Tag Archives: rob chudzinski

For Cleveland, There Is Light At The End of The Tunnel!

We meet again…You are seriously encouraged to reply, respond, post, or just jump for joy! I really would like to know how you feel, and what you think about the latest moves by Browns owner Jimmy Haslam. I mean where on this earth can you get a NBA major firing, and a NFL x2 major firing all in the same city. I will tell you where…ONLY IN CLEVELAND BABY!

 

Don’t take that the wrong way I am not making fun of us. In fact, I am overjoyed, giddy, an elated at this news. I believe that both organizations are trying to achieve some level of “sustainability” when it comes to the “hire-ups” and or front office personnel. There is early speculation as to what led to the release of Banner/Lombardi. From the Chud relationship, and his firing to the non-ability to deliver another coach before Pettine was hired for the job. NFL hearsay relates the message that Banner/Lombardi was not well liked in many circles, and that hindered the Browns process of hiring a new coach as some were warned to stay away from those two. This world of professional sports has a life unto its own , and I fully understand how easy it is to get caught up with all the “goings on”(things that happen). Doesn’t some of this seem scripted? It seems unreal and yet it happens before our eyes. I am still wondering how the plot will thicken concerning Mike Brown. Guess I will have to stay tuned in.

 

Change Is Coming

 

It does feel different I must admit. It feels like a new beginning is right there for the Browns. The organization actually mobilizing their forces, and resources to achieve a common goal. Generating a philosophy of team first. Growing a winning culture I dare say in a city that has not had one for so long. Farmer, Scheiner, Pettine, and Shanahan this is the new regime.

 

Farmer brings the football entity to Cleveland that has not been represented at all. The Browns have chased big names…fail. The Browns have gone down the road less traveled…another fail. This time I think they got it right. A football guy for football players. A very astute evaluator of talent. Someone doing whats best for the organization and team. Scheiner has been perceived  in a positive light, and I figure his hand is more to the business side of running things, you know “the numbers man”. Pettine being inherently from the defensive side of the ball appears to be hard-nosed and straight forward, another admirable quality that has not been in Cleveland. With the addition of Kyle Shananhan as the OC it does seem as if the backbone has snapped into place. The only qualm that could go on here is the GM and head coach not being on the same page. As in Pettine might not be Farmers’ guy. My fingers and toes are crossed that everybody will work accordingly to bring the Browns to where they need to be. Contract negotiations and re-signings are the first order of business. Then the important factor of “getting-it-right” placed on this years’ draft.

 

Ray Farmer and Mike Lombardi

 

 

There appears to be something amiss with the Cleveland Cavaliers. I can’t quite put a finger on it, but something seems different. I actually saw a beautifully designed play by (ugh) Mike Brown during the Wizards game that didn’t lead to points, but rather serve the purpose it was supposed too. Towards the of the game with the Cavs allowing the Wiz back into the game. Mike Brown called time out with about 6-8 seconds on the clock and drew up a play of “keep away’ which had me laughing as the Wizards chased our players around until the clock almost expired. A couple free throws later equaled a win for the home team. In the game against Memphis the team shot and shared the ball well, eventually notching another win. I bring those points up to emphasize that the Cavs can more than compete with the other teams. I don’t know what the exact problem or problems were that led to the constant falling down and sliding backwards, but I do know these guys can play. As the trade deadline approaches there are a few possibilities that might have to be looked into?

Does a move of Luol Deng hurt now, but help the future?

Does Jeff Green have meaning to the Cavaliers?

Can David Griffin make any moves or deals?

 

Chime in let me know. Help me out. Or just speak your mind.

And Then There Was One

Much to the chagrin of local television news guys and t-shirt designers the three stooges are no more. Jimmy Haslam dropped a bombshell in Berea as he shuffled Larry and Curly out the door and introduced a new General Manager and team structure for our Cleveland Browns. No longer will we have the condescending tones of Joe Banner or the quarantined silence of Mike Lombardi to soothe our ruffled feathers. They are now following in the footsteps of the legends of Browns past. Names like Clark, Savage, Kokinis, and Holmgren. And like the past departures of those fine football executives, this newest upheaval in Berea is something that we should all celebrate.

There have been indications ever since Joe Banner rode into town on Haslam’s coattails that he was an impediment to the success of the franchise. The league wide negative perception of Joe Banner was something that clearly hurt the Browns. To what extent that perception affected the team can be debated, but there is no doubt that it existed. Quite honestly, the extent doesn’t really matter. If the mere reality of having a certain executive in place handicaps the franchise then that executive needs to be removed. That’s what was happening with Banner and that alone is reason to support his removal. Now, this is the part of the paragraph where I would like to add on to my previous sentiment and make a case as to why Mike Lombardi getting fired is also a good thing. Unfortunately, I’m unable to do this as I can’t confirm that Mike Lombardi has actually been in Cleveland this past year. I’ve heard tale that he does exist and has the ability to speak, but as a professional I can’t run with those facts until I can verify them with two separate sources. For now, we’ll just have to go on faith and be happy that Mike Lombardi is no longer doing whatever job he has allegedly been doing this past year.

Aside from Banner and Lombardi no longer running things, the most exciting thing to come out of this front office reshuffling is the new structure that has been put in place. No longer is there some convoluted decision-by-committee-but-Joe-Banner-actually-has-the-final-say dynamic being pushed in the front office. Ray Farmer will decide the 53 man roster. Mike Pettine will decide which 45 guys play on Sundays. Alec Scheiner will run the business side of things. And all will report to the owner. For a franchise that has tried every kind of dysfunctional power structure over the past 15 years, this new set up is a breath of fresh air. It probably seems like an obviously simple fix for pretty much every other fanbase and organization in the NFL, but I’m dead serious when I say that the Browns merely shifting to a conventional team structure is a monumental step forward. And that doesn’t even count what I see as noticeable upgrades at each of the three spots that atop the organizational depth chart. I obviously haven’t been able to write about Mike Pettine here yet as we just launched, but I genuinely like the hire and feel it’s the best move the Browns have made at Head Coach since Butch. Not that that is exactly the highest of praise considering the guys hired in between but I do really like what I’ve seen and heard. There’s also Ray Farmer who, by all accounts, is highly respected around the league and thought of as an up and comer. And he was reportedly at the Senior Bowl, which sadly already sets him apart from his two most recent predecessors. And we also have Alec Scheiner as President who, well, who runs the business side. And that’s it. He seems really bright, good at his job, and he won’t have anything to do with picking players. This also, sadly, is something that sets him apart from his two most recent predecessors. These three guys are reason to be excited. Reason to be optimistic for the Browns. There is, however, one thing that still makes me uneasy. The man that those three will be reporting to is still Jimmy Haslam.

As the weeks and months go on it will probably become more and more apparent how I feel about the current steward of the Cleveland Browns. For now, I will just say that I won’t be applying for President of the Jimmy Haslam fan club any time soon. However, I’ll give him credit for his removal of Banner and Lombardi just like I did for his firing of Chud a few weeks ago. In both cases he saw that something wasn’t working and instead of drawing it out and setting things back even more, he cut bait and went a different direction. It would be fair to point out that he decided to hire all those people only a year ago, but at least he was willing to make the tough decisions and admit he was wrong. Well, at least kind of. While his actions certainly seem to indicate significant errors on his part, you would be hard pressed to get him to actually admit it. Which brings me to the absurdity of the press conference introducing Ray Farmer as General Manager. Haslam time and again talked about how great of a football mind Mike Lombardi has, how Joe Banner agreed that it was time for him to leave, and he again blamed the media for the negative perception of the Browns. The fact that Haslam would think that any Browns fan would buy into any of those things is borderline insulting. And it’s just another example of why I have less and less faith in him every time I hear him talk. Not to mention that we are apparently never allowed to ask about the federal investigation that could potentially land the owner of our football team in federal prison.

