB prospects’ Pro Days. As SI.com’s Chris Burke explains, the practical application of pro days is a tricky proposition. So I don’t know whether the Browns should be scared off or not. But I do know you’d like your guy to have a good day.

As for the Browns, I go back and forth every day on what I want them to do in the draft. If they are definitely going to take a QB, I hope it’s not Blake Bortles. I just don’t like his shaky accuracy. I’m lukewarm on Bridgewater. If the Browns are going to go QB, I really hope it’s Johnny Manziel. I think Manziel’s attitude and brashness and freestyle play could be huge assets for a QB tasked with turning around the Browns’ fortunes. Furthermore, it would just bring some much needed excitement into the franchise. The fans would be excited, the national media would be paying serious attention to the Browns (which, of course, could be a very bad thing), and it would just put the Browns back on the NFL map.

But having said that, I still think deep down I would prefer the Browns take Sammy Watkins. Then they can draft a QB with one of their next couple picks. I think pairing up Josh Gordon and Watkins would be incredibly exciting. And then you can give Brian Hoyer a chance to show what he can do with Gordon, Watkins, and Jordan Cameron as pass catchers and Ben Tate in the backfield.

But really, this is why the Hoyer injury last season was so unfortunate. It would be nice to have a stronger idea of what the Browns really have in Hoyer. Were those 2+ games a mirage, or is Hoyer really capable of leading the franchise?

All I know is that when you look at last year’s playoffs, sure, you had your Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck, Cam Newton, and Alex Smith….former first picks. And you had Philip Rivers, taken 4th overall. But you also had 2nd round or later picks like Andy Dalton, Drew Brees, and Nick Foles. When you look at the 4 teams in the conference championships, three of the four QBs were taken 2nd round or later (Russell Wilson, Tom Brady, and Colin Kaepernick). There’s no clear right or wrong answer here, but all the matters is that the Browns have to get the QB situation right.

***

And now for something a little different. Recently, I’ve been getting into some NPR podcasts. In particular, I’ve really been enjoying This American Life, Radiolab, and Snap Judgment.

In a recent episode of This American Life, freelance reporter Susan Zalkind told a fascinating story about a guy named Ibrahim Todashev. Zalkind originally reported on this story for Boston Magazine, and it’s a really great read that asks a lot of questions.

If you remember after the Boston Marathon bombings last year, there were news reports of the FBI shooting a man in Florida. That man was said to have ties to the bombers. It turns out, the story is much deeper than that. The Florida man who was shot was Ibrahim Todashev, and he was once friends with Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Yet the real connection began with a triple murder in Waltham, Massachusetts on September 11, 2011.

The FBI claimed that Todashev confessed that he and Tsarnaev were involved in the Waltham murders. After questioning him for hours on end in his apartment in Florida, the FBI claims he verbally acknowledged having a role in the murders, and they were just about to get his confession in writing. Evidently, Todashev snapped at the last minute, attacking the agents, who ultimately shot and killed him. There is no physical evidence of Todashev’s confession, only the FBI agents’ reports.

But Zalkind’s story is much deeper than just asking whether Todashev and Tsarnaev were involved in the murders. I highly recommend listening to the episode, as Zalkind looks into just how the FBI investigates terrorism and what happens to the people who are connected to individuals who are accused of terrorism.

If you’re looking for answers, you’re not going to get them from Zalkind’s story. This isn’t about saying Todashev did or didn’t confess, or that he was or wasn’t involved in the Waltham murders. Rather, it’s about learning more about what all goes into protecting this country. Ultimately, only the FBI knows what happened in Todashev’s apartment and why they followed up Todashev’s shooting in the way they did. But it’s fascinating to realize just how much goes into fighting to keep this country safe while we all drive to and from our jobs every day, and write about and talk about sports. There’s an entirely different existence all around us, one we mostly remain blissfully ignorant to.

***

Finally, the album of the week. After an off week for new releases, we have another pretty strong week of new music. But this week’s album of the week is an absolute no brainer: The War on Drugs – “Lost In The Dream”. This is an album that almost certainly will be receiving album of the year hype come December. This Philly band has been kicking around for a few years, releasing a handful of well-received albums, but their latest album feels like their masterpiece. It feels like all the work they’ve put into crafting their previous albums has all come together for this reason….to make the perfect War on Drugs album. I absolutely love albums like this, where you are taken on a journey from beginning to end.

