August 26, 2014

The team that Cavs fans deserve, While We’re Waiting

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Happy Tuesday WFNY!

A couple weeks ago, I talked about how I often seem to catch part of Two Broke Girls whenever I start to write my weekly edition of WWW. But not this week. Thanks to the Every Simpsons Ever marathon, my TV has been firmly fixated on FXX.

I often watch syndicated episodes of The Simpsons, so I’ve seen many of the older episodes multiple times, but there’s just been something really enjoyable about going back and watching these classic episodes again, only this time in chronological order. Whether it be the Pinchy the lobster episode, Blinky the three-eyed fish episode, the putt putt golf tournament episode, the Hullabalooza episode, or Maggie’s first word episode, it’s been a never ending string of classics.

I don’t watch new episodes of The Simpsons anymore. I’m not sure why not, I just sort of fell out of it. For a very long time my DVR would still record the episodes every week, but I would just never feel like watching them, and I would inevitable have to delete them all at some point to free up space. But it’s funny, despite not watching the new shows, I’m never the less quite glad that the show is still on the air. There’s something comforting and reassuring that one last piece of my childhood is still hanging in there.

And I think that’s a big part of why the Simpsons has endured. The show is frozen in time at a point in a family’s life that we all love. While everything else around us has changed so much over the last 25 years, the Simpsons family has mostly stayed the same. And at the core of the show, family is what it is all about. Sure, everyone in the family has their own selfish moments and quirks, but when all is said and done, The Simpsons are one of the most tight-knit families on television.

And speaking of families…

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Kevin Love is a big deal for Cavaliers fans

Yes, of course I’m going to talk about Kevin Love here today. The trade is finally final and we can officially refer to Love as a Cleveland Cavalier. A lot has already been said and written about Love’s impact on the court, but I wanted to take a moment to talk about this event from the fans’ perspective.

When LeBron James left, we all know what that moment represented. I’ve often said that people outside of Ohio and the Cavs family couldn’t possibly totally comprehend the gravity and weight of that moment. It was much more than just a basketball thing. It was more than a regional thing. It was more than an economic thing. It was an unraveling of the fabric that tied all of us together as fans.

I remember something I wrote after LeBron left.

So please, please, please don’t take the easy way out and just give up on this franchise. Take heart in what Dan Gilbert said last night. He is going to fight for us in a way that LeBron never did. We held our tongue on a lot of things with LeBron over the years because we wanted to show him the same support and loyalty we thought he was going to give us, and so did Dan Gilbert. So no, I’m not going to sit here and blame him for firing off that letter last night. I’m a little worried about the impact it could have on signing free agents in the future because LeBron is a very popular player with a ton of friends in the league and none of them probably thought it was too cool. But this was personal for Gilbert. It had to be. It may have “just been business” to LeBron, but it wasn’t business for us in Ohio. This was about as personal as it gets.

Setting aside anyone’s feelings today about Dan Gilbert, positive or negative, I was terrified that LeBron’s departure was going to put an end to the community of Cavs fans that I had grown so fond of. I knew things would never be the same, but I so desperately wanted fans to not give up, to continue to fight to show support for this franchise that we all loved so dearly.

It wasn’t always easy, and there were so many trying moments over the last four years of darkness. All of us were tested to varying degrees, and while not everyone maintained the same level of passion throughout, for the most part, the Cavs family survived. And that’s something we should take a second to reflect on and be really proud of. Because everything is about to change.

Yes, this Kevin Love thing is a big deal. After suffering through long, dark, bitter cold winter nights watching this franchise falter in different ways over and over again, we are about to have one of the most fun teams to watch in the NBA. I don’t know how long it will take for everything to gel. I don’t know how many games this team will win this year. I don’t know if a Big Three who has two of the three without any prior playoff experience can make a Championship run in year one. The only thing I know about this team is that they have the pieces in place to be an incredibly fun team to watch with one of the most potent offenses the NBA has ever seen.

I’ve been reflecting a lot about how I feel about all of this. About LeBron returning after so publicly turning his back on all of us. About this franchise that has been a nightmare for four years suddenly being considered one of the favorites to win the Championship just one year after the Season of Huh. About reconciling my feelings about “Super Teams” in the NBA with my desire to see the Cleveland Cavaliers be relevant again. There has been so much to take in and it has been overwhelming at times. Yet the one thing I keep coming back to is that this is the team that the Cavs family deserves.

I get a little tired of people always pitting the Cleveland franchises against one another, as if we have to rank our loyalties. I’m a fan of all three franchises. Yes, basketball is my favorite sport and I feel the strongest about the Cavaliers, but I want to see success for all three of the city’s teams. Obviously the Browns push the needle in Cleveland, but after what I’ve seen the last eleven years has shown me that Cleveland is an awesome basketball city as well.

Actually, forget just the last eleven years. With the exception of the dead period post-Mike Fratello and pre-LeBron, the Cavaliers have generally been a playoff team or at least a playoff contender. The franchise has been in the playoffs fifteen times in my life. It’s easy to be a fan when things are going well. And I know many will write off those Fratello teams because they weren’t Championship contenders. They were just a team that made the playoffs as a low seed who lost in the first round every year. But I loved watching Mike Fratello get the most out of those low talent teams, finding a way to win games against all odds.

