Posted on: June 30, 2010 3:18 pm

Two Words. Please Stay.

The clock is ticking.

The Decision.

It's not March Madness and yet I can't help feeling like Cleveland is playing the role of Cinderalla.

But in this case, whether it has a happy ending or not is completely out of the control of a city and its loyal fans.

Is this what Cinderella felt like. To be taken on a magical ride only to know that the clock would eventually strike midnight?

In my heart, I want LeBron James to stay.

In my rational, if not cynical, head I know he won't. The story book endings haven't happened in Cleveland since I've been born. Instead it's been a series of two-word dismissals.

The Drive
The Fumble
The Shot
The Move
The (whatever you call the 97 series)
The (whatever you call this year's series against the Celtics)

Two words. It seems like everything that is nationally known about Cleveland sports gets boiled down to two words. That's a shame because Cleveland fans (and you know who I'm talking about) deserve so much more.

I believe LeBron really did want to change that perception. I hope he still does. Would there ever be a championship as sweet as winning one in your hometown?

Cleveland fans: I'm not there, but I'm rooting for you. And if #23 decides to leave, I'll still be here cheering for my teams.

LeBron, if you want to cement your legacy, here are two words for you to think about:

I'm staying.

Category: NBA
Posted on: January 5, 2010 5:19 pm

Is It Possible to Feel Sorry For Eric Mangini

Hear me out.

If Mike Holmgren fires Eric Mangini this week you have to feel just a bit sorry for him.

After all, it's not his fault that Randy Lerner is growing into the job of owner. It was just last year that Lerner was salivating at the possibility of hiring Mangini to the point where we were only bidding against ourselves for his services.

That was the big question at the time and it seems worth asking again with the hiring of Holmgren.

Don't get me wrong, I think Lerner may (finally) be on the right track, but this puts Mangini in a tough spot. He was brought in to rebuild. And for all his mistakes he did a pretty nice job of cleaning out the swamp. What's in place, while not a lot of superstars are players who are willing to work hard and be disciplined. Yes winning covers up a lot, but this team looked like it was developing an identity and we haven't been able to say that since they returned.

And his reward may very well be a one-and-done. Yes he will be handomely paid for not coaching, but as someone who appreciated his desire to coach our team, I will feel a little bad that he didn't get a chance to see it through.

Posted on: October 5, 2009 10:35 am

But It's a Good Kind of Hurt ...

Watching the Cleveland Browns on Sunday was an emotional rollercoaster. But at least it provided some thrills. 

As the game ended, I felt that familiar feeling of disappointment that is part of every Browns fan's experience. Red Right 88. The Drive. The Fumble. We were so close. 

But when I let my head overrule my bleeding heart, I realized that only the most cynical observer could say there were no signs of hope in their performance against the Bengals.

1. Eric Mangini Shows Leadership - A skeptic would say that necessity is the mother of invention. But it says something that he made some difficult, or not so difficult personnel decisions - and I'm not talking about just the quarterback change. Reducing Cribbs' role on offense. Starting Mike Adams over Brandon McDonald. Putting Furrey in as a defensive back. These show a coach walking his own talk and doing everything he can to put his team in a position to win the game. He's been asked over and over in press conferences, what specifically can he do different. Actions speak louder than words.

2. The Kids Made the Most of Their Opporutnities. The Browns needed a #2 receiver and did the 2nd rounder from Georgia ever deliver. He made catches down the sideline, in the seam. Some jump off your couch catches. And Jerome Harrison delivered a performance that many of us have been waiting for. Nobody had his back and he put the running game on his shoulders. No question Dick Jauron and the Buffalo defense have something else to think about this week. 

3. Braylon Edwards Fights For What's Right. There are good penalties and bad penalties. His penalty for defending the unnecessary throwdown and subsequent taunting of Harrison was a GREAT penalty. I would have been happy even if the penalties weren't offsetting. Then again, I like the brushback pitch ...

4. The Defense Shows Some Bite. It wasn't perfect, but I suspected that if the offense could just do a little, this defense might surprise us. With an aggressive defense that still doesn't have all the pieces in place, we're a shoestring tackle away from big plays, but I've said it since the 1st game, this is a defense that looks like it's "all in" for Rob Ryan.

5. Special Teams Were Something Special. OK this isn't really a new thought, but game changing doesn't begin to describe what Josh Cribbs and Shaun Rogers deliver for this team.

We didn't a get a win and I'm not one for moral victories. But I think all Browns fans are walking just a little taller today. I'm excited about next Sunday because of the new possibilities it might bring, not just to get the taste of a bad loss out of my mouth.

Posted on: September 28, 2009 4:36 pm

Eric Mangini Bashers Be Careful What You Wish For

What if the Cleveland Browns players have quit on Eric Mangini?

There's a school of thought that says, "Good for them! Let's show "the suits" that we're not going to take it anymore!" Yes, we'll show that guy he can't make us run laps or impose excessive fines. We'll force management to get rid of him. We just won't play hard until he's gone.

And if that's true, then Eric Mangini is more right than we know and will have more power, not less, in upcoming seasons. Because if the Cleveland Browns players don't have enough character to play 60 minutes of football because they take pride in what they do, then there's a whole lot more housecleaning that needs to be done.