Honorable mentions this week:
- Ringworm – “Hammer of the Witch
- Perfect Pussy – “Say Yes To Love
- Black Lips – “Underneath the Rainbow
- The Coathangers – “Suck My Shirt

  • MrCleaveland

    Submitted for your consideration: Sammy Watkins is to Paul Warfield as Johnny Manziel is to Mike Phipps.

    Or, for another comparison, we’ve already had Johnny Manziel here. His name was Jeff Garcia, aka Mr. Skittish.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Andrew Schnitkey

    Plus, this looks pretty awesome.

  • RGB

    Well, with any luck our 2014 starting guards won’t be just 2 dudes plucked from the 6th and 7 rounds.

    http://i.imgur.com/OtE5i7b.gif

  • RGB
  • maxfnmloans

    With so many good receivers in this draft, I don’t think we need to take one at 4. I’m starting to think if they are going to take a QB at 4 it will be Bortles (not what I’d do, what I think they might do) so he can ferment on the bench behind Hoyer. If they don’t take a QB, I’m starting to think the play might be to grab a tackle, and bolster the line as much as possible to protect Hoyer and open holes for Tate.

  • Harv 21

    ” …the national media would be paying serious attention to the Browns…”

    Good thing, bad thing, why is that of any relevance? Oh yeah, we’re insecure hicks from lil’ Cleveland and need ESPN to validate us. [sigh]

  • Garry_Owen

    Shut it down boys. That might be the best gif ever.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Andrew Schnitkey

    I like how you left the next part in parenthesis out of your quote.

    Anyway, why is it of relevance? When I watch NFL Network, I like it when they talk about the Browns. If I watch or listen to any national sports show, I want the Cleveland teams to be part of the discussion. It’s not about validation or being “insecure hicks” (your generalization, not mine). It’s about wanting the Cleveland sports teams to be part of the discussion.

  • Garry_Owen

    I’m given to falling for the Manziel hype, but I think Bortles could be the best pick at 4 (assuming they’re committed to taking one). Particularly if he would really be in the “developmental” role, I see the best upside for Bortles.

    (For the record, though, I’m a Watkins man.)

  • Return of the (Alex) Mack

    Shouldn’t the #2 be retired?

  • Garry_Owen

    Should we play “Caption This”?

    1) “How in @#$% did I end up here??”

    2) “Judging by attendance, you’d think I got drafted by the Cleveland baseball team!”

    3) “Man, this is the NFL! And they couldn’t find me a helmet that fits!”

    4) “Wow. Never thought 4-12 would feel this bad.”

  • crobarred

    I’m scared to death of another positive test for Gordon. I would like to see Watkins at 4 and best player available at 26. If they have to have Manziel at 4 then maybe Benjamin at 26. I just don’t see how they don’t go after a WR in the first two rounds with it being a deep draft.

  • Harv 21

    I didn’t include “could be bad thing” in my quoted portion b/c I wrote it immediately as part of my very point: the weird local preoccupation about anything the national media says about Cleveland. Every insult or compliment is instant top story. This is not a syndrome found in many other places this size. Let’s just get the right QB. Then the team will be part of all the discussions.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Andrew Schnitkey

    I don’t care about what the national media says being a top story. Yeah, that aspect is strange. But I don’t see anything wrong with wanting the Cleveland teams to be mentioned and talked about when I watch a national sports show.

  • mgbode

    Here’s what I think about pro-days:

    http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2010/03/30/mayock-jamarcus-russells-pro-day-a-cautionary-tale/

    Mayock
    said this morning on The Dan Patrick Show. “The best Pro Day I ever saw
    as a quarterback was JaMarcus Russell. . . . I’ve never seen a
    quarterback throw the football like that in my life

    He loved the pro-day throwing of Gabbert and I still remember Kyle Boller’s amazing pro-day. Throwing in shorts is just one box on the scouting sheet.

  • mgbode

    He really didn’t have to rip off my right arm.

  • mgbode

    I am an unrestricted free agent. I have about 100lbs to gain, but I’m willing to give it a go.

  • mgbode

    Bortles scares me. On one hand, I love how he stands in the pocket and delivers the ball regardless of the pass rush. He is the best in this class at doing that and it’s beautiful. On the other hand, his mechanics are terrible and do we trust our coaching staff to completely rework him? QBs who need a ton of work scare me especially when we don’t know if we can protect him yet.