But it’s much harder to be a fan when the team is losing. And breaking records for losing. It’s ugly. It feels pointless at times. It’s trying in every way. Yet over the last four years, I could pop on Twitter for every game and partake in quality discussions and debates with a multitude of like-minded Cavs fans. The wins may have left, but the passion of the fans didn’t.

So sure, LeBron returning is the biggest Cleveland sports story of my life. That along would have made this an amazing offseason. But adding Kevin Love is the biggest cherry on top. And I’m just so happy for the fans. Forget about how this team was constructed or how much luck was required to get here. For once, we can just live in the moment and enjoy this ride we’re about to embark on, wherever it takes us.

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Is LeBron’s weight actually a problem?

This article is a couple weeks old, but I just stumbled on it. It comes from the Toronto Star and it questions whether LeBron’s weight loss is a good thing or not.

“It’s unhealthy for athletes,” said Guest, a Toronto-based sport dietitian and PhD candidate studying genetics and high-performance athletes at the University of Toronto.

“There are some proponents out there that feel that if you stay on a high-fat diet long enough, that you can adapt to using fat as a primary fuel. It’s extremely risky, and more often than not, we see fatigue, we see a decrease in performance, immunity issues. Carbohydrates are an athlete’s best friend,” said Guest.

I don’t know how LeBron lost all his weight or whether or not he is consuming any carbs or not. I think it’s risky whenever any medical professional tries to diagnose someone without actually talking to them or examining them. But never the less, I did find this article at least interesting.

Is LeBron’s weight going to be a problem? Can he still play in the post with this frame? Will he fatigue as the season goes along? Who knows. I’m sure LeBron is working with professionals who are considering all of this and more. His diet now may not be the same as his diet once the season starts. Maybe he’s losing weight now, but will be consuming carbs once the season starts.

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Sure, lets talk about the Browns a little bit

I’ll admit, four years of Cavalier ineptitude wasn’t enough to dampen my spirit. However, fifteen years of it from the Browns is starting to get the job done. As I watched the Browns take the field Saturday night and then proceed to look exactly like the Cleveland Browns on the field, I found myself questioning myself, asking why I was even watching.

It feels like nothing matters. The Browns have tried EVERYTHING. They’ve changed every aspect of the franchise, even the owner. Nothing matters. This franchise fails over and over again on every level in every aspect. It’s frustrating and I’m getting tired of caring about them and wasting my Sundays watching the same team do the same things and make the same mistakes over and over again.

But hey, who knows. Maybe this is all just a preseason mirage and the real Browns will be a good football team. Maybe for once things will just kind of work out.

But as frustrating as all the losing and ineptitude has been, the thing that is frustrating me the most today is the Josh Gordon situation. As Mike Pettine has said, he’s “fairly certain” Gordon is going to miss time. But how much time? Yeah, wouldn’t we all like to know.

This suspension and appeal has been dragging out since night two of the draft. That was May 9, almost four months ago. And we still have no answers, no idea of what is going to happen with Josh. This whole situation seems entirely unfair to The Browns, to Gordon, to the fans, to everyone. And the longer this drags out, the longer Gordon will have to wait to apply for reinstatement if his one year suspension is upheld. What a mess.

I don’t know what kind of politics are going into a decision like this. I don’t know if a compromise is being negotiated or if one or both sides are playing some kind of hardball with the other. I just want this to be over so we can have some kind of closure on this and can move forward appropriately.

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New music of the week

What a week for new music! So much good stuff to consider. My pick for album of the week came down to J Mascis and Ty Segall. It was really hard to pick between the two, but I’m going with Ty Segall by a narrow margin.

I’ve talked before about Jersey bands wearing Jersey on their sleeve. Well, Ty Segall is not from Jersey. He is from San Francisco and boy does he ever wear that city’s style in his music. He encapsulates all of that weirdness, all of that psychedelic weirdness, and channels it into his own unique brand of garage rock.

Ty Segall has been around for a while, and he is one of the most prolific song writers in the indie music world. In 2013 he released three albums. One was a solo album, one with Ty Segall Band, and one with his other band Fuzz. Now in 2014, he’s back with a solo album and, in my opinion, it’s his best one yet.

Sometimes his brand of garage rock can be a bit trying. His albums aren’t always consistent. But this one is by far his most consistent and most accessible album yet. His songwriting is more focused and he allows the hooks to surface easier. But he does all this without giving up the extraordinary guitar playing. He still absolutely shreds on this album. So give it a shot, and see what you think:

Other albums to consider this week include:

  • J Mascis – “Tied to a Star”
  • Merchandise – “After the End”
  • The Rentals – “Lost in Alphaville”
  • Cymbals Eat Guitars – “Lose”

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That’s it for me this week. I hope everyone has a great and safe Labor Day Weekend, and I’ll see you guys back here next Tuesday when we will have a major change at WFNY for you guys. I look forward to it!

Browns poor preseason doesn’t guarantee regular season failure

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There’s nothing concrete that I can point to that will make Browns fans feel any better heading into the final preseason game and then Week 1′s contest against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The team has performed badly and it would appear that they’re completely unprepared to start the season. It would appear that this Browns’ preseason is worse than last year. A year ago, Brandon Weeden and company looked good for two games before faltering in the third game and sitting out the fourth. This year’s Browns have struggled for three straight games as Brian Hoyer and the Browns have looked mostly horrendous. All that said, I haven’t given up hope just yet and I feel like I want to provide a calm message with this team right now. [Read more...]