Regardless of my natural predisposition to not like Jimmy Haslam or the ever present chance that the next time we see him he’ll be waddling down a hallway in an orange jumpsuit, the dismissals of Joe Banner and Mike Lombardi are positive steps for the Browns. For one day the team undeniably improved and Haslam does deserves credit for that. Two of the stooges are gone. And if we’re going to be stuck with the third one, at least he wants to win.

Sad State of Cleveland Affairs

Cleveland continually takes it on the chin.  There is no other way to explain it.  If the decision makers of our sports franchises aren’t acting impulsively then they are ignorantly loyal to a fault continually perpetuating the same damn cycle.  Here’s one angle: The Browns could not wait for a Super Bowl caliber coach, the Cavaliers are the joke of the NBA and the Indians, much like their off-season roster moves, are nonexistent.  And so the page turns for the Mistake on the Lake.

But that is simply the pessimistic view.  I consider myself a realist, stuck in purgatory until I get off the fence and lean one way or another.  Think I am joking?  How many times have you heard your friends say they were “guardedly optimistic” about a recent hiring or signing?  As Clevelanders we have conditioned ourselves for failure and have to justify even the slightest bit of mediocrity.  That’s the worst part.  I’m neither in heaven nor hell and one could argue that predicament is worse than anything.  Some days I pine for the rapture.  Others I pray for the messiah.  Usually, I wake up in the purgatory of professional sports fanatics simply know as Cleveland, or OIC to the locals.

If you had not guessed it by now from that introduction, I am not in a very good mood.  I’m not even sure there will be a main thesis to this article other than to vent my frustrations with a pinch of alternative perspective thrown in the mix.  To be honest, I am not even mad at the Cleveland franchises despite one of the most chaotic stretches of ineptitude that I have witnessed in my thirty-three years on this planet.  I am angry with the fans.  They continually are a bone of contention with me.

Let’s get a quick rundown.  The Cavaliers are a complete embarrassment, both nationally and locally.  It takes a helluva lot for this media in Cleveland to stand up and start questioning an organization.  Why you ask?  Probably for stupid reasons like this:

Personally, I did not think it could have gotten any lower than the nationally televised loss to the New York Knicks on January 30th.  Au contraire, Marcus.  I see your NY debacle and raise you a Los Angeles Lakers clusterf^#> six days later on your home court.  Less than 24 hours later Chris Grant was shown the door.

Too bad Chris Grant can’t hit the restart button because he should be questioning his selection of Kyrie Irving.  Not from a basketball perspective but because of maturity.  Think what you want about this next statement: I have been told (everyone in Cleveland has “a guy”) that much of the rumored sophomoric incidents that have been attributed to Dion Waiters were allegedly Kyrie Irving.  Dude is mega talented but more concerned with his brand than anything else.  Think I am out of line?  Go back and listen to his most recent pressers.  His “brand” was a theme.  But I digress.

And it’s not like the Browns have been much better.  They fired a coach after one season.  One!  Normally I would not be able to comprehend that idea but I guess I should not be surprised.  The current coach of the Cavs was fired by the Lakers 5 games into their season (that one is still funny to reminisce about).  Nonetheless, firing a football coach after one season kinda puts the organization in the national crosshairs for criticism.  Their rundown of Rob Chudzinski, Mike Pettine, Josh McDaniels, and the Dan Quinn saga only exacerbates their national issues.

[Quick tangent here for all those yahoos that were up in arms about the Browns not waiting on Dan Quinn.  I pose an alternative perspective.  Mike Pettine was on record stating he would not have waited until after the Super Bowl for Cleveland’s response.  Furthermore, what if (1) Dan Quinn had turned down Cleveland’s offer, or (2) Peyton Manning hung 49 points on the vaunted Quinn defense?  In both scenarios you’re screwed.  Then what, start over?  My recommendation is to think before you tweet shenanigans or call a sport stalk radio station regurgitating shock jock nonsense.]

Plainly stated, the Browns are the dumpster fire of the NFL.  As the original twitter creator of this phrase (to the best of my knowledge) I can say it proudly when I say that this organization has been serving up a “poop sandwich” to its fans since 1999 — over 1 billion served.  And the fans line up around the corner for second helpings deeply rooted in 1980s loyalty and fear the team will be taken away again.  Your ignorance and blinders sicken me as a real fan.

It’s February in Cleveland so technically the Indians do not exist to the rank-and-file fans until 42,000 of them pack Progressive Field on opening day only to return for fireworks, promos of 1990s players and warmer weather.  I will save my Indians thoughts for a near future article but here is the bottom line: they are doomed to fail in most fans’ eyes because of too lofty expectations created from exceeding public perception in 2013.

Do not get me wrong.  I am not a narcissistic jackass… well maybe I am.  But as  I write this I am fully aware that I am part of the problem in this city.  As the saying goes, this Cleveland, is why we cannot have nice things.

The Curious Case of Greg Little

Few players raised the collective blood pressure of the Cleveland Browns’ faithful this past season the way Davone Bess did. What was supposed to be a veteran presence and sure set of hands to calm Brandon Weeden’s lack of pocket presence and happy feet had the exact opposite effect. The former Miami Dolphin and five-year pro led the league with the highest drop percentage for a wide receiver and his off-the-field problems are well publicized and still very much going on. Dude’s obviously got some issues and stuff to work out.

 

But lost in the wake of Bess’s trainwreck of a season and Josh Gordon’s breakout year, was UNC-product Greg Little’s lackluster third year in the NFL. Little posted career-low stats in both yardage and TDs(465 and two) while dropping six passes to his 99 targets. On a team really looking for a good WR2 to complement the supernova that was Gordon this past season, Little spent the 2013 season consistently showing that he is not going to be that guy.

 

I’ve fan-hated Little since before it was cool, back in his UNC Tar-hole days(Go Wolfpack!) when he pulled this move on poor freshman DB Jarvis Byrd:

 

I take some satisfaction that my alma mater swept Little and former Browns’ coach Butch Davis the four years Little was in Chapel Hill. Call it schadenfreude, maybe. Plus, the guy apparently parked everywhere except the dean’s front lawn while in school and got away with it.

 

Little put up solid numbers while in this three eligible years at UNC and finished his junior season with 166 rushing yards, 724 receiving yards and 222 kickoff return yards. He did not play his senior season in 2010 after being ruled ineligible by the NCAA for lying to investigators about receiving travel accommodations and jewelry.  Though a little on the shorter side, his combination of size and speed(6’2”, 220 lbs and a 4.53-second 40-yard dash time) had NFL-potential written all over it:

 

Little was chosen by the Browns in the second round of the 2010 NFL draft, with the 59th overall pick. Little finished the 2011 season leading the Browns in catches and receiving yards, and finished second in catches amongst rookies behind A.J. Green. Though his numbers weren’t exactly setting the world on fire(12 dropped balls and only two TDs), he showed some flashes of what he could do if given touches and space.

Check out this Drake-infused sample of his 2011 work:

 

The 2012 season saw both his catches and receiving yards decline, confounding fans and coaches alike. He finished with 53 receptions for 647 yards and four TDs. Again, six dropped passes to his 92 targets left him with an unsavory percentage. Before the 2013 season began, those same fans and coaches were encouraged to hear that Little and Weeden spent the summer working out and putting in the effort to get better. We all know how that turned out, and Greg did little(I’ll see myself out) to dispel the notion that he’s a drop-machine in 2013.

When reports surfaced after the firing of Chud that the Browns’ brass wanted him to release Little or other underperforming Browns players and Chud refused, many fans were probably wondering what Chud was thinking. Perhaps he saw something in Little that we fans haven’t yet–the numbers certainly tell a different story. Who knows how much time Little has left to prove himself at FirstEnergy Stadium, or even if he gets another chance.

Cleveland Browns Carousel: More Than A Fling?

All I wanted for my birthday was a full and finalized Cleveland Browns coaching staff.

