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Life as a Cleveland Sports Fan

Archive for the category “Cleveland Browns”

It’s on the Browns now to make the Alex Mack deal work out

alex mack resignsWell that didn’t take very long.

This morning, Pro Bowl center Alex Mack signed an offer sheet with the Jacksonville Jaguars. By this afternoon, the Browns matched the deal, meaning Mack will be in Cleveland for at least two more years.

The deal guarantees Mack $18 million over the first two years of the deal ($10 million this fall, $8 million in 2015, with $8 million per year in the final three years of the contract), and includes an option for Mack to walk away after two years if he is not happy.

“I’m excited for both Alex and the Browns,” Farmer said in a team statement. “We have talked about keeping our own players and this is a positive for us. Alex is a quality person and player that truly brings to life what playing like a Brown means.”

So the Browns now have two years to make sure that does not happen. But before we get to that, we wanted to go over a few items we’ve seen talked about in the past few days concerning Mack, his position and free agency in general.

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Are the Browns going to lose their Alex Mack gamble?

alex mack offer sheetEver since early in the 2013 NFL season when the news came out that Alex Mack was not going to negotiate a new contract with the Cleveland Browns until after the season, we’ve been on the side of not worrying about anything until their is something to worry about.

Well, we may now have something to worry about.

The news came out today that Jacksonville will sign Mack to an offer sheet on Friday, one that will be for five years and is reportedly “designed to make it as difficult as possible for the Browns to match” the offer.

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Former Browns quarterbacks prove to be a resilient bunch

will browns winWith the NFL now just a month away, the talk is heating up about who the Cleveland Browns will select – especially in the first round.

Many expect the Browns to select from the group of top-ranked quarterbacks that includes (in no particular order), Blake BortlesDerek CarrTeddy BridgewaterJimmy GarropoloTom SavageKeith Wenning and Johnny Manziel.

If the Browns get it right, they shouldn’t have to worry about drafting another quarterback for at least a decade. (Imagine a world where we don’t have to talk about Browns quarterbacks every year.)

And if they get it wrong? Well, the secondary market for Browns quarterbacks in the NFL has turned into an especially fruitful one.

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From the editor’s notebook …

tribe carrasco twinsIt was a rough start to the home portion of the 2014 schedule for the Cleveland Indians.

In dropping two-of-three to the Minnesota Twins who are not … very good … the Tribe was done in by its starting pitching and lack of clutch hitting.

Danny Salazar had the best start of the weekend, even through the struggled through 5.2 innings of work in Friday’s home opener. While he gave up seven hits, Salazar managed to find a way to hold the Twins to just two runs and give the offense time to rally.

Carlos Carrasco had his own issues on Saturday, but unlike Salazar, Carrasco doesn’t have the makeup to work himself out of problems. Carrasco followed Salazar’s lead by working just 5.2 innings and giving up seven hits, but he couldn’t keep the Twins off the scoreboard in giving up five runs (four earned).

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Four the hard way

anniversary 4Today marks the four-year anniversary of the launch of our site.

As a lifelong Cleveland fan, we knew what we were getting into when we decided to get the voices out of our head and put them down on (virtual) paper. But even by the standards of Cleveland sports, it’s been an interesting four years.

Consider that since we made our maiden post:

  • The Browns have gone 18-46 (a .281 winning percentage), are on their fourth head coach and fourth front office combination, and have had seven different starting quarterbacks.
  • The Cavs are 90-210 and counting (a .300 winning percentage), have had three coaches (counting Mike Brown twice) and just as many general managers, had an NBA record 26-game losing streak, and have yet to post a winning record despite drafting four players in the top four of the NBA Draft – two of which were the No. 1 overall pick.
  • The Indians have gone 309-339 while employing two different managers. The Tribe is the only team of the three to have a winning season and a playoff appearance – which they promptly lost.

More than just wins and losses, though, is the fact that writing has made us enjoy sports even more. Having an outlet to vent after the never-ending losses and personnel moves has helped us learn to not carry around another dismal performance by the local sports teams. We’ve also tried to develop a different perspective on what – and most importantly why – the Browns, Indians and Cavs are doing what they are doing.