Browns make roster cuts down to 76, WR Anthony Armstrong most notable

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The Cleveland Browns announced a round of roster cuts on Monday morning. The team cut the roster to 76 players, which leaves them with one more cut to make by 4 p.m. Tuesday.

The players who were waived:

DB Royce Adams
RB Edwin Baker
OL Randall Harris
DB T.J. Heath
DL Cam Henderson
WR Jonathan Krause
OL Ryan Lee
LB Caleb McSurdy
OL Keavon Milton
LB Keith Pough
WR Tim Smith
OL Jeremiah Warren
TE Martell Webb

Contract terminated:
WR Anthony Armstrong

Armstrong received a lot of buzz the first week of training camp, but hasn’t produced much since. Royce Adams had a brutal preseason, especially the second game against Washington.

Injuries are likely making these decisions a little tougher. Several defensive backs (Joe Haden and Buster Skrine to name a couple) are expected back for the opener, but will not play on Thursday night against the Bears.

[Related: Winners and Losers from Browns-Rams]

(Photo: Scott Sargent/WFNY)

Browns Preseason Game 3: Winners and Losers

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So are we concerned yet? For the third week in a row, the Cleveland Browns were bettered by their preseason opponents. For the third week in a row, the offense left plenty to be desired. And for the third week in a row, the quarterback situation—despite a starter having been named—remains as a point of scrutiny. Let’s dig in to the winners and loser of the Browns’ Week 3 dress rehearsal.

LOSER: Brian Hoyer. If you just looked at the box score, you may be impressed by a 10-of-16 showing. But if you watched the game, especially from within the confines of FirstEnergy Stadium, you’re well aware that much of the 84 yards that were credited to Hoyer came on passes into the flat. The interception he threw into the middle of the field, with Miles Austin as the intended receiver, was ugly. Had Alec Ogletree not picked it off, one of the other blue jerseys in the area would have. Fans better hope that this is just a vanilla offense that isn’t showing much before the Week 1 contest against the Pittsburgh Steelers. If this is a sign of things to come, look out. [Read more...]

And so the Kevin Love era begins: While We’re Waiting…

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It’s Monday Funday, you guys!

Kevin Love Kevin Love Kevin Love Kevin Love. First order of business on this lovely Monday is to point you in the direction of Brian Windhorst’s latest on the Cleveland Cavaliers and their pursuit of one Kevin Love. It’s a fascinating look at the way the dominoes slowly lined up over the course of the last year and how much luck—in addition to shrewd draft pick accumulation—played such a huge role in tipping the first one over.

Twelve teams had reached out to the Timberwolves in attempt to discuss the acquisition of Love. The Cavaliers were the ones to pull it off. It’s interesting how much of a role Dan Gilbert played in all of this, and what was known when the team’s majority owner met with LeBron James before The Decision 2.0. It’s also interesting that LeBron’s decision to go with a shorter contract put a bit of a crimp in the team’s original plans—ones that involved waiting until 2015 and utilizing free agency. That said, it was also James who proved to be the ultimate recruiter—”James’ strong statement with his contract and private talks to win over Love proved to be the final grease to the skids.”—bringing two of the top 12 players in the league to Cleveland for the long haul.

This all still seems so surreal.1

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Talk about a quick turnaround. The Browns only had a few days to prepare for the St. Louis Rams, but the ultimate efficiency comes from the Cleveland street vendors who were able to churn out a slew of this shiny new take on the Johnny Manziel money gesture. Perfect timing for that back-to-school shopping!

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It’s officially fall. School’s back in, football has started and the award show floodgates have opened. Last night’s VMA’s, while not exactly The Academy Awards, were a bit of a mess, but there will certainly be plenty of headlines in the pop culture world. Front-loading the performances seems like a weird move, but when in doubt, put Beyonce on stage.

In the very least, Miley Cyrus winning Video of the Year allows me to repost this gem:

BejOqJMCUAAyFky

Monday night brings us the Emmy Awards, shining light on all of the amazing television shows over the last year. Breaking Bad cleans up, right?

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What does the future hold for Time Inc? NYMag’s Gabriel Sherman penned an in-depth profile of the country’s most storied magazine company as it operates amidst budget cuts and a murky landscape. Time, Fortune, Sports Illustrated, People, InStyle, and Real ­Simple are just a handful of the titles owned and printed by Time Inc. While they’re all still making money, earnings have fallen by nearly 65 percent since 2006.

The main misstep? Failing to implement a coherent strategy to adapt to the web, a gaffe that was only compounded by cost cuts rather than a reallocation of efforts. It’s shaping up to either be a turnaround story for the ages or a case study for media students of the next generation.

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“You can never have enough unreported opinions.” — No one, ever. Here’s this week’s edition of #ActualSportswriting

You can’t quit cold turkey” by Tommy Tomlinson (ESPN The Magazine): “Early in the second quarter of the River Monsters’ next game, Lorenzen was scrambling when a defender came at him head-on. Lorenzen got low. The defender got lower. The hit broke Lorenzen’s tibia and ruptured ankle ligaments. Now he’s got six screws and a plate in his lower leg and a long scar running down the outside. He says he’s finished, for good. He’s 33 years old, and for the first time since he was 5, Lorenzen has no plans to play football.”