The Browns, as is their habit of getting a fan’s hopes up, then remembering they don’t really give a bulldog’s backside about winning, then realizing that they should probably try and appease the people with the butts that they have to put in the seats, have half-wrapped an already-used package for me, and included a card that said, “Happy New Year, 2002 / 2007”.

This “lovely” package comes to me after the Browns ran former head coach Rob Chudzinski out on a rail, a move I found ridiculously knee-jerk and largely unfair. Yes, Chud “steered” the Browns to a 4-12 record in 2013. A kitten could’ve probably done that on pure cuteness and threat of tiny claws.

Browns' Kitten Coach
Thankfully this didn’t come to pass, but it would’ve been cute… (Image credit to sportspickle.com)

However, I feel like Chud, Norv Turner, and Ray Horton were on the border of something decent. Not good, but decent. I mean, there were very few true blow-out losses in the ’13 season, and the team was in several games they probably shouldn’t have been in. To say that we were dealing with a fluid situation at quarterback and running back is being Mother Theresa and Pope Francis levels of kind. The defense was overall well above average, but was gassed near the end of the season as the secondary was a bit of an issue (also another understatement from watching some of the games). Six Browns went to and played in the Fantasy Football Bowl, and they did quite well. There were several bright spots on this team throughout the year, but not enough consistency.

The front office solved that issue by blowing up the whole of the coaching staff, ensuring that the lack of consistency continued.

Bravo, Stooges. Bravo.

But even in the bleakness that is considered the norm of Cleveland sports, we try to put the past behind us, and look towards the future. Well, unless your name is Art Modell, LeBron James, Michael Jordan, John Elway…

Anyway, we look towards the future, and the name we’ve finally come to is Mike Pettine. Pettine, a defensive mind from the New York Jets and (most recently) the Buffalo Bills, looks like one of those guys that you just don’t want to mess with. The Twitter was alight with comparisons to one WWE wrestler:

Or another:

Or a slash-fic wet dream of the combination of the two:

I myself likened him to Jesse “The Body” Ventura of gubernatorial old, before he went completely conspiracy crazy.

"The Body" Didn't Mess Around...
Tell me to say “Barkevious Mingo” one more time… “The Body” dares you… (Image courtesy of prowrestling.wikia.com)

 

The Browns press conference to announce Pettine’s hiring was, of course, the talk around town, even up til now. The man who said that he “wasn’t trying to win press conferences” said all the right things. The man who wasn’t comfortable being in the limelight made himself comfortable by talking about the talent the team has, talking about needing to “get a little bloody” in the AFC North, and talking about how the team has to be held accountable and start bucking the losing attitude that seems to have invaded the locker room (and possibly spelled doom for Chud after the team ‘gave up’ last season).

On the surface, I was simply happy that the Browns finally got a guy… Any guy… To fill the role so that this monstrosity of rebuilding could begin.

Again.

However, diving a little deeper into the presser (which I sadly didn’t see live), I’m liking what Pettine is saying. Yes, I know as Browns fans we’ve heard the good song-and-dance before, but there’s something a little different about this one. Maybe it’s the fact that he’s not an “Ohio guy”; several of our former coaches had some sort of past connections to the team, and that might have allowed them some latitude in their minds. There’s also the fact that Pettine is coming out of a defensive system in Buffalo that was actually pretty good in 2013. Talent-wise, I feel the Browns are as good or a bit better than the Buffalo staff was, which bodes well for a Browns defense that was (as I mentioned previously) a good squad. Pettine’s hire, along with pivotal pieces he brought with him from his Buffalo staff (including the Browns’ new DC Jim O’Neil), gives me the feeling like the defense is set up for an improved year next year. So long as the secondary gets addressed, either by scheme or personnel changes, there’s a lot of hope for avoiding some of the last-chance victories our opponents had like last year.

The big piece to the puzzle, unsolved until Saturday, was the offensive coordinator. The offense last year was, in a word, rubbish. There was no consistency, going through several quarterbacks and a stable of runners in 16 games. There was also the matter of the majority of the receiving corps underachieving horribly, with Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron the only real threats. Now we have Kyle Shanahan, formerly of the Washington Redskins, onboard as our OC.

I am a supreme fan of this hire. While some of the ‘pundits’ were questioning how well the interview with Shanahan went, Pettine and the Browns front office apparently saw enough good to bring Shanahan onboard. The big thing on this is that we might finally get some stability in the quarterback position, though the name might not be known right now. The leader in the clubhouse (at least someone already on our roster) would likely be Brian Hoyer, who seems to be recovering decently from ACL surgery. However, the likelihood everyone seems to be leaning towards is the drafting of Johnny Manziel with the first of the Browns’ two first-round draft picks. With either man at the helm, the Browns under Shanahan get the good, mobile quarterback that was part of the success the Redskins under Shanahan and with RG3 in command.

There’s also the matter of running backs, which have been a particular weakness for this team. McGahee is definitely not the answer going forward, nor do I feel that Ogbonnaya is the first choice. I think Fozzy Whittaker is an intriguing choice moving forward, but I feel (and others are thinking) that, once again the Browns will be drafting a running back early. Seems to be a repeat of recent years, but… This time I think we’ve got some people that might actually have some plans, some know-how on the who and what for doing it their way, and doing it well.

So am I happy with my birthday present?

The packaging and toys look pretty in the box.

Too bad assembly won’t happen until Training Camp.

Cleveland Sports Week in Review: We're Dancing All-Night Doing the Curly Shuffle!

 

Hello.

 

Can you feel the void, Cleveland? The emptiness. The blackness. The desolation. There is no more football being played here, at least not for a long time. Not like this is anything new, there hasn’t been Browns football in January anywhere since 2003, and January football in Cleveland since what, the mid 1990’s? It’s a normal right of passage around here, fine, but that doesn’t mean that the transition from Gameday to nothingness on Sundays is any easier. It sucks. It sucked last season, it sucked the season before that, and it sucked twelve seasons ago. Such is life as a Browns fan…

 

That does not mean, however, that there’s no Browns news to talk about, because there is. The search for Rob Chudzinski’s replacement is in full-swing, and we’ll discuss that – at length – of course. Also, we’ll look at the “Press Conference Heard ‘Round the World” and talk about the media, access, and hiding behind social media comments in an NFL press conference. Oh, and the Cavs and whatever the hell they’re doing…we’ll get in to them a bit as well.

 

All that and the Week in Pictures as the Cleveland Sports Week in Review: We’re Dancing All-Night Doing the Curly Shuffle! turns the volume up to 10 and gets pumping as we brace for the coldest air to hit Northeast Ohio in 20 years…right now.

 

 

Cleveland Browns

 

Yeah, I was kinda stunned too.

 

 

 

 

Dan DeRoos, news reporter for the local TMZ CBS affiliate WOIO is the reporter in the video who asked, possibly, the dumbest question in the history of dumb press conference questions. It’s one thing to bring a list of “hit piece” Facebook comments to the event with the intention of letting Joe Banner and Jimmy Haslam know what the fans are really saying about their decision to fire Rob Chudzinski after only one season or whatever, but it’s another to then rephrase a question in your own words with the sole purpose of making a name for yourself by asking Banner, Haslam, and (by proxy) Lombardi “Whether or not the “3 Stooges” were running the Cleveland Browns?”.

 

I’d like to say that the fan base was divided on this issue, and that people were adamant on both sides of the argument regarding the professionalism and appropriateness of what went down Monday in Berea…but that’s simply not the case. As it turns out, long-suffering Browns fans have been looking for a champion, and apparently Mr. DeRoos fits the bill quite nicely.

