Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

Browns better be working on Plans B, C and D

browns sign josh mccownThe Cleveland Browns signed veteran quarterback Josh McCown on Friday.

If the team is planning on McCown helping to solve the biggest on-going issue with this team, then they better be working on Plans B, C, D and beyond. (And Brady Quinn better not be part of those plans.)

“Josh is your consummate professional,” Browns general manager Ray Farmer said in announcing the move. “He’s known to be a great guy in the locker room and will be great for the quarterback room. He knows how to get an entire offense on the same page and get a team to rally behind him. He has been exposed to a lot of different types of offenses and we think still has the drive and skill set to be a successful quarterback in this league.

“We are excited to get him and believe he will help continue to move us in the right direction and help us build the type of team that will bring winning football to Cleveland.”

Good for Farmer for being able to say all that with a straight face. As to the part about bringing “winning football to Cleveland,” we’ll return to that point in a minute.

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Can we talk quarterbacks for a moment?

Basic RGBCome with us for a moment, if you will, as we join Mr. Peabody for a trip in the Wayback Machine. It won’t take long – we’re only traveling back to the fall of 2013.

Cleveland Browns fans remember that magical time, when Jason Campbell took over at quarterback and led the Browns to a series of stirring moral victories. Sadly, Campbell only posted one actual victory in his eight starts.

We’re back now and you’re probably wondering why, if we could travel back in time to any Browns season, we picked 2013.

It’s because that season taught (or should have taught) the Browns and their fans an important lesson — just because you may not be happy with your current quarterback, that doesn’t mean that plugging someone else in automatically solves the problem.

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Browns refreshed logo is OK; worst may be yet to come

brown is beautifulThe Cleveland Browns unveiled what is essentially a refreshed logo on Tuesday and while there is nothing particularly noteworthy about it, there is also nothing objectionable.

So that’s a win, we suppose.

The team updated the primary helmet logo to reflect “today’s modern Cleveland” with design that “honors the past while evolving into the future. The iconic brown and white stripes stand tall over the orange helmet – a new orange color that matches the passion of the Dawg Pound. The new brown facemask represents the strength and toughness of Cleveland.”

There is also a “contemporary redesigned word mark,” one that is now ” simplistic and utilizes a stronger, bolder font.”

Can’t really complain one way or another about a brighter orange, it is what it is. The helmet logo most likely reflects what the actual helmets will look like when the Browns unveil their new uniforms on April 14, so it will be interesting to see how the brown facemasks look.

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From the editor’s notebook …

kent state beats ohioThe Kent State men’s basketball teams has reclaimed its rightful place as the best in the Mid-American Conference after Saturday’s road win against Ohio University.

The victory earned the Golden Flashes a sweep of the season series with the Bobcats and, coupled with Bowling Green’s loss, puts Kent State at the top of the East Division standings. The Golden Flashes are also tied with Central Michigan and Toledo for the best conference record at 10-4.

Senior Devareaux Manley hit five three-pointers on Saturday to move into second place on the school’s all-time three-point list with 211, and he is just one away from tying the school’s single-season record of 89 set by Randal Holt two years ago.

The win puts the Golden Flashes at 19-8 on the season and leaves them just one win away from their 15th 20-win season in the past 17 years. They are currently just one of 20 Division I programs to have won 20 or more games 14 times in the past 16 seasons.

Kent will be back in action Tuesday night when they go for a season sweep of Miami University. The Golden Flashes have only swept both Ohio and Miami in the same season twice — in 2002 and 2006 – and both those years Kent won the conference’s regular-season and tournament titles.

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Liverpool needs buy in from Mario Balotelli

Liverpool-v-BesiktasLiverpool will look to continue its solid form when it travels to Southampton on Sunday for a surprisingly key Premier League matchup.

Since its last loss, on Dec. 14 against Manchester United, Liverpool has captured 21 points out of a possible 27, pulling the Reds to within four points of a coveted top four spot in the table.

Not only will the match see the return of Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren and Rickie Lambert to St. Mary’s, but Southampton is currently sitting in fourth place, making Sunday’s match so enticing.

Liverpool has found its form thanks to manager Brendan Rodgers’ efforts to continually fine tune the lineup until finally hitting on a successful 3-4-3 formation. He also wasn’t afraid to put Jordon Ibe onto the pitch in key situations.

It’s taken time, but the club has finally started to more closely resemble last year’s squad that challenged for the league title.

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On Farmer, Pettine and Browns quarterbacks

mike pettine quitter quote

It has been an interesting start to the NFL Combine for the Cleveland Browns, and that’s without even talking about the various players gathering at Lucas Oil Stadium for the weekend.

Head coach Mike Pettine owned the day on Wednesday, calmly and confidently touching on a variety of topics. We won’t go into the micro-details (although we did like Pettine’s assessment that the off-season so far has been “well documented”) other than to say the quote in the above picture should to put to rest any lingering doubt about what went down with former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. (You can view video of Pettine’s press conference here.)