How Felix Hernandez has so far survived baseball’s arm injury epidemic” by Jeff Passan (Yahoo! Sports): “His corners are his binky, especially on his arm side. Hernandez peppers the outside corner with his fastball against left-handers only to work back over the plate and bury the changeup that has become his trustiest pitch. Hernandez loves his change, which he picked up in 2009 fiddling around with grips. He made his index finger and thumb into a circle, squeezed his middle finger between the two seams and saw the ball come out of his hand and do unsavory things.”

30 Yards and a Cloud of Dust” by Seth Wickersham (ESPN The Magazine): “>Nobody has ever run a team quite the way Chip Kelly runs one. And [LeSean] McCoy is about to learn what it means to live and work in Kelly’s new system. During practice, players wear mandated heart monitors and GPS devices. Trainers carry water bottles labeled with each player’s name and after practice ask the players to pee into a cup, part of Kelly’s plan to track hydration. A monitor on a wall in the facility ranks the most hydrated players. Drinking water is now a drinking game.”

Twilight The Saga: The Final Fascinating Days of a Legend” by Chris Ballard (Sports Illustrated): “The thick-armed man moves quickly, establishing a perimeter and securing the entryway. This is his seventh year on Kobe Bryant’s overseas security team, and he knows how quickly things can go sideways, especially in China. Once, four years ago in Shandong Province, a guy slept overnight on the roof of a gym, curled in the darkness, and then, when Kobe approached, leaped from a low overhang, yelling, “Kohhhh-beeee!” In one fluid motion Attila Portik—for that is the muscle-bound man’s name, of Hungarian origin—intercepted the crazed fan and hurled him aside, as if bailing out a boat.”

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And just because… A Tyler Holt web gem to start your day.

Tyler Holt webgem 140824

Happy Monday, kids.

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Footnotes:

  1. An aside: Chris Grant won’t get much credit in what transpired over the last two months, but he certainly should. []

Like Cam Newton in 2011, its Open (pre) Season on Johnny Manziel

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It is officially open season on Johnny Manziel. Go ahead. Take your shots. Shoot your takes. Everyone else is doing it. He’s a petulant child. He is too entitled. His attitude needs to change. He parties too much and values his personal life more than his honing his craft. We’ve heard it all.

By now you know that the Browns lightning rod of a rookie Quarterback lost the latest QB derby to Brian Hoyer, who will take the reins and lead the team into Pittsburgh on September 6.  ((I still maintain this was their plan all along.)) Hoyer will play those first three games, most likely start 0-3 or 1-2 and then turn things over to JFF after the Week 4 bye—Week 7, against Jacksonville (and both Steelers games in the rear view mirror) at the latest.

Neither guy has been good. Hoyer was the lesser of two evils and the veteran who Head Coach Mike Pettine clearly has an affinity for. Manziel didn’t do enough on the field, didn’t help himself off the field or allegedly in the locker room, and boom: Johnny Football is now Johnny Clipboard. [Read more...]

Johnny Manziel can’t call a play?

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Johnny Manziel joined Jon Gruden for ESPN’s Sunday Conversation leading up to the Browns clash with the Redskins on Monday. The interview followed the normal Gruden interview trajectory with the Super Bowl winning coach asking Johnny some generic questions, followed by a Gruden favorite, having Manziel call a play from his new offense.

Manziel bashfully, muttered out a bunch of verbiage which on the surface seemed to suffice Gruden’s request, but did the play Johnny call make any football sense?

Chris Cooley, former Redskins tight end who played in Kyle Shanahan’s offense in Washington, wasn’t buying it. In a guest hosting spot on ESPN Radio’s SVP and Russilo on Thursday afternoon, Cooley exposed Manziel’s “play call” to Gruden as a bunch of nonsensical words strung together without any real meaning.

“Jibber jabber. It means nothing. He used all lingo from that offense but it does’t form a sentence. If offense is a language that is supposed to tie together, that doesn’t fit. You’re bootlegging right with your tight end on the left, running a corner route while also sifting across the line. You’re tight end is doing two things. Your Z is supposed to slide across with your bootleg but he is split all the way outside the numbers. He just made up words […] none of it made any sense.”

Mastering the offense is one of the most critical aspects to being a successful quarterback in the NFL, while it also one of the greatest challenges. Cooley went on to speak with Van Pelt about the difficulty quarterbacks have coming from the college game where offenses are simplified to the pro’s where they reach a whole new level of complexity.

In the college game, coaches have a limited amount of time for implementation and defenses have limited amounts of time to dissect those offenses. That’s why you’ve seen the popularity of the giant play cards made famous at Oregon and Auburn, but in the pro’s these guys have all the time in the world to work which leads to more complex offenses and defenses.

Cooley elaborated on the expectations people have for quarterbacks from Manziel’s offensive background coming into an NFL pro-style offense.

“I don’t think you can expect him to understand it. You could give him a wristband. In the game he gets a speaker into his helmet and the offensive coordinator would repeat it and it would be up to him to thus repeat it into the huddle. But without a good grasp of the moving parts going in the right places, that’s an issue. You’re just out there flim flaming.”