 

https://twitter.com/HolmgrenFatAss/status/418051175850573825

 

Despite the rather convincing win in the PR column for Dan DeRoos and his decision to hide behind Facebook comments in an attempt to make a name for himself, I feel that a stunt like this does nothing but hurt the already difficult blight of the blogosphere in their attempt to legitimize themselves in the eyes of the NFL. Stay with me for a minute here:

 

The Browns (and the NFL as a whole) are, without question, the most difficult entity to cover for the non-traditional media. “non-traditional” meaning people like yours truly, but also encompassing entities like Waiting for Next Year, Dawg Pound Daily, cover32, and More Than a Fan…non-traditional sports “media” sites that take themselves seriously, and have, literally, zero access to the Browns in any meaningful way. It has been a long-standing rule for the Browns to only credential traditional media outlets (think local TV, radio, newspapers), and ignore any other media source that originates locally or nationally. The Indians and the Cavaliers, by the way, are far more open in embracing non-traditional media sources, and will credential and grant access to established Internet sites and reporters with cautious, but open-minded, regularity. The Browns though…that’s a locked vault without some kind of traditional media tie-in. A 1980’s attitude doing business in 2014…and it’s as backwards as it sounds.

 

So when someone who is not a “sports guy” (his words) gets into a Browns press conference and hides behind social media to embarrass the brain trust of the team, no matter how deserved it was, all I see that accomplishing is justifying an already frustratingly archaic policy regarding team coverage. The fact that Dan DeRoos used social media as a weapon is damaging, since most non-traditional media outlets rely heavily on social media to get the word out regarding them and their coverage. At the very least, it muddies the waters a bit, not that there was a ton of progress being made in that area anyway, but now you can basically rule-out any non-traditional media outlet getting any meaningful access to the Browns for the foreseeable  future as the Browns will, no doubt, lock their media events and access down even further than it already was, in order to prevent this kind of thing from happening again. And that sucks.

 

I realize that a lot of you are probably thinking that my take on this is completely self-serving, and I guess as the host of a Browns-centered Podcast and writer at a Cleveland-centered sports website that it probably is to a point, but for as much as everyone complains about the horrific reporting that gets done about the Browns day-in and day-out from the traditional media embedded with the team, you can pretty much guarantee now that the net will not be widening to be more inclusive to non-traditional outlets anytime in the near future, I can promise you that.

 

So fine. Dan DeRoos gets his name in lights for a few days. Channel 19 gets a little more notoriety as a television news outlet that isn’t “afraid” to ask the “tough questions” and whatever, and Internet journalism gets set back years in the process. Yay. I don’t expect tears from traditional media, after all, since it’s in their best interest to discredit and otherwise eliminate the new media, but for Pete’s sake…those Facebook questions accomplished nothing of substance, outside of changing the shade of Jimmy Haslam’s skin color to a different shade of red.

 

So stand and cheer for Dan DeRoos and TMZ 19 if you want too, but understand that by doing so, you’re committing yourself to another year or two of this:

 

 

So…yeah…keep supporting stupid. Your call Cleveland.

 

 

Now, speaking of the Browns coaching search, here’s the latest list of *possible* candidates for the job, compiled from various sources:

 

Josh McDaniels

New England Patriots Offensive Coordinator

 

https://twitter.com/BobbyBigWheel/status/419656945620897792

 

Gus Malzahn

Head Coach, Auburn Tigers

 

 

James Franklin

Head Coach, Vanderbilt Commodores

 

 

Todd Bowles

Arizona Cardinals Defensive Coordinator

 

 

Bob Stoops

Head Coach, Oklahoma Sooners

 

https://twitter.com/pcnapplegate/status/419700487303081984

https://twitter.com/jmings3/status/419667432140054528

 

Dan Quinn

Seattle Seahawks Defensive Coordinator

 

https://twitter.com/MuscularSon/status/418538611760316416

 

 

My pick? McDaniels. Josh’s main problem in Denver, as far as I can tell, was his inability to pick the players. He was in waaaay over his head wearing both the head football coach hat and the general manager hat at the same time. Without that stress in Cleveland, I think he could be a very successful frontman for the football team, and could take the Browns to places they hasn’t been in almost 30 years. To me, it’s a no-brainer, so it’ll probably be someone else…

 

Last note on the Browns, kinda….my Browns podcast The Orange and Brown Breakdown (with co-host Kate Arhar) just got linked from Cleveland.com, a fact we’re pretty proud of. If you have a second, check-out the last episode FIRED! either on MTAF.tv, iTunes, Stitcher, or the Zune Marketplace. Let me know what you think! We’re putting together our off-season broadcast schedule right now, so subscribe to it through your podcast client of choice and thanks a heap to the guys at Cleveland.com for the shout-out!

 

Now…onto the Cavaliers.

 

 

 

Cleveland Cavaliers

 

My opinion on the Cavaliers is starting to change…and not for the better, unfortunately.

 

Up until now, I was content to let the Cavs work through their problems on a reasonable time table. I know that Mike Brown has brought an entirely new way of looking at basketball to the team (defense first), and I’ve used the term “Bringing law to the lawless” before to describe what the Cavs are trying to do right now, which to me still sums it up quite nicely. And while I didn’t expect miracles early on, I did think we’d be farther along by now then we are. I have until recently been under the opinion that eventually, the players would buy in to a defense-first system, and that the pieces would eventually come together and that the Cavs would still, despite a really rough start, be able to piece together a pretty decent season, all things considered.

 

Yeah….no.

 

 

There is something wrong here. Something very wrong. I don’t know if it’s a chemistry issue between Dion Waiters and Kyrie Irving, Mike Brown and Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters and Mike Brown, Anthony Bennett and his delicate psyche, Andrew Bynum and everybody, or whatever…but it’s becoming more and more clear that this roster has got to be modified in some way in order for things to get better.

 

I am a believer in Chris Grant, Anthony Bennett at #1 non-withstanding, so I do think that the Cavs will, eventually, figure this thing out. I’m not smart enough to know how or when, but I know think that they will eventually turn this ship around and get the team on track.

 

 

While we were all excited about Andrew Bynum, it’s obvious now that he’s never going to play for the Cavaliers again in any capacity, and whether they get Pau Gasol, Richard Jefferson, or a 3-pack of Hanes jockey shorts in return, that’s obviously going to be a plus. It’s really too bad that whatever happened with Bynum here happened, because just his being here was, in my mind, a step forward for the Cavs in getting to where they want to go. Young seven-foot big men with a skill set like Bynum has had don’t exactly grow on trees. Unfortunately, it is what it is, and the experiment was an abstract failure. Still, it’s not like any of you were against the Cavaliers signing Bynum, and I’d reckon that every one of you would have made the exact same signing given the same situation, so blasting Chris Grant for taking a flyer on the guy isn’t really fair. They went for broke, came-up with a face full of dirt, and are now actively trying to fix the mistake…much to the chagrin of Laker fan, I might add.

 

https://twitter.com/mponique/status/419732031170678784

 

So stay tuned, it’s likely the resolution to the Andrew Bynum situation will become apparent by Tuesday at the latest – whether or not we’re gonna trade him, release him, or keep him stuffed in a closet. How Chris Grant handles this situation may be very important come review time with Dan Gilbert. As much as I like Chris Grant, I think he needs a few more feathers in the cap if he wants to keep his job past this season. Can’t lose forever, you know.

 

https://twitter.com/augustak1234/status/417467780913713152

 

That’s the spirit!

 

 

 Cleveland Sports Week in Pictures

 

https://twitter.com/Foot_Basket/status/418927533380231168

 

See you guys next week!

 

 

 

On The Cleveland Browns and Their Three Stooges

I know you’ve missed me, so let me say Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, and Happy New Year. Josh[1. Well, I NEVER] keeps me busy, so that’s about how long it’s been since I’ve written in this space.

This week, the Cleveland Browns fell apart. The team has been on a downward spiral since the bye week, but it all came crashing down Sunday during…and after the game versus the Steelers. I have no dog in this fight, but I’ll say the Cleveland Browns are a complete and total disaster, and if they aren’t, then management isn’t doing anything to show anyone otherwise.

Divorce: I Am Divorcing The Cleveland Browns

After being spanked by the Steelers, the team fired first year head coach Rob Chudzinski (I still won’t call him Chud, he’s 45), who proceeded to leave the team’s headquarters in Berea and run at least one traffic light. I can’t believe that happened.