It was general manager Ray Farmer’s turn today, and while he wasn’t as entertaining as Pettine, Farmer did hit on some very important points. (Video of Farmer’s press conference can be found here.)

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The unexpected playoff team: Remembering the 84-85 Cavs

CLE_Free_World_BIn just a little more than two months the Cleveland Cavaliers will open a first-round playoff series as the team tries to win the first NBA title in franchise history.

It’s been a forgone conclusion that the Cavs will make the playoffs this season ever since signing LeBron James in free agency and trading for Kevin Love. But even though everyone has expected the Cavs to be in the playoffs, it will still be nice to see the club return to the post-season after a four-year absence.

This spring will also mark the anniversary of another Cavs playoff team, one that to this day remains the most unexpected playoff team that Cavs fans have ever seen.

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5 takeaways from Jimmy Haslam’s talk with the media

mike-pettine-jimmy-haslam-nfl-tampa-bay-buccaneers-cleveland-browns-850x560Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam picked an interesting day to meet with reporters to have what basically turned into an impromptu “state of the Browns” talk.

Whether it was intentional or just coincidental, it wasn’t loss of many Browns fans that Haslam spoke on the one-year anniversary of his fumigation of most of the dysfunction surrounding the franchise as Feb. 11 marked a year since he fired Joe Banner and Mike Lombardi, setting the Browns on what is hopefully the right path.

In speaking with the media, Haslam showed off a trait that seems important to many Cleveland fans – Haslam, it seems, “gets us.”

“I accept that until we win and win consistently which we have not done — they didn’t do before we got here — and we haven’t done it, we don’t have any credibility (with our fans),” Haslam said. “We don’t have any equity with y’all. We accept that. We have to prove we can win and win consistently and we accept that.”

While we’re still confident that having general manager Ray Farmer and head coach Mike Pettine calling the shots, especially now that Pettine has a coaching staff committed to winning, rather than looking for the first bus out of town, there is obviously still work that needs to be done.

The quarterback situation is still unsettled (to put it mildly), the Browns still have holes to fill on the roster, and they still play in the AFC North, which only sent three of its four teams to the playoffs this past season.

We’re pretty sure the Browns know all this, so here are five additional takeaways from Haslam’s talk on Wednesday.

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On Charles Barkley and the value of analytics

Charles Barkley went all in Tuesday night on TNT’s Inside the NBA with a rant against the growing influence of analytics in the NBA.

The focus of Barkley’s ire was the Houston Rockets and general manager Daryl Morey, who is as pro-analytics as they come. According to Barkley:

“(They’re the worst team defensively) among teams that are going to make the playoffs. They’re awful defensively. Just because you’ve got good stats, doesn’t mean you’re a good team defense. They’re not a good defensive team. They gave up 118 points (in a win against Phoenix earlier in the night). No good team gives up 118 points.

“I’m not worried about Daryl Morey. He’s one of those idiots who believes in analytics. He went out and got James Harden and Dwight Howard, and then he’s going to tell me that’s analytics? Then he went out and got Trevor Ariza. Then he went out and got Josh Smith. I’ve always believed analytics is crap. I’ve never mentioned the Rockets as a legitimate contender, because they’re not.

“Analytics don’t work at all. It’s just some crap that people who were really smart made up to try to get in the game because they had no talent. Because they had no talent to be able to play, so smart guys wanted to fit in, so they made up a term called analytics. Analytics don’t work.”

We’re not sure what set Barkley off, and naturally the pro-analytics crowd has been out in full force since his comments (because what would a Hall of Fame player know about what it takes to play in the NBA?), and we’re really not comfortable with him calling Morey an idiot (you can criticize someone for not playing well or doing their job well, but you don’t make it personal).

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a little bit truth in what Barkley had to say.

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One year ago, Browns fortunes took a turn for the better

ray farmer happy draftLike a dog working an old bone (and rest assured this dog is not named Swagger), we just can’t seem to let go of the media-driven narrative that Cleveland Browns headquarters in Berea is a flaming mess.

Especially as tomorrow marks an important turning point in the franchise’s fortunes.

The NFL, still smarting over the fact that they can’t penalize New England for taking air out of the footballs, and lacking any additional way to levy a fine on Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch, may decide to take out its frustration on Browns general manager Ray Farmer for his role in the in-game texting situation surrounding the Browns. (An investigation, we need to point out, that is still ongoing despite the fact that many have already tried and convicted everyone involved.)

Make no mistake, if the investigation turns out that Farmer was texting coaches during a game then that is, pure and simple, a stupid thing for Farmer to do. But that is all it is — a stupid act — and we’ve gone far beyond the point where people need to start trying to make this out to be anything else.

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