An NFL playbook is no doubt a place of complexity, but that doesn’t mean simple concepts can’t work in the league as well. Bill Bellicek famously sought Chip Kelly’s help while still at Oregon to install a hurry up offense in which saying one word would let the whole offense know which assignment to run. Kelly has since brought some of these concepts to Philadelphia where his Eagles had the second most yards in the league last year behind Peyton Manning’s Broncos.

Cooley also clued Van Pelt in on some of the success they had in Washington during Robert Griffin’s rookie season. The former Redskins’ tight end claimed they completed 82 passes for over 1000 yards all off of the same play action pass. With Griffin a threat to run on every play it engaged the 11th defender on the field who is otherwise unaccounted for and opened up running lanes for Alfred Morris and then room over the top on play action.

As for the offense in Cleveland, schemed by Kyle Shanahan, Cooley added,

“I betcha Rex Grossman could call a play. He’s awesome to hang out with, he’s smart, he’s a dude.

[Related: Brian Hoyer, Johnny Manziel and the undelivered quarterback mandate]

(Photo: Scott Sargent/WFNY)

Forbes claims Browns fans aren’t among the top 10 in the NFL

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It’s officially NFL list season at Forbes. When the NFL starts up, while others are debating depth charts and fantasy stats, Forbes does some compelling work looking at the business of the game. It’s the kind of work that likely tightens Darren Rovell’s pants.1 Anyway, Forbes has come up with a formula to calculate the NFL’s best fans as we stand today, and your Cleveland Browns don’t crack the top ten.

Here they are, in order:

1. Green Bay Packers
2. Denver Broncos
3. New Orleans Saints
4. New England Patriots
5. Baltimore Ravens
6. Indianapolis Colts
7 (tie) Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers
9. Seattle Seahawks
10. Chicago Bears

But how did Forbes decide that Wisconsinites are the best in the business? Take a look.

Our ranking is based on five criteria: hometown crowd reach (defined by Nielsen Scarborough as a percentage of the metropolitan area population that watched, attended, and/or listened to a game in the last year), 3 years worth of television ratings (per Nielsen), 3 years of stadium attendance based on capacity reached, 3 years worth of merchandise sales (per NFLShop.com), and social media reach (a combination of Facebook likes and Twitter TWTR +0.11% followers based on the team’s metro area population).

You’ll have to excuse me while I yawn a little bit here. Any calculation or formula that doesn’t control for the quality of the product on the field is pretty useless for this Browns fan. I’m sure there are far more excited fan bases out there right now, but I doubt there is one that’s as excitable as Browns fans. The constant changes in management, personnel and consistent losing on the field should serve as an amplifier in these rankings when it comes to Clevealand.

None of this is to say that Green Bay Packers fans aren’t great. They are. But don’t start to tell me that you can compare all these teams—most of which have had tons of success in the last decade—with a voracious fanbase like the Browns’ that has eaten mostly rotten food year-in and year-out since 1999, while consistently begging for more.

 

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Footnotes:

  1. You’re welcome for that mental image. []

Nick Swisher doing a Hafner impression and the Foo Fighters on TV… While We’re Waiting

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As you all are reading this, I’m likely in the middle of driving to Indianapolis for the weekend. Just so you know I’m not typing and driving. More on Indianapolis later in this post. For now, let’s get started, shall we?

Nick Swisher is the Travis Hafner sequel nobody wanted

Hafner SwisherI might feel sorry for Nick Swisher if I wasn’t too busy feeling sorry for my fellow Tribe fans. Indians fans had enough heartache with the trades of Cy Youngs, Victor Martinez and having to ride out the Travis Hafner contract. To think that the Indians would sign someone like Swisher, even with largely modest fan expectations for the guy, and have him turn into another Travis Hafner is just crushing. The news that he not only has aging, achy shoulders, but now needed double arthroscopic knee surgery to clean things out is hair-pullery that Indians fans had hoped was long-gone.

I don’t have a point here. I was in favor of signing Swisher or a guy like Swisher. I know that he’s a great teammate and a good person who wants nothing more than to make Indians fans happy by producing above his contract. Travis Hafner was the same way. I couldn’t hate him for all his struggles either. It’s just the unlucky roll of the free agent dice, I guess. It’s just too much. And there’s still two years and $30 million left to go before the Indians are free.

For reference, when the Indians had two years left to go with Hafner, he’d played 57, 84 and 118 games before finishing his Tribe career with 94 games in 2011 and 66 in 2012. Hopefully the Indians can get more than 160 quality games from Nick Swisher over the next two years.

Incommunicado during a very big sports day

I won’t pretend to be a big Gladiators fan, but they’re playing in the Arena Bowl on Saturday. The Browns are playing their most important pre-season game at the same time. The Indians will be live and in person at Progressive Field. All the while, the dormant Cavaliers might have a Kevin Love trade to announce. As one of the resident Browns guys, you’d think I’d be tuned in and writing furiously about the Browns as they’re making news on the field. Alas, I’ll be in Indianapolis at my wife’s1 high school reunion, DVR’ing the Browns, likely not glued to my phone for news.

And even if I could steal away for some TV time, how would I ever find the Browns pre-season game without Johnny Football scheduled to take starter snaps? I often say that given technology it’s the best possible time to be a sports fan. Even the wonderful advent of technology won’t save me this weekend. We’ll have to talk about it all after it’s already gotten stale by Monday morning.