The traffic light, not the firing.

On Monday, Chudzinski, Banner, and Haslam (not together of course) sat down with the media to explain what happened. Frankly, I’m not sure if any of the three of them knew what happened.

Here’s what it looks like, the Browns hired someone who they quickly decided he wasn’t the right fit and sent him home for three years. I’m good with this. This type of thing happens in the real world. Chudzinski didn’t get past his probation period, except in this instance he’ll get somewhere around $10 million to stay away.

In my opinion, if Haslam didn’t think Chudzinski was the right guy, then he did the smart the thing by firing him. He’s obviously OK with the perception that the team doesn’t have a clue as to what to do with its head coaching position. I’ll guess nothing could be further from the truth.

Haslam can obviously do whatever he wants to with his money, but the truth is the fans are upset. They don’t like a first year coach being fired, and many don’t seem to like the list of potential coaches. Fans have been committed to this organization since its return in 1999 through the countless coaching, quarterback and regime changes and it’s time for Haslam to put his money where his mouth is.

This can mean only two things:

  1. The Browns MUST make the playoffs next year.
  2. The Browns MUST find a coach and stick with him for a significant period of time.

There is a chance the Browns can accomplish both, but history clearly suggests  they can’t do anything but poop themselves.

If the playoffs or “significant improvement” don’t happen, then fans need to vote with the only instrument they really have: their dollars. It is time for fans to make the organization remember who buys tickets and merchandise, and who listens to hours of terrible programming on the radio.

Vote with your dollars. If that means there is a blackout or two, then so be it.

What’s your stake?: Shareholders Vs. Stakeholders: Browns Fans Know Your Role

It’s time for the “best fans in football,” to become the smartest fans in football. If you like giving your money and time away to watch a shitty product every week, then don’t demand change. But if you are a smart, and If the team won’t listen to your anger on social media, then don’t show up on Sunday’s.

Am I Browns fan? Nope, but I picked them to win eight games this year. They did not. They were absolute garbage.

“Same old browns”

The Three Stooges

At Monday’s press conference WOIO’s Dan DeRoos asked Haslam if he, Banner and Lombardi were the Three Stooges. DeRoos said the question came from a post on Facebook. People became upset. Explain why? I, for one, and thrilled to have someone in the media ask a difficult question. If that question spurs change or causes management to pay attention, then DeRoos deserves praise.

You can argue if the way in which he did it was nice, but frankly, I don’t care. It’s a fair question that many fans want to hear and it deserved an answer.

Admit it, you want to buy this.

How about instead of having the media ask the question, Haslam and Company invite 100 season ticket holders to Berea and allow them to ask whatever they want? I’m guessing the same question would have come up, and in even less polite terms.

If you think Dan DeRoos is more of an embarrassment than what the Browns have put on the field since 1999, then you are stupid. At this point, I don’t even know if the three guys running the Browns franchise are good enough to be compared to the Stooges, but we’ll find out soon with their next coaching hire.

Which is more embarrassing, having someone publicly ask your owner if he’s part of the Three Stooges, or having your football team win less than six football games for the sixth year in a row?

Exactly.

Browns fans deserve better. Demand it, and demand that if Haslam has to fire Banner and Lombardi to get the right coaches and players in here that he do it. If Haslam really cares about winning, he’ll do it in a heartbeat.

Photo from TeeSpring

 

 

 

Cleveland Sports Week in Review: I Couldn’t Make This Stuff Up If I Tried

 

Hello.

 

Well then. How was your week? Good? Mine was too, thanks for asking. Before we get into all the juicy stuff that happened last week in the world of Cleveland sports, an announcement. This is the last Monday night Week in Review now that the Browns season is over. Starting next week, the Review shifts back to Sundays (by noon-ish) where it belongs. I know there’s a few of you out there that set your off-line reader to download the article to read at your leisure, and I really do love you people that do that, so I just wanted to make sure everyone knew in advance, so that those of you that care had a chance to adjust your settings.

 

Okay? Great. Now for the week that was.

 

It’s been a long time since we had a weirder week in Cleveland sports, I’ll say that. I’d probably have to go all the way back to July 2010 and the whole Lebron free-agency-team-auditioning-downtown-debacle-thingy to find a week that was even comparable to the last seven days around here, and I’m not really sure that even that lines up that well, honestly. The games were the games, fine, but there were two events specifically that defined the sports scene in this town pretty well over the past week, if not forever symbolically, and that’s what I’m going to focus on here.

 

  1.  Andrew Bynum getting suspended and basically kicked-off the Cavs, rather suddenly.
  2. The Browns firing first-year head coach Rob Chudzinski, again, rather suddenly.

 

We’re gonna break down these two events as we recap the (crappy) sports landscape in Cleveland, trade some opinions with each other on the matter, talk (untrue) rumors (and probably get Josh into a lot of trouble for doing it), recap the week in pictures, and more as the Cleveland Sports Week in Review: I Couldn’t Make This Stuff Up If I Tried gets rolling on a cold, snowy night here in Downtown Cleveland…and we’re going to start the festivities…and believe me, they are festivities…right now.

 

 

Cleveland Browns

 

It was just supposed to be just another “last game of the season” type contest. Really. The 4-11 Cleveland Browns were traveling to Pittsburgh for a regular season finale against the Steelers with really nothing to play for of note, save for an obscure record regarding beating every team in the AFC North within the same season, and a chance at knocking the Steelers out of the playoffs with a win. Typical fare.

 

Browns fans, as usual, were pissed-off because their team had underachieved this season yet again, but were approaching the Steelers game with quiet optimism, and were actually excited for a chance to potentially ruin the Steelers season, by supplying the leather boot that would kick the Steelers (officially) out of the AFC playoff picture in 2013.

 

 

Just a typical late-season NFL Sunday in Cleveland, right?

 

Well it was. Until…

 

 

And with that, a simple tweet accompanied by a 15 second tv hit authored and performed by respected NFL journalist and inside man Chris Mortensen on a possible situation brewing in our fine city, people started asking questions, quite confused with what they had just seen and/or read. The very hint of problems with the head coach of the Browns, and possible job security issues in the position, was a shot out of the dark for all involved.

 

 

As the hubbub over Chris Mortensen’s blindside-smashing tweet started to pick-up a bit, the local Browns press decided that it was time to do what they do best and start rephrasing and retweeting the national guys who were carrying the story up to this point.

 

 

Now, before we continue on with the recap, just a quick question. What, exactly, do these beat reporters get paid for? I’m not trying to be facetious here, and I’m not trying to be mean. The question isn’t even rhetorical, I really want to know. What do our Browns beat reports actually get paid to do? Is it to retweet other news gathering agencies and get seemingly unnecessary access to the coaches and players? Or is it to break news? Or is it both? I’m curious, because between Grossi, Cabot, and Ruiter, nobody has broken anything of substance on the Browns all year. Seriously, not one story that we didn’t already know. Everything juicy, relevant, or even partially interesting has come from a national source first, and then filtered through one of those three.

 

And I ask what they get paid for, again not to be mean or rhetorical, but because I’m fairly certain that an intern can sit on a Macbook with Twitter open all day and RT Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter (adding a tiny bit of context) for substantially less money than these bozos are making. The intern could even crank out some articles that are two-hours late and dwarfed by national coverage anyway by the time they’re published, just like these beat reporters do. Be honest here, is there anyone reading this that gets their up-to-date Browns news and info from blogs written by Tony Grossi on ESPNCleveland.com? Anyone? Anyone? Right, me either. I really don’t understand why or how the bosses at ESPN Cleveland, CBS Radio, and the Plain Dealer put up with the three laziest high-profile beat reporters in the NFL, I truly don’t. Rob Chudzinski was determined by the Browns to be fired Saturday, according to reports. Yet, none of our ace beat reporters even smelled this story until Chris Mortensen smacked them in the face with it like it was a giant tuna from a studio 1000 miles away in Connecticut. And as a fan, I’m insulted that the local media companies even attempt to pass Ruiter, Cabot, and Grossi off as “insiders”, when the only thing that they’re “inside” of is how easily they’re stealing money from their employers for not doing a damn thing but not get to watch practice every day, scribble some very generic personal interest stories into WordPress from the comfy-cozy Browns media room, and get a free ticket to every football game to sit in the press box. Nobody is breaking news…nobody is delivering anything of substance for their paycheck. They don’t even try. They’re pathetic, and the sooner we get some component people covering the Cleveland Browns around here, the sooner every fan with an Internet connection will stop laughing at the pathetic coverage afforded the team by hacks like Grossi, Cabot, and Ruiter. It’s just as embarrassing as the team, quite frankly.