It's no small accomplishment to be a professional football player. And there's no question that these players have worked hard to be where they're at. I personally was never talented enough to be any of these guys on their worst day. But that's not the point. If they're professional then they owe it to their employer and the stockholders (the fans) to give it their best every game.

And if they won't, then Eric Mangini needs to make sure they are gone. And find 49 or 53 players who want to play hard and do it right for 60 minutes.

We all have had employers or clients or whoever that are challenging to work with for any number of reasons. But if we're a professional we suck it up and do our best for them because IT'S WHAT WE DO!

I don't agree with every decision Mangini has made. Many of you won't agree with this blog. Many more won't even read it. But if our Browns are too fragile to show respect for authority then as cliche as it sounds maybe they're the problem, not the solution.

And that would mean that we'll be seeing a lot more laps at next year's training camp. And a whole lot more losses this year.

That said, I don't think the players have quit. I think they're just not as talented as we thought. It means we can't plug all the holes in one draft or one off-season. Many of you have commented on the draft ... and you're right. Many of you have commented on misses in Free Agency and you're right, too.

But if you're right, then just realize that Mangini can't be all wrong.

Be careful what you wish for.  

Posted on: April 21, 2009 10:59 am

Musing on Draft Day Possibilities

There are rumors aplenty around Berea and the NFL. But what will it all mean for the 2009 Cleveland Browns. We'll all know for sure in a few months, but here are my two cents.

To trade or not to trade:

Contestant #1: Braylon Edwards

I think this is a done deal. The only question is when it's consummated on Saturday. Waiting until then gives Mangini and Kokinis more real-time options to ensure they get the player they want. I like Edwards and will cheer him on if he stays, but I have concerns.

1. What if the drops weren't a one-year wonder?

2. If the drops were because he lacked sufficient motivation, can Mangini afford that presence in his locker room?

3. If Brady Quinn is the quarterback, is he the right #1 receiver for this offense?

Contestant #2: Brady Quinn

Too early to tell. Anyone that's read my posts, knows that I'm not neutral in the DA vs. BQ debate. I like Quinn for the intangibles and think that the offense's performance in his two starts merits the opportunity to see how that translates for an entire season. But the funny thing is neither Mangini or Kokinis has called me to ask my opinion. I think that most personnel decisions have some psychological component. I think Mangini wants a clear-cut #1 going into camp. If they've spent as much time evaluating Sanchez as is reported, than they obviously like Sanchez. But is #5 too high of a price?

Ah, that to me, is where the real intrigue lies. If he's still available at a spot where the Browns see a value, then I think they pull the trigger. Then they could go to camp with DA as the starter with Sanchez as the clear heir apparent, not the co-starter. An arrangement like that would never work with Quinn.

Otherwise, I think they keep Quinn and either keep DA or move him later in camp. But one way or another, I see one of them gone. As much as I think we will regret trading Quinn, I know that a team is better served with a clear #1.

Aside from the QB issue, I think the bulk of the draft should be defense, defense, defense. We've got enough on offense to be OK, but we need to get a defense that gets to the quarterback and helps us flip field position.

I anticipate a busy draft day for the Browns.

Posted on: January 29, 2009 4:57 pm

Message to the Cavs: I want to believe.

I'm feeling a bit like Charlie Brown. I know I should be thrilled that the Cavaliers are doing so well, but the Cavs hardly make my radar. I find myself obsessed with the Browns and now looking forward to the Indians. Have I gotten to the point that I expect LeBron and company to make the playoffs. Are they becoming (gasp!) the Atlanta Braves!

The Cavs were absolutely dreadful when I was growing up, and then the Price/Daugherty years hit before the Indians renaissance. But now, it seems that so many things compete with our attention that I am missing out on what could be a special year. Or maybe I'm just the typical Cleveland fan, afraid to get my heart behind the team.

Help me Cavs fans! I WANT TO BELIEVE!

Posted on: January 12, 2009 8:35 am

A Browns Fan's Worst Nightmare

And so we're faced with an AFC Championship Game pitting the Baltimore Ravens vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers. One of them has to win. Which already makes the Super Bowl that much harder to watch. And then Whisenhunt is coaching the Arizona Cardinals. We just can't get away from it!

I can't root for the Steelers. But I find that, over time, I'm starting to have a far more intense dislike for the Ravens. In fact, it's spilled over into an irrational hatred for the entire city of Baltimore.

Anyway, it's just another reminder of a wasted season and how far we have to go.

Posted on: January 8, 2009 9:28 am

And Then It Was Mangini

Only time, and circumstances, will tell if Eric Mangini is the right guy to lead the Cleveland Browns.

My primary concern is that in the span of about 48 hours (from the time Lerner learned that Cowher would not be available to the time he learned of Mangini's availability), this went from a process that would be deliberate and thorough to one that seemed pre-determined.

Was there a line of suitors beating down Mangini's door? From the outside, we appeared to be bidding against ourselves.

Oh well, he is our coach now. I'm just getting a little tired of hearing how we should try to be the New England Patriots. I don't want to BE the New England Patriots, I want to BEAT the New England Patriots. I respect their consistency, but they're a few Vinatieri field goals and a tuck rule away from being less than dynastic. Oh, and there is that little matter of Tom Brady.



Category: NFL
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