Following up on the Ferguson chat on the podcast…

I had a great time talking to WayneEmbrysKids on the WFNY podcast and it was mere moments before he was driving to Ferguson to help out. Once he got back, he wrote about his trip on the pages of Scene Magazine’s website. It’s well worth a read.

As I enter the room, I am monitored by a camera and listened to by microphones. A booming police officer voice addresses me over a speaker and I respond while looking around at the ceiling as if I am talking to Jesus Christ himself floating in a cloud over my head. I am struck by the positive reaction to my very frank explanation that I am here to get arrested people out, and also to my request that I be permitted to wait in this three-chair fluorescent light lobby rather than be outside and myself be subject to arrest for a curfew violation.

There’s no good way to segue out of Ferguson talk, but I’ll do it anyway.  Here’s my pop culture / entertainment tidbit for the week…

This. Show. Looks. Cool.

Let’s be honest, music-themed TV shows aren’t usually all that great. Most music TV is reality-based singing competitions where in the end the audience choices end up not doing all that well artistically or commercially. Musical documentaries are better for art of course, but for every good one, there are 100 bad or boring ones. If I have to bet on one based on a trailer, I’m going to bet on the Foo Fighters doing a show for HBO about making their latest album with different musicians at different studios all over the country.

Sonic Highways is a bit of a cheesy title, but Dave Grohl and his band are consistently consistent and always have their heart in the right place. When you see guys going about their thing the right way, you just have to support it. Once I saw the opening to the Foos video for the Skin and Bones album where Dave Grohl walks around an arena with an acoustic guitar, I knew that I could trust the band with more than just music. Here’s the trailer for their new HBO show.

Have a great weekend everybody! Listen to a WFNY Podcast.

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Footnotes:

  1. cough 20th []

Atchison, Manziel reactions and the SI cover jinx: While We’re Waiting…

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Father Time: Congratulations go out to 38-going-on-50 Scott Atchison, who signed an extension with the Indians earlier this week. I distinctly remember back when the Indians signed Atchison in January to minor league contract/spring training invite deal. He had a mediocre season with the Mets in 2013, then was non tendered. He was just another guy, another shot in the dark. There was no knowing if he’d ever amount to anything. [Read more...]

Johnny Manziel called out by Hulk Hogan (for ALS Ice Bucket Challenge)

“Whatcha gonna do?” We now know that Johnny Manziel won’t be starting against the Pittsburgh Steelers, assuming Brian Hoyer is healthy. We also haven’t seen Johnny Manziel in any non-football videos lately. Sure one of the football-related ones will presumably get him fined for flipping the bird. But now, Johnny has all the excuse he needs to make an off-the-field video that won’t earn him any trips to the principal’s office. All thanks to the immortal Hulk Hogan.

Through all the offensive woes, the Browns defense stands strong

Browns vs Redskins goal line stand

Johnny Manziel versus Brian Hoyer. This battle has been the talk of Cleveland and the focus of national media—”Johnny Manziel and the Browns!” Seemingly every Browns-related story has been about the quarterback competition or the offensive woes that find the team struggling to find the end zone. But through all of these other story lines, the Browns defense has really shown itself to be a potential top-ranked unit in the NFL. [Read more...]

Manziel loses to Hoyer, Browns defense and the rest of the camp battles – WFNY Podcast – 2014-08-20

The fake Jim Kanicki who is also the real Mike Burgermeister came on the podcast to talk about the Browns today.

We talked about the following…

  • Brian Hoyer’s MNF game
  • Johnny Manziel’s MNG game
  • The offensive line vs. the defensive line
  • The Cleveland Browns running attack in 2014
  • Jerome Harrison
  • Browns unhealthy relationship with running backs since Jamal Lewis
  • much much more

YouTube…

Libsyn…

Check out this episode!

Brian Hoyer, Johnny Manziel and the undelivered quarterback mandate

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Brian Hoyer has been named the starter for the Cleveland Browns as they head one step closer toward the start of the regular season. If you really think about it, it’s not all that surprising. The Browns basically named Brian Hoyer the starter heading into camp. Basically. Nearly. Almost. Not quite. In a lot of ways, Mike Pettine and Kyle Shanahan would have made their lives infinitely easier if they had just gone that next step and named Hoyer the starter back when the veterans reported for camp, but they seemed to want someone to prove it. That’s understandable.

[Read more...]

Brian Hoyer named starting QB over Johnny Manziel

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In an email release, the Cleveland Browns have named Brian Hoyer the starting quarterback.

From head coach Mike Pettine:

“He was the clear leader from the beginning. We’ve maintained all along that if it was close, I would prefer to go with the more experienced player. Brian has done a great job in the meeting rooms and with his teammates on the practice field and in the locker room.”

The release stated that the coaching staff wanted to name a starter this week to begin building cohesion on the offensive side of the ball.

Pettine also praised the work that Manziel has put into camp and the progress he’s made.

“He’s certainly made great strides. We are pleased with where he is, and he has shown that he has come a long way in his ability to pick up the playbook, be coachable and lead an offense. We are confident that Johnny is going to have a great future, but we just felt that Brian still had a decided edge on him.”