 

Alright, anyways…Back to it.

 

So the game went on with rumors swirling about the future of Browns field boss Rob Chudzinski, and unfortunately for all involved, followed a familiar pattern. That is to say, bad QB play, horrible defense, and questionable coaching decisions resulting in yet another loss (20-7) on a cold and rainy day in Pittsburgh. But the game wasn’t the story on this day, it was what happened next.

 

 

I’m not even sure where everything went from here, it was kinda crazy. However, there were some notable exchanges with fans/players on social media that are worth taking a look at, like this exchange between Mike Silver from nfl.com and Browns OL Jason Pinkston.

 

https://twitter.com/JasonPinkstonOL/status/417437922883686400

https://twitter.com/JasonPinkstonOL/status/417442304534671360

https://twitter.com/JasonPinkstonOL/status/417438513529774080

https://twitter.com/JasonPinkstonOL/status/417462939247845376

https://twitter.com/JasonPinkstonOL/status/417463367096229889

https://twitter.com/JasonPinkstonOL/status/417464811388018689

 

Yeah…that didn’t go so well for Pink, did it? Silver’s an assassin.

 

And then there’s my exchange with ESPN’s Pat McManamon, which was far less contentious, but relevant in that yet another local reporter was hoodwinked and completely clueless regarding the big story of the day, despite the growing storm on the national outlets about it – one of which employs Mr. McManamon. This was all happening directly under these people’s noses, mind you. This is their home beat.

 

 

I like Pat, but he was obviously wrong here, but I think his being wrong is telling. This story was almost entirely broken by national reporters, and the local beat guys and various Browns reporters like McManamon had absolutely no clue regarding what was happening within the Browns front office – to the point that some were coming out fairly strong in denial of the story. I again harken back to my rant earlier about Browns beat reporters…who is actually reporting on the team, and who is using the “affiliation” with a major sports media outlet as a free ticket and privilege resource? It’s a fair question, given how this story unfolded thousands of miles away from the epicenter, be it Cleveland or Pittsburgh.

 

Once the news was confirmed that Chudzinski was out as Browns coach, the fans…well…I’ll just let you take over from here.

 

https://twitter.com/zimbardi10/status/417487678561878016

https://twitter.com/PavMP223/status/417505668556267520

 

Man, what is it with women tweeters and Brandon Weeden? Guess chicks don’t dig the ginger, I dunno. Harsh.

 

The question that a lot of Browns fans had about the firing of Cudzinski is a simple one. Why? Why did the Browns fire a coach that had no quarterback to play, no running game to work the clock, no defense in the second half of the season to hold on to any leads, and seemingly no support from the front office in changing any of that by bringing decent players to fill those roles.

 

 

Why was a pretty good question, and one that was answered today (Tuesday) in a press conference that can be found at the link below:

 

http://www.clevelandbrowns.com/media-center/videos/Haslam-and-Banner-Address-Coaching-Change/2b393ab0-7b32-4126-9115-b818b4dec86b

 

I’m not going to embed it, because the Browns are protective regarding these sorts of things, but hit the link if you haven’t already and check it out. It was pretty good stuff honestly. One reporter even found a creative way to call Jimmy Haslam, Joe Banner, and Mike Lombardi “The Three Stooges” by hiding behind some fan-generated Facebook comments. Definitely worth a watch or listen if you have a second. You’ll enjoy it. And if you haven’t noticed, I have refrained from giving you my opinion of the firing of Rob Chudzinski up to this point, because I wanted to do the best I could to get the relevant facts out into the open, and let those of you who are reading some of this stuff for the first time make your own decisions. Hopefully, you’ve done that, cause I’m taking my turn now.

 

Firing a first year head coach is never a good thing, let’s make that clear from the start. It means that someone screwed-up the hire, and that it’s painfully obvious to all involved that the working relationship is never going to result in the original desired success, for whatever reason. That’s usually easy enough to spot by itself, but here’s the rub, people with large egos (like the people who run professional sports teams, for example) don’t like admitting that they were wrong. Truthfully, they detest it. And some will go to great lengths to prop-up a bad hire for as long as possible, just so they don’t have to admit that they made said bad hire, and consequently, a mistake. To their credit, the Browns took the high road, and made a change. A hard change. An unpopular change. A change that has fans and analysts from Cleveland-to-Everywhere questioning their sanity and their patience. But in their minds, it had to be done, and that’s okay. If they didn’t feel Chud was the right guy, then awesome. Thank you for not dragging us though another Mangini-type waste of a year with a lame-duck coach.

 

However, limited props aside, you had better not fuck this one up.

 

You get one of these as a leadership group. One mulligan. One do-over. You can’t pull this stunt with Chud, go through the process of hiring another coach, struggle through a 2014 season like you struggled through this one, and then fire that guy. That won’t fly. This has to be the last coach the Browns hire for a while – five years at least, and that might be a conservative number.

 

https://twitter.com/Chip_Camarata/status/417427971516149761

 

So here’s the deal, kids. They’re gonna hire a guy – probably Josh McDaniels if current reports are true – and that guy is going to have to win next year. Not six games, not seven games…eight games at least to justify this firing. You’ve got more salary cap space than any team in the league coming up, a ton of draft picks, and five (possibly six) Pro Bowlers. There is no reason why the Browns in 2014 shouldn’t be fighting for a playoff spot until the final whistle of the final game. That’s what we demand as pittance Joe Banner. That’s what your fans are demanding from you Jim Haslam. You blow up the team this season and whatever, but next season…next season you had better win. Period.

 

No more excuses. No more progress. No more battles.

 

Fair?

 

https://twitter.com/numbrzman/status/417500560309243904

 

Exactly.

 

 

 

Cleveland Cavaliers

https://twitter.com/ExtraGram_JaV/status/416961730942877696

 

What did Andrew Bynum do?

 

Saturday morning, as the Cavs were preparing to play the Celtics in Boston in a rare Saturday early-afternoon game, the news broke all over Cleveland media.

 

 

Alright, so. Here’s what we know:

 

1) There were no perceived “problems” with Andrew Bynum, his attitude, buy in, effort, or anything else prior to his suspension Saturday morning, at least that was released to the media/fans. I mean, his play had dialed back a bit over the prior few games, but Bynum hadn’t played in over a year, a little fatigue and slippage from time to time was to be expected. He wasn’t in NBA shape. Not like before, anyway.

 

2) Nobody will go on record regarding this.

 

3) Whatever it is, it does not appear to be basketball related, although that’s always possible.

 

4) Taking out basketball reasons, just for the sake of argument, we’re left with insubordination, being a cancer in the locker room, refusal to rehab properly, or…while we’re just throwing things against the wall here to see if they stick…

 

 

Now. Let’s talk about this. First of all, this is alleged. I don’t know that Andrew Bynum was caught having sex with *REDACTED*, who is the significant other of a Cavaliers assistant coach who’s name may or may not be *REDACTED*. In fact, he probably wasn’t. The Cavs, in fact, are out in force ripping down webpages that are even implying that this story is true, which we are not doing here. The rumor itself is the story, not the validity of it.

 

So if he wasn’t having sex with the fiancee of an assistant coach, what could Bynum have done to get yanked-off the team immediately, given an indefinite suspension with pay, and basically told to GTFO and never come back until the Cavs either release or trade him?