A big part of how we have been able to do that is through the people we have met – either in person or in the online world – since we started the site (if the analytics are to be believed, we’ve had visitors from 154 different countries). We’ve been fortunate enough to meet some cool people (you know who you are) and our interactions with everyone has opened up our thinking and helped redefine, in a good way, how we look at sports.

And for that we say “thanks!”

So what’s next?

The Indians open up the season next week and will try and build on last season’s 92-win team that finished the season strong and made the playoffs. The Cavs are heading into the “most important off-season” since, well, the last one. And the Browns have (yet another) new coach and (yet another) new front office and the annual hope of the NFL Draft.

In other words, just another year in the life of a Cleveland sports fan.

(Photo by Getty Images)

Are Pro Days really that important? – Part 2

johnny manziel pro dayA few days ago we raised the question of whether or not there is any real value in attending a college player’s Pro Day.

That was in response to the reaction from a few members of the local media who were furiously trying to manufacture a controversy because Cleveland Browns general manager Ray Farmer and the team’s scouts were attending the various Pro Days – rather than head coach Mike Pettine and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan.

We thought about that today at the gym while watching ESPN’s coverage of quarterback Johnny Manziel’s Pro Day at Texas A&M. After watching Manziel do his thing, we came away with two indisputable conclusions.

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Mark Sanchez? No thanks. DeSean Jackson? Maybe.

browns mark sanchezThe New York Jets made it official on Friday, releasing Mark Sanchez, their one-time franchise quarterback.

Yes, Sanchez led the Jets to the AFC Championship Game his first two years in the league. In the process, he won four road playoff games – or twice as many as the Cleveland Browns have won since joining the NFL in 1950.

The Jets won with Sanchez when they had a dominant defense and a strong running game – limiting what he needed to do on the field.

Yes, the Browns are working to build a dominant defense and, with the signing last week of Ben Tate, have remembered that you still need to run the ball, even in today’s NFL.

And, yes, the Browns are in the market for a quarterback, with just Brian Hoyer and Alex Tanney currently on the roster.

But there is no way the Browns should consider bringing Sanchez to town.

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Are Pro Days really all that important?

blake bortles pro dayThere was much hand wringing earlier this week in certain quarters about the fact that no one from the Cleveland Browns coaching staff has been in attendance for the Pro Days of quarterbacks Teddy Bridgewater and Blake Bortles.

Apparently it wasn’t enough that general manager Ray Farmer and the team’s scouts were in attendance as Bridgewater had a disappointing effort while Bortles fared much better. No, the fact that head coach Mike Pettine, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains were not there is just another sign of the Browns dysfunctional ways.

Or so the story goes.

The whole manufactured controversy got us wondering just how important a player’s Pro Day really is in today’s NFL.

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Browns finally getting serious about fixing the running game

New Orleans Saints v Houston TexansThe Cleveland Browns agreed to a two-year contract with free agent running back Ben Tate on Saturday.

And, in the process, the Browns announced that they will no longer be content to roll out a repeat of last year’s clown show at the running back position.

After missing his rookie season with an ankle injury, Tate has rushed for 4.73 yards per carry over the past three seasons, showing that he can be effective in the type of offense that Browns offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan likes to run. Tate took over as the starter in Week 8 of last season after Adrian Foster was injured, but suffered four broken ribs in that game, which limited his productivity. But he still finished the season with 771 rushing yards and four touchdowns.

Those numbers may not seem gaudy, but when you put them up against what the Browns did last year in the running game – the single-worst season in franchise history – Tate comes across as a Hall of Famer. Willis McGahee, Chris Ogbonnaya, Edwin Baker and Fozzy Whitaker combined for 739 yards and four touchdowns last season, along with a 2.9 yard per carry average.

That clearly was no longer going to cut it.

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Brandon Weeden one of Browns biggest disappointments

browns cut weedenThe Cleveland Browns continued cleaning house on Wednesday, releasing quarterbacks Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell.

“First and foremost, the Browns would like to thank Brandon and his agent for being true professionals,” general manager Ray Farmer said in a statement. “The circumstances in which he found himself were not easy for him or the team. After discussions with Brandon and his agent, we’d like to give him the ability to pursue other opportunities.”

The moves were not unexpected as neither quarterback is very good. Things went downhill quickly for Campbell after he posted a “moral victory” in his first start and he eventually finished the season with a 1-7 record.

Things were even worse for Weeden, but his demise is more disappointing.

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