The team was informed at a meeting this morning. No word on how many fingers Manziel used during said meeting.1

[Related: Shanahan blasted in critique of Hoyer and Manziel]

(Photo: Scott Sargent/WFNY)

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Footnotes:

  1. As a side note, it is very interesting that the QB competition story that everyone has been waiting for was basically handed to Vic Carucci to break. Carucci, of course, is employed by the team. []

Pettine declines to name a starter: “Not in position to make it at this time”

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Mike Pettine told the media on Tuesday that the team was not ready to name a starting quarterback yet.

This could mean that the staff decides on a quarterback tonight, informs the team tomorrow morning and then the media in the afternoon. It could also mean that the competition goes on for another week.

So there you have it. No news today Browns fans.

(For the record, technical issues locked a number of us out of the conference call today.)

[Related: Making the case for Manziel and Hoyer to start]

Shanahan blasted in critique of Manziel and Hoyer

Haslam Manziel

Mike Tanier at Sports on Earth gives us his impressions of the quarterback competition based on Monday night’s game this morning. He didn’t hold any punches.

Pettine and his staff must select between a prospect so physically, mentally, and emotionally unready for the NFL that he can’t get through a Sharknado-quality hate-watchable preseason game without flipping the bird on national television, and a 28-year old who has started four games in six years with four teams who cannot deliver accurate passes on shallow crossing routes.

It gets worse.

No ordinary corporate-styled team conference room will do for such a decision. Pettine needs to hold a séance. Or an Irish wake. The choice between Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel is the choice between facing inevitable death with incense or Jameson.

Oof. Tanier also takes aim at Manziel’s ability to make something happen with his feet.

Manziel, meanwhile, was helpless. What’s frightening is how slow he looks when running. Redskins linebackers easily tracked him down. Ryan Clark chased him to the sideline on a designed keeper. Clark was too old for the Steelers secondary, where Ike Taylor played with Jack Lambert and fought at Antietam.

A thorough read of the entire piece is required.

Perhaps the most interesting part of Tanier’s comments comes towards the end of the piece when discussing Kyle Shanahan’s responsibility for the mess.

None of the quarterbacks on the field Monday looked fundamentally or mechanically sound. Pettine must be glaring across the decision room at Kyle Shanahan. Son of Shan had two promising young quarterbacks to work with for two years in Washington. One, who arrived as the most athletic and mature can’t-miss quarterback prospect of the last decade, now throws sideline interceptions off his back foot and bruises his inner thigh while scrambling in the open field. The other overthrows everything over the middle while underthrowing the deep sideline.

Oof.

[Related: Making the case for Manziel or Hoyer as the starter]

Making the cases for Johnny Manziel or Brian Hoyer as starter

Manziel and Hoyer

Neither Johnny Manziel nor Brian Hoyer have won the Cleveland Browns quarterback job. You can make the case for either quarterback at this point, mostly because you can’t make a good case for either. Rather than haggle over who gets to plant their flag in the rotting soil that has become the Browns’ QB depth chart, I figured I would just make the case for both guys so we can skip the part where we argue about it. In the end, the only thing I’m sure of is that the Browns need to name someone the starter for week one so whoever it is can be the best prepared they can be.
[Read more...]

Woe are quarterbacks for Ohio teams: While We’re Waiting…

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Happy Tuesday WFNY!

Why did the Browns even have a QB competition? I found myself thinking about that question this morning. Perhaps a good deal of it is hindsight, in having seen a couple of preseason games now, but Johnny Manziel doesn’t look like a QB who is ready for the NFL right now.

Which of course doesn’t mean he won’t eventually be ready. Or that he won’t eventually be a star for his on-field performance and not just his off-field antics. But when the Cleveland Browns selected Manziel in the draft, why did that entitle him to compete for the starting job day one?

It’s not even that Brian Hoyer is an established starting NFL quarterback. He is anything but that, with only three career starts to his name. But Hoyer has been around the NFL for a few years. He’s at least used to the speed of the game, the routine of weekly preparation, and understanding what needs to go into pre-snap reads at this level.

I think above anything else this morning, I find myself mostly disappointed in how poorly Hoyer has looked this preseason. I’m disheartened in general with the offense. But last season, in his limited sample size, Hoyer at least made good, decisive reads and got the ball out of the pocket in a timely manner and showed pretty decent accuracy. So far this preseason, he has looked so much more unsure of himself. It seems, from the outside looking in, like the competition with Manziel has really affected Hoyer. I know a lot of people wanted Manziel to be the starter, but I wanted Hoyer to grab ahold of the starting job and hang onto it for most, if not all, of this season. Unfortunately for both Hoyer and the Browns, that hasn’t happened at all.

The problem the Browns face is that neither guy looks like they’re ready for Week One. I’ve felt all along that a tie between the two QBs would go to Hoyer. Some of the things I’ve seen and heard over the last few weeks had me questioning that. I’ve felt recently like the Browns were giving Manziel every chance to just take the job. But he’s fallen short, too. So now, who’s the starter? Now I’m leaning toward Hoyer getting the nod. Hopefully that would clear his head and allow him to get back to playing at least at an average level like he was last season. If he doesn’t break out of this funk, though, I think his tenure as starting QB will be a short one and we’ll be seeing Johnny Football before we know it. For better or worse.