 

Thoughts?

 

https://twitter.com/_LenaWithIt/status/416962045242667008

https://twitter.com/fivefifths/status/416966391141376000

https://twitter.com/ChicoHimself/status/416969444305293312

 

And so now, here’s the problem. The likely answer is probably something far less interesting than the hot rumor, but dammit, the hot rumor makes too much damn sense in this context! Short of putting Mike Brown in a headlock (which we’d know about…think Sprewell), assaulting a teammate with a deadly weapon (he’d be in jail), or just flat refusing to practice / rehab / play (unlikely, would kill any leverage he would have to go to a contender eventually)…what gets a cheap, talented seven-foot 25 year-old center immediately suspended, sent home, and told to never come back again because the relationship is never fixable? I mean seriously! Brian Windhorst of ESPN seems to think that the issue stemmed from a playing time issue, meaning that Bynum is/was pissed that Kyrie wasn’t getting him the ball and that reduced production was eating into his minutes. There was apparently a meeting between Bynum and Mike Brown on Friday, after which BAM! he was gone forever.

 

Yeah, okay.

 

Again, I want to be clear about this, I am not saying that there is any truth to the rumor (and that’s all it is, is a rumor with no validity) that Andrew Bynum was kicked-off the team for having an illicit affair with the fiancee of a Cavaliers assistant coach. I am not saying that. I am, however, saying that if that was it, it would make perfect sense as to why the Cavaliers are acting like they are, and why this eradication from the team came-up so suddenly.

 

But it’s not true, so pay it no attention.

 

 

NO! It’s not true. This is not a picture of them, and even if it was, there was no sex between Bynum and this woman! None!

 

https://twitter.com/starkweather77/status/417809971636477952

 

That’s not funny! And not true. This is nothing but a false rumor! You stop this!

 

 

No No No! Where would you get such a thing? Absolutely, categorically not true.

 

 

 

That’s ridiculous, that’s absolutely not what happened in that well written and informative article you linked in your tweet. Don’t be a fool.

 

Remember kids, Andrew Bynum was ripped away from all team activities, cast into a virtual black hole with an indefinite (paid) suspension, and was immediately listed as “FOR SALE BY OWNER” to every team in the NBA, available to the highest bidder (sacrificing all leverage in the process and with a very team-friendly contract) because he was unhappy about his playing time, and got in a fight with Mike Brown.

 

Yep. Sounds legit to me. I have no reason to question any of this.

 

 

Yeah, I’m sure that’s the reason. That’s never happened in the NBA before…

 

 

The Week in Pictures

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://twitter.com/AngryBrownsFan/status/417487314340696065

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://twitter.com/BS1999CLE/status/417701155234275328

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

C-ya next week! Maybe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who is to Blame For Latest Browns Loss? It Isn't the Officials

by Ryan Isley

The Cleveland Browns lost a game this past weekend to the New England Patriots, but you may not realize that actually happened, because losing the game has been lost in the blame game.

There has been a lot of misguided blame when it comes to the Browns 27-26 loss to the Patriots. For the last week, the only thing I have heard is how the Browns lost because the officials stole the game from them and handed it to the Patriots. What I haven’t heard are the fans talking about how maybe it wasn’t only a bad pass interference call by the officials that cost the Browns the game. Maybe – and I know this is crazy – the blame belongs at the feet of the Browns themselves.

After all, the Browns held a 26-14 lead when the Patriots received the ball with 2:35 left in the game on their own 18-yard-lin with just one timeout left. Instead of playing aggressive defense as they had for most of the game, the Browns allowed Tom Brady to lead the Patriots down the field almost effortlessly.

The play-by-play of that drive:

Brady pass to Shane Vereen to NE 24 for 6 yards
Brady pass to Julian Edelman to NE 47 for 23 yards
Brady pass to Edelman to CLV 34 for 19 yards
Brady pass incomplete
Brady pass to Vereen ran out of bounds at CLV 25 for 9 yards.
Brady pass to Edelman ran out of bounds at CLV 19 for 6 yards.
Brady pass to Vereen pushed out of bounds at CLV 15 for 4 yards
Brady pass to Vereen to CLV 2 for 13 yards
Brady spiked the ball
Vereen up the middle to CLV 2 for no gain
Brady pass to Edelman for 2 yards, touchdown

That is an 11-play, 82-yard drive that took up 1:34. That shouldn’t be possible, no matter who the opposing team – or quarterback – happens to be. They let Brady go 8-for-10 for 82 yards with one of those incompletions being a spike to stop the clock.

As if allowing them to score wasn’t bad enough, Jordan Poyer was called for a personal foul on the touchdown, moving the kickoff up 15 yards. Normally, that wouldn’t be a big deal. But when the opposing team is going to try an onside kick – and they successfully recover – that is 15 less yards they need to gain to score again.

Ah yes – the onside kick. Everyone knew it was obviously coming, including the Browns, who put their hands team on the field in preparation. Unfortunately for the Browns, it looked as if Fozzy Whitaker touched the ball before it went 10 yards, allowing the Patriots to recover the ball at Cleveland’s 40-yard-line.

Without the penalty on Poyer, the ball would have been at New England’s 45-yard-line. That would prove to be a costly 15 yards.

On the first play, Brady hit Danny Amendola for 10 yards to the Browns 30. It was on the next play that would get Browns fans up in arms. Brady looked deep to the left to Josh Boyce and fired to his receiver in the end zone. The pass was incomplete, but there was a flag thrown and a pass interference called on Leon McFadden. By the look of all replays, it was a bad call. But instead of 2nd-and-10 at the 30, the Patriots now were looking at 1st-and-goal from the 1-yard-line and 35 seconds left. Good luck stopping Brady and company in that situation. Of course, the Browns couldn’t make the stop, as Brady hit Amendola for a touchdown on the first play after the penalty.

It is fair to wonder, however, where that play would have taken place without the Poyer penalty. Had the Patriots not gotten those extra 15 yards, would the pass interference have happened in the end zone? Or would it have happened somewhere between there and the 15-yard-line? Maybe they would have been able to keep the Patriots out of the end zone, or maybe not. But you have to like their chances a little better from 10+ yards out than you do from one yard out.

Of course, we don’t get that kind of analysis or thinking from the fans or even some of the media.

Because it was so much easier to just blame the officials for ruining what had been a good game for the Browns so far. They simply took the game away from the more deserving team and gave it to the team that the league wants to see win because New England is one of the league’s “golden franchises” and Tom Brady is one of their “golden boys.” It is unspeakable to blame the Browns for actually losing the game, because they just simply couldn’t have done that.

We were subjected to listening to someone on the television postgame show on the channel in which the game was aired who continued to call the NFL, their officials and the Patriots cheaters. He even went so far as to blame the east coast liberals for the Browns having the game taken from them. Yes, a football game was decided by east coast liberals.

The bottom line is this: the Browns didn’t have the game stolen from them. It wasn’t taken away and given to the Patriots. And the east coast liberals surely had better things to do Sunday than call in a favor in an NFL game. The Browns lost the game.

And that’s the thing – the Browns lose. It is what they do. It is what they have done for the most part since 1999, losing 160 of the 237 games (67.5%) since returning to the NFL. Sometimes they lose games is spectacular fashion, and this was one of the most spectacular ones yet. A 12-point lead on the road against one of the best teams in the league with 2:35 left in the game and they find a way to lose? That was so Cleveland. And more specifically, it was so Browns.

Because they are the Cleveland Browns and that is what they do.

But it might not just be the Browns franchise. Maybe it is also in the DNA of the coaching staff.

Head coach Rob Chudzinski came to the Browns after two seasons as the offensive coordinator for the Carolina Panthers. In those two seasons, Carolina was 2-12 in games decided by seven points or less. Offensive coordinator Norv Turner was the head coach of the San Diego Chargers for the previous six seasons before joining the Browns staff this season. Last year, Turner’s Chargers lost five games in which they led in the fourth quarter. Ray Horton became the Browns defensive coordinator this season after holding the same position for the Arizona Cardinals for the past two seasons. Those Cardinals defenses gave up six game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime under Horton.

