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Life as a Cleveland Sports Fan

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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Liverpool keeping pressure on Chelsea, but Man City looms

suarez sturridge goalsLiverpool took care of business on Saturday, beating Cardiff City 6-3 in a match that ended up being very entertaining.

The win keeps the pressure on Chelsea, who still sit at the top of the Premier League table after they beat Arsenal 6-0. (Good job, good effort by the Gunners in Arsene Wenger’s 1,000th game in charge).

This weekend’s results leave Liverpool in second place, just four points back of Chelsea and with a game in hand. Liverpool will make that game up on Wednesday night and, if they can pull of their seventh consecutive win, Liverpool will head into the season’s final seven games just one point back of Chelsea.

Despite all that, Liverpool’s title hopes are still a bit dodgy, especially when you do the math and factor in Manchester City.

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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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From the editor’s notebook …

Man U Liverpool LiveAfter five years of frustration, Liverpool walked out of Old Trafford on Sunday with their first road win against Manchester United since 2009.

The 3-0 beating pushes Liverpool 14 points clear of United in the Premier League table and, more importantly, leaves the Reds just four points back of league-leaders Chelsea (and holding a game in hand). With a spot in next year’s Champions League almost locked up with nine games to go in the season, the question now becomes: can Liverpool claim its first Premier League title in 24 years?

Captain Steven Gerrard thinks so.

“We’ve showed today that we are genuine contenders and we are going to fight to the end for this,” he said in published reports. “We believe it, but I’ve said many times that in football the easiest thing to do is talk the talk. We’ve got to go and treat Cardiff like Manchester United and we’ve got to treat Sunderland like Manchester United. If we do we will win a lot of games until the end of the season. The rest of the teams around us have to believe we’re going for it.”

The win was Liverpool’s fifth consecutive in the league – they haven’t lost since their Dec. 29 match with Chelsea – and the club has taken 26 points out of its past 10 games.

And much of the credit goes to manager Brendan Rodgers.

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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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Browns being smart – so far – in free agency

browns sign karlos dansbyThe Cleveland Browns had a nice start to free agency on Tuesday, agreeing to deals with inside linebacker Karlos Dansby and safety Donte Whitner.

Both move makes sense and give us confidence that the new regime of general manager Ray Farmer and head coach Mike Pettine may actually know what they are doing. They could undo that feeling with one reported move, which we will get to in a moment.

Dansby comes over from Arizona at a cost of $24 million over four years, with $14 million guaranteed. He had a career year in 2013, finishing with 122 tackles, 6.5 sacks and four interceptions, returning two of them for touchdowns.

Even though he is older than the player he replaces, D’Qwell Jackson, Dansby is a better player and will cost the Browns less over the next two years than they would have paid Jackson. So that’s a win. And while Dansby may be too old to contribute once the Browns get good, you could probably say the same about Jackson.

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5 Questions: Cleveland Browns free agency edition

Cleveland Browns Logo BadgeThe NFL officially opens free agency on Tuesday at 4 p.m. and with the Cleveland Browns having several holes to fill and even more money to spend, it could be a big week for everyone’s favorite team.

With a new management team in place in general manager Ray Farmer and head coach Mike Pettine, it is a bit of a mystery just what the Browns will do. Will they try to win the off-season? Or will they take a more conservative approach, saving their big moves for the NFL Draft in May?

To get ready for the spending frenzy that may be about to kick off, we brought together some of the best Browns minds on the Internet to look at the situation in the latest installment of 5 Questions in 5 Minutes. This feature previously ran on Cleveland Reboot, but after Dave Kolonich opted for early retirement, he was gracious enough to let us continue the series.

Today’s participants are:

Jeff Rich, a writer at More Than a Fan – Cleveland and co-host of College Football Roundtable and Time & Change. He can be found on Twitter @JRichRadio.

Dave Kolonich, the former writer of Cleveland Reboot. He has also written for The Orange and Brown Report, Scout.com, Fox Sports Ohio and a variety of websites. He can be found on Twitter @DaveKolonich.

Kanicki, the author/proprietor of jimkanicki.com and can be found on Twitter @jimkanicki.

Murray Alexander, a Scotland-based writer at East of Ehlo and The Factory of Sadness. He can be found on Twitter @SadFactory. (He’s also an Arsenal fan, but we’re willing to overlook that.)

Jonathan Knight, one of the leading authorities on Cleveland sports history. He is the author of Kardiac Kids, Sundays in the Pound, and The Browns Bible, among other works. He can be found on Twitter @jknightwriter.

Mike Krupka, a writer for Dawgs by Nature and contributor of college scouting pieces to The OBR. He can be found on Twitter @MikeKrupka.

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From the editor’s notebook …

tribe starting pitchingThe Cleveland Indians are just 22 days away from the opening of the 2014 season and so far they are only having the good kind of spring training problems.

The Tribe hasn’t had to deal with any major injury issues; the outfield rotation is looking good, particularly left fielder Michael Brantley, who is now hitting .615 in Cactus League play after going four-for-four on Saturday; Carlos Santana is doing what he can in the field at third base; reliever Vinnie Pestano seems to be on the right track to fixing what ailed him last season; and, most importantly, the starting pitching is looking solid.

The top three of Justin Masterson, Corey Kluber and Zach McCallister have quietly gone about their business this spring, and with Danny Salazar expected to make his first start with the regulars on Monday, the rotation is shaping up nicely.

The best part of the rotation may be at the No. 5 spot, of all places, as is it looks like manager Terry Francona is going to have a hard decision to make when it comes time to make the final roster decisions.

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