*****

A bad night for Ohio QBs

As though sitting through a penalty-riddled preseason game in which your team’s two best hopes at QB completely falter isn’t bad enough, during the game we also got word that Ohio State QB Braxton Miller hurt his already ailing shoulder in practice last evening. Braxton initially hurt his shoulder in the Orange Bowl against Clemson last year, requiring him to have off season surgery. Unfortunately, the repaired shoulder was still bothering Braxton all summer and after throwing a downfield pass in a 7-on-7 drill, the shoulder finally gave out.

This is the ultimate gut punch for the Buckeyes who, with an incredibly weak schedule, were eyeing a run at the new NCAA playoff. Barring a Friday Night Lights-esque miracle run, those hopes are now shattered. JT Barrett will now have to do his best to channel his inner Matt Saracen and lead a team shaken to their core over the loss of the two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year (an award only Braxton and Purdue’s Drew Brees have won multiple times).

Speaking purely as a fan, this is one of toughest things to happen to Ohio State in my lifetime. It really feels like the season is over before it even started. If something like this had to happen, you wish it could have happened last season when Kenny Guiton was still around to take over. This is nothing against JT Barrett (or Cardale Jones, should he wind up the starter at some point this season), but Guiton was incredibly experienced and had a phenomenal grasp on the offense. I don’t know what happens now, but with Carlos Hyde in the NFL and Braxton sidelined, the Buckeyes have to replace like 99% of their offense from last season (that percentage is not the real one, just an exaggeration). There will be growing pains with a Freshman QB. We saw it with Terrelle Pryor and Braxton Miller, and I fully expect we’ll see it with JT Barrett.

The good thing for OSU fans is that thanks to parity-less Big Ten conference, the Buckeyes will still be favored in most of their games and they should have enough talent from top to bottom to win a bunch of games and to go to a bowl game. It’s just a bitter pill when this season had higher hopes. Unless Barrett is better than anyone could imagine, the dream of an undefeated season sure feels like it’s now over.

*****

The most overrated Cavalier?

As always, I feel the need to preface this by saying that I’m glad the Cavaliers signed Shawn Marion. I think he can possibly help this season. However, after reading a few reaction pieces, some of which were particularly inaccurate (Marion a career 49% shooter from three? I think not. Try 33%), I feel like we need to slow down a little bit with Marion.

We saw a similar thing happen last year with Jarrett Jack. Now, Marion is a much better player than Jack, so it’s not apples to apples, but last year the Jack signing was so overhyped by Cavs fans, including yours truly (although I did at least recognize before the season that we were over-hyping him). I hope fans can keep expectations with Marion somewhat tempered.

Marion fits an obvious need for the Cavaliers with his ability to defend wings and to fit in small lineups for the Cavs. He’s been a fairly durable, steady, reliable player for a long time. But that last part is the kicker. For a long time. He’s been around the block a few times and has logged a lot of career minutes.

Marion wasn’t brought here to be a shooter, although he has actually improved his three-point shooting in each of the last three seasons. Instead, he’s always been a guy capable of scoring without being the focal point of an offense, which is ideal in Cleveland. He brings playoff experience and veteran leadership. It’s a good signing for the Cavaliers. But at 35 years old, I just want Cavs fans to be aware that this is not the same Shawn Marion you remember from his days with the “Seven Seconds or Less” Phoenix Suns.

*****

New music Tuesday

Finally, we end this WWW as we do every Tuesday with my selection for best new album of the week.

My choice this week is a no-brainer and one of my more anticipated albums of the month: Benjamin Booker’s self-titled debut album. Booker is a New Orleans-based blues/soul/rock musician.

Modern blues music is a funny thing. For a while, it felt like blues music was a dying art form. When I was in high school, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Johnny Lang were a couple younger musicians playing some decent blues music, but it’s just been hard for me to find blue artists that I can connect with.

Enter Benjamin Booker. His intensity and fire on stage, in his vocal delivery, and in his frantic guitar playing is everything I’ve been looking for in this kind of music. He brings almost a punk rock edge to his New Orleans-style blues.

The whole album is really, really good for people who enjoy an eclectic brand of music that brings in a multitude of styles and genres and blends them seamlessly.

*****

That’s all I have this week. Hope everyone enjoys the rest of their week!

 

Browns Preseason Game 2: Winners and Losers

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Oof. Entering Monday night the quarterback competition was really up for grabs, and unfortunately for Browns fans, neither quarterback took the opportunity to win the job.

You know the drill. It’s time for Winners and Losers.

WINNER: Armonty Bryant. The Michael Lombardi seventh-round gamble is having as good a showing in these preseason games as anyone. Bryant earned some time with the starting unit with his performance against the Lions and made the most of his chance on Monday night. He got a sack and put pressure on the QB on at least one other occasion.

WINNER: Phil Taylor and the run defense. Taylor, Ahtyba Rubin, Ishmaa’ily Kitchen, Billy Winn and John Hughes were all big against the run. Taylor swam and ripped past his blocker on several occasions and just blew up the play. He caused the fumble by Alfred Morris even if he didn’t hit him. And how about the goal-line stand? Morris had four chances from three yards out and the Browns stuffed him. This is not a back that gets stuffed very often. He’s a big back with a low center of gravity—a 224-pound wrecking ball—and the Browns stoned him four times. [Read more...]