Losing breeds losing, and in that aspect, the Browns breed so quickly they make Jon and Kate Gosselin look like amateurs.

The Browns just needed to make a play or two defensively in the last few minutes of the game. A tackle in bounds, a pass deflection or a sack. They needed to avoid the penalty that set up the Patriots after the initial touchdown. They needed to recover the onside kick. But they didn’t do any of those things. And they lost the game because of it.

So don’t blame the officials. At least not for ultimately losing the game. That blame belongs to the Browns.

Comments? Questions? You can leave them here or email Ryan at ryan@morethanafan.net. You can also connect with him on Twitter @isley23.

Cleveland Needs Real Change

Hiram Boyd may be one of Cleveland’s most controversial personalities, but he struck a chord with me the other night.

If you follow me on Twitter, or simply know me, you’ll know that my good friend, Jake Dungan, and I hosted a weekly radio show for Indians Baseball Insider throughout the summer called Call to the Bullpen.

Hiram would chime in week-after-week, as he normally does with Cleveland radio shows, and offer his thoughts or opinions on the Indians. Hiram seemingly enjoyed calling our show because we wouldn’t cut him off and we’d debate with him for an extended period of time before he insisted on simply listening.

Well, this past week, Jake and I hosted a special offseason edition of Call to the Bullpen, as we will sporadically throughout the winter, and, of course, Hiram called in.

We were in the midst of a conversation about the Indians and closer-extraordinaire, Brian Wilson. I offered my thoughts on WIlson said something along the lines of, “we don’t need a distraction like him on this team.”

“Hayden,” he said. “You disappointed me with something you said earlier. I would love to have Brian Wilson on this team.”

Of course, I was willing to listen to his point and ready to hear out his argument when he said something that struck me to my core.

“You’re just like the rest of them,” Hiram said. “Clevelanders are so afraid of change. Cleveland is afraid of stuff that is different. They’re afraid of people that are different.”

Instantly, the bells and whistles started chiming in my head. The proverbial lightbulb went off. Suddenly, I heard Drew Carey- the newly appointed, Cleveland-born host of “The Price is Right”- say “Hayden, come on down!”.

It all made sense.

Hiram Boyd, Cleveland’s “craziest” fan, made a point that I think hits the nail on the head.

Let me preface this argument by saying that Cleveland fans are the best fans in America. Undoubtedly.

Maybe not the smartest, maybe not the quietest, but they are certainly the most involved, loyal and passionate fans anywhere. Period.

That being said, I want to delve in to Hiram’s point and why it makes so much sense to me and why it’s absolutely true.

Cleveland is afraid of change. It’s afraid of the truly new and uncomfortable. It wants new faces, but the same attitudes and ideals.

Let’s start with the Browns.

How can you say that Browns fans are afraid of change?

The Browns have had 20 different quarterbacks and 7 different head coaches since 1999. How are they afraid of change?

Look at the 20 different quarterbacks we’ve had. Was any one of those guys different than the other in terms of performance or demeanor?

Was Tim Couch any different, really than Derek Anderson? Was Derek Anderson any different than Brady Quinn? Was Brady Quinn any different from Colt McCoy? Was Colt McCoy any different than Brandon Weeden?

Of course, they all had different styles of play, but they were all cut from the same mold. They were all “safe”. None made any trouble, kept their mouths relatively quiet, etc, etc. None was really a risk taker, on or off the field.

Look at the couple of times when the Browns did take “risks” in the draft. Braylon Edwards was probably the best receiver the Browns have had since 1999 and Kellen Winslow was certainly a playmaker and the best tight end since Ozzie Newsome.

Ultimately, they didn’t pan out for a while, but that’s because Cleveland fans helped to drive these “risks” out of town.

Interesting.

Lets move on to Browns head coaches.

If you really, really look at it, was Chris Palmer different from Butch Davis? Was Butch Davis any different from Terry Robiskie? Was Terry Robiskie any different from Romeo Crennel? Was Romeo Crennel any different from Eric Mangini? Was Eric Mangini any different than Pat Shurmur? Was Pat Shurmur any different from Rob Chudzinski?

Again, they all had different styles of coaching and treated the media differently, but again, they were all safe. Nothing exciting, nothing different. Cut from the same cloth.

Rob Chudzinski, in his first season, has shown an aggression that we’ve never seen from Browns coaches prior. Is it a coincidence that the Browns are 4-5 and on the brink of a winning record against the AFC North division for the first time since 1999?

Again, interesting.

Finally, when the Browns regime was finally changed, as the Lerner’s left town, Clevelanders, for the most part, were already skeptical of Jimmy Haslam, Joe Banner and Mike Lombardi. They wanted change, but at the same time, they really didn’t. The Lerners stunk, but at least they were comfortable.

They “understood” us. That’s another phrase that’s comfortable for Browns fans. It makes outsiders immediately disliked and makes Browns fans feel as if they are somehow special, despite never having seen a Super Bowl appearance.

Anyways, as soon as the new regime took hold, Browns fans became uncomfortable and at the slightest sign of trouble from Haslam, were already calling for his resignation. “Bring back the Lerners,” they said, despite the years of misery caused by Randy and the family.

Already, with the new and uncomfortable regime, the Browns have shown signs of vast improvement in just one season. Again, looking at a chance to have a winning record in the AFC North for the first time since 1999.

Alas, interesting.

Even the other day, as the Browns announced big time stadium renovations, fans were already pointing out the flaws with the system.

Again, just another example of Clevelanders and their inability to cope with change.

The Browns are the most glaringly obvious example of this attitude problem in Cleveland, but it comes with the Indians and Cavs as well.

Many fans clamored for Sandy Alomar Jr. rather than Terry Francona to manage the Indians.

Francona won the Mananger of the Year award.

Fans whined about Nick Swisher’s massive contract.

Swisher lead the Indians in home runs, despite dealing with injury throughout the season.

Cavaliers fans wanted Mike Brown fired when LeBron became a free agent.

Three years later, we welcome him back with open arms.

Kyrie Irving was far too risky a pick to make over the established Derrick Williams.

One is Uncle Drew and one rides the bench.

The bottomline is this: no fan-base is more vocal about change but less willing to actually change.

Browns fans are constantly calling for a new quarterback, yet, won’t consider Johnny Manziel or anyone out of the ordinary to do the job. We constantly bash the quarterbacks that come in and yearn for the old days with Bernie.

Indians fans are constantly calling out for big time free agents, yet complain when we finally bring them in. We constantly say, “why can’t we just develop talent in the 90’s?” rather than appreciating the big time free agents we bring in.

Cavs fans constantly called for a new coach, yet missed the old one when they realized what they had. We say, “why did we get rid of Mike Brown in the first place?” when just years before we said, “get rid of Mike Brown, he’s obviously not a good coach.”

It’s not even simply the sports teams that Clevelanders complain about. When city officials want to bring this city to the 21st Century, add new buildings, create parks and opportunities for employment, many argue and complain. When there’s an election and many complained about mayor Frank Jackson, they re-elected him anyway. Even something so trivial as a name change for Cleveland Browns Stadium created an uproar, despite the fact that it brought in added funds for the organization.

As Hiram said, Clevelanders clamor for change yet change nothing. They do the same things over and over again, without any difference in their actions. As Hiram said, this is literally the definition of insanity.

I just want to thank Hiram for helping me to see what I was completely blind to before. Again, this doesn’t go for all Clevelanders, but there’s certainly a large majority to whom it applies.

I love Cleveland and that’s why I’m saying that it’s time for Cleveland to actually change. Change the mentality, change the city and change the culture.

Accept the change and embrace it.

Cleveland’s best times weren’t in the past. They lie directly in the future.