Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

Archive for the tag “Cleveland Browns”

Is the prevailing media narrative fair to Jimmy Haslam?

jimmy haslam media perceptionsA little more than two-and-a-half years ago a major shift in the fortunes of the Cleveland Browns took place when it was announced that Jimmy Haslam was buying the team from Randy Lerner.

The move was met with applause from a rabid fan base that was tired of seeing Cleveland’s undisputed No. 1 team being run by Lerner, who was always more of a caretaker of the franchise as opposed to an actual owner. No longer would fans have to concern themselves with Lerner living in New York City or flying to Birmingham, England, on the weekend to watch his other team, Aston Villa in the Premier League.

Now the Browns were going to run by a “hands-on” owner, one who had a minority stake in the Pittsburgh Steelers and had learned the “Steeler way” from the great and all-knowing Rooney family.

Fast forward 31 months and the narrative has definitely changed on Haslam as we can’t seemingly go a week without another media story painting the Browns as dysfunctional, toxic, a dumpster fire and everything in between — including the ridiculous notion that Haslam would trade his ownership of the Browns to take over the Tennessee Titans.

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From the editor’s notebook …

pettine and farmer

It is starting to sound more and more likely that the rest of the country will get an insider’s look at the Cleveland Browns as Cleveland’s undisputed No. 1 team is reportedly HBO’s top choice for this summer’s edition of Hard Knocks.

Well, ain’t that going to be a party?

In actuality, it may not be all that bad, as the show will give everyone some glamour shots of Cleveland, some really good Mike Pettine moments, and some pretty decent story lines, including:

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Talking ourselves into the Browns moves in free agency

Kansas City Chiefs v Buffalo BillsWith the second week of free agency in the NFL winding down, the only players left are the types that not even a bargain-basement shopping team like the Cleveland Browns would take a look at.

Which means we’ve transitioned into the part of free agency where Browns fans start to rationalize how the players the team has brought in will help the squad more than the players that walked out the door since the end of last season.

If you go by last season’s rankings at Pro Football Focus, the five main players that the Browns have signed – Tramon Williams, Dwayne Bowe, Randy Starks, Josh McCown and Brian Hartline – carry a collective ranking of -26.7. (That number is heavily weighed down by McCown’s ranking of -18.3, however).

That seems pretty depressing until you look at what the Browns “lost” in free agency. Jabaal Sheard, Miles Austin, Buster Skrine, Jordan Cameron, Ahtyba Rubin and Brian Hoyer carry a collective grade of -40.3 out of town.

While those rankings say that the Browns basically stood still in free agency, if you look at little bit deeper the picture looks a little differently. (See what we mean about the rationalizing?)

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John Hughes proves that sometimes you just never know

john hughes contractThe Cleveland Browns quietly signed defensive lineman John Hughes to a contract extension over the weekend.

The fact that the news was a bit under the radar is fitting for a player who during his time in Cleveland has pretty much just shown up and gone about his business, and who was selected as a Secret Superstar before last season by Pro Football Focus.

“It’s an amazing feeling,” Hughes told the team’s website. “For the Cleveland Browns to have the faith in me and believe in me to sign me a year early, it’s just a great feeling.”

The new deal is reportedly a four-year, $14.4 million contract with $12.8 million in base salary and $3.56 million guaranteed. The extension will pay Hughes an average of $4.8 million a year, a salary that places him in the top 20 of defensive tackles in the NFL.

Not bad for a player that was considered by many “draft experts” as a reach and further proof of former general manager Tom Heckert’s incompetence.

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On the Browns and the folly of spending big in free agency

brian hartline browns

Free agency started in the NFL this week and while they have been relatively quiet, the Cleveland Browns have managed to make their share of headlines in the past few days.

And in the process, the Browns may have discovered the franchise’s biggest asset.

The marquee signing, if you want to call it that, so far has been veteran wide receiver Brian Hartline, who spent the past six seasons with Miami. (What, you thought we were going to say Josh McCown?)

Hartline is a solid, if not spectacular, signing by the Browns and represents a younger and more durable version of Miles Austin. Hartline has only missed four games in his career (all in 2010), doesn’t turn the ball over (only three fumbles in his NFL career), has gained a first down on 71 percent of his receptions, and was a 1,000-yard receiver in both 2013 and 2012.

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From the editor’s notebook …

conflicted on the cavs

We were talking with some friends over the weekend about the current state of the Cleveland Cavaliers and wound up at the end of the night not really sure how we currently feel about the team.

Make no mistake, the Cavs are once again one of the most entertaining teams to watch when they have everything working. And you can’t really feel bad about the 20 wins in the past 25 games run the team is currently on.

The Cavs also looked so good when they took apart Golden State a couple of weeks ago and when they had a big road comeback against Toronto last week.

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Are we in the golden age of Cleveland coaching?

david blatt cavs

David Blatt seems to think so.

While Cleveland has gone a collective 145 years and counting without a championship from any of its three professional sports teams,* that doesn’t mean we haven’t see our share of quality men calling the shots in the dugout or on the sidelines.

And we might currently be in the golden age of Cleveland managers and coaches.

The argument for the greatest NFL head coach of all-time begins and ends, of course, with Paul Brown. If you went solely by his time in Cleveland, Brown’s .750 lifetime winning percentage would be third best in NFL history, behind only Guy Chamberlin and John Madden. (And ahead of a guy named Vince Lombardi; maybe you’ve heard of him.) But even adding in his time with Cincinnati, Brown still checks in at No. 11 on the all-time list.

New England’s Bill Belichick is rightfully considered the best coach currently in the NFL, but even Belichick has not taken the Patriots to 10 consecutive league title games, let alone win seven of them. As good as Belichick and Tom Brady are, they are not now, and never will be, Paul Brown and Otto Graham.

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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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