  • Garry_Owen

    No, no, we’re captioning the Sammy photo (but that’s certainly good for ol’ Timmay).

  • mgbode

    and I would love it if that talk didn’t start with chuckling.

  • porckchop

    tis merely a flesh wound

  • Garry_Owen

    Also strange how my captions fit for both photos . . .

  • Garry_Owen

    I totally agree, but all of the top QBs in this draft scare me. Again, though, if the point is to “develop” a QB behind Hoyer, then I still come out thinking Bortles is the best option. That gives us time to develop the line a bit (but if not, Bortles is the most survivable of the top 3, hands down).

  • Garry_Owen
  • Harv 21

    “This is how I’ll always wear this helmet. So I’m ready in case my agent calls with some better news.”

  • mgbode

    Bernie had great mechanics. They were not traditional mechanics but they were consistent and he was among the most accurate passers of his generation.

    Bortles is inconsistent and has bad feet. He needs alot of work. That’s all.

  • mgbode

    They all scare me to a degree too. There is no Luck, Peyton.

    I think Teddy’s pocket movement and quick reads makes him the most survivable. Bortles would stand in the face of the rush (and get hit). Despite his big frame that is gonna hurt. Manziel, well we know he would move around a ton and hopefully learn to not get hit, but he gave himself up a bunch at A&M.

  • mgbode

    fine, fine:

    “I’m modeling the NFL’s new concussion proof helmet”
    “Ugh, I hate the sidelines. Get me on the field.”
    “What you talkin’ ’bout Willis (McGahee)”

  • Garry_Owen

    I think Bridgewater may have hit his ceiling at Louisville. That’s not good, because Louisville doesn’t have a pro team.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Andrew Schnitkey

    I completely forgot to mention that in my reasoning for wanting Watkins. I love Gordon as a player, and I sure hope he has his personal life straightened out. But until he goes a couple years without getting in trouble, I don’t know how the Browns can trust him to be an every game WR. Watkins provides insurance should Gordon have any setbacks.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Andrew Schnitkey

    I do wonder…..so we know a good performance on Pro Day doesn’t mean a guy is going to be a good QB. But are there examples of guys having bad pro days and turning around to be really good QBs? I don’t follow NFL Draft stuff close enough to have recollection.

  • mgbode

    Drew Brees is the most cited example. Was considered a mid-1st round pick. Threw the ball terribly and was downgraded (taken w/ 1st pick in the 2nd round). It took him awhile, but he certainly has been great.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Andrew Schnitkey

    So we can’t even use Pro Day as a process of elimination then. Kind of makes you wonder what the point is, you know?

  • mgbode

    It’s just like the Superbowl didn’t make Peyton Manning a bad quarterback. It was one game. This was one day.

    It’s all about building a profile. We have to go through the entire process and get all of the information and put it all together. The hardest part is to figure out which pieces are the most important. But, by the end of it, we should have a good idea of what we think and see how it translates into what we know : )

  • saggy

    “not traditional mechanics”

    I have to check with the judges on that. If that’s allowed it certainly changes the game. Not sure I can live with Mel Kiper or McShay picking up on that one.

  • saggy

    TRADE DOWN.

    thank you.

  • mgbode

    I wish we could get what Kiper said about him back then. He was in the supplemental draft, but he still went with the 1st overall pick in it (since we traded with the Bills).

    And yes, definitely a stretch argument. But, man he could get the ball in a tight window despite the awkward movements and sidearm delivery.

  • Pat Leonard

    I’m afraid Sammy Watkins could be the second coming of Peter Warrick. There, I said it.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Andrew Schnitkey

    That all makes perfect sense. And yet the Browns have blown so many draft picks over the years.

  • mgbode

    Yep, our previous FO’s were terrible at figuring out which pieces were most important. Hopefully, our current FO is better at that part.

  • mgbode
  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Andrew Schnitkey

    Even though their actual size isn’t all that different, I feel like Watkins plays much bigger than Warrick ever did.

    On the other hand, the fact that I want Watkins means he will be a bust because I am the worst at NFL projections. So you might be right.

  • http://twitter.com/bbo13 B-bo

    “The fans would be excited” about Manziel with the fourth pick? Speak for yourself, sir. That’s my worst-case scenario in round one.