Red Right 88

Life as a Cleveland Sports Fan

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16 observations on the Cleveland Browns 2014 schedule

Cleveland Browns Logo BadgeThe Cleveland Browns open training camp this week which means we are only 49 days away from the start of the 2014 NFL season.

The Browns will head into the season with a new coach, a new philosophy and (possibly) a new quarterback.

With that in mind, let’s take a quick look at the upcoming schedule with an observation or two about each team the Browns will face this year.

Week 1 at Pittsburgh: The last time the Browns opened the season on the road against the Steelers, they were led by a first-year, defensive-minded head coach. The result? A 51-0 beating of the Steelers to open the 1989 season.
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From the editor’s notebook …

luis suarez back sideLiverpool made it official on Friday, agreeing to a £75 million pound deal with Barcelona for striker Luis Suárez.

And so ends one of the more bizarre three years for a player and a club.

It’s hard to know how much Liverpool will miss Suárez, who is as talented as anyone playing the game when he wants to be. But the fact that the club no longer trust that Suárez won’t do something stupid on the pitch makes the move a necessary one. After his latest incident at the World Cup, it seems pretty clear that club officials decided they needed to do something while they could still get top value for Suárez. And it is not hard to think they felt a bit betrayed, as well, as the club has done nothing but support Suárez from the moment he arrived from Ajax in January 2011.

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Is Josh Gordon nearing the end of the line?

Josh Gordon, Ike TaylorThe news that Josh Gordon is once again in trouble with the law caught us by surprise – even though it should not have at this point.

When we first heard the reports that Gordon was stopped for speeding and arrested on DWI charges in Raleigh, we immediately thought the worse. We expected reports of radar readings of more than 100 mph and a blood-alcohol level off the charts. Then we read that he was going 50 mph in a 35-mph zone and was just a tick above the legal limit for alcohol in the state of North Carolina.

For a few seconds all we could think was that this kid just can’t catch a break. But the reality is that this is all his doing.

And now we’re worried that he is beyond help.

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Brian Hoyer in no rush for a new contract with Browns

brian hoyer contract talkThe Cleveland Browns have found themselves in a bit of a predicament when it comes to quarterback Brian Hoyer.

The team wants to sign Hoyer, who is entering the final year of his contract, to a new deal. That’s good. Even if Johnny Manziel lights it up during preseason and wins the starting quarterback job, it is in the Browns best interest to keep another viable starting quarterback on the roster.

And with today’s rookie contracts much more manageable, it is also financially feasible to do so, especially if the contracts signed by Matt Cassel (two years, $10 million) and Chad Henne (two years, $8 million) are starting points.

While the Browns are willing to deal, Hoyer may not be in quite such of a hurry.

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Should the Browns be more worried about Johnny Manziel?

manziel las vegasWhen the Cleveland Browns called Johnny Manziel’s name during the NFL Draft back in May, everyone involved knew what they were getting in to with the high-profile quarterback.

With very little actual football activities taking place since that day, the national media has had a field day chronicling Manziel’s off-the-field antics. From pool parties with Rob Gronkowski, to money phones and inflatable swans, there has been no shortage of talking points for those people who care about such things. And with a little more than a month until training camp starts, there will undoubtedly be more opportunities to shine a light on Manziel.

For the most part we’ve tried to drown out the noise, partially because as a Browns fan we’d be perfectly happy if the national media minded their own business, and also because it is the off-season and what Manziel does with his free time is up to him.

But is there possibly more to this situation, a darker side that, as a Browns fan, we don’t want to confront?

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From the editor’s notebook …

david blatt cavsThe Cleveland Cavaliers landed their man on Friday, naming David Blatt as the team’s latest head coach.

We admit to knowing next to nothing about Blatt before the Cavs undertook their third head coaching search in the past four years. But the more we learn about him the more we are intrigued by the hiring.

Blatt comes to the Cavs fresh off leading Maccabi Tel Aviv to the Euroleague championship. His coaching job in the tournament led one NBA general manager to observe that “Maccabi was outgunned at every position except coach. David took down two Goliaths in a weekend. He belongs in the NBA.” (h/t to @WFNYJacob for the link to that story.)

Over the past four seasons, Blatt’s teams went 222-55 and, in addition to this year’s Euroleague title, won the Israeli Cup and Israeli league title. He’s been a head coach in Europe for 15 years and coached the Russian national team from 2006 to 2012. (So at least he will be used to the harsh winter weather in Northeast Ohio.)

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Spanning the AFC North

Jamoris Slaughter

We hardly knew you, Jamoris Slaughter.

As the Cleveland Browns prepare for their three-day mandatory minicamp this week – the final time the team will be together before the start of training camp in July, the team continues to tweak the roster and purge it of marginal players signed by Joe Banner and Mike Lombardi.

Last week it was the release of outside linebacker Quentin Groves, brought it last year because he knew Ray Horton’s defense. With Horton now in Tennessee and Groves limited last season due to injuries, there was no longer a spot on the roster for him.

On Monday, it was safety Jamoris Slaughter, who the Browns drafted in the sixth round of the 2013 NFL Draft after Slaughter missed all but three games of his senior season at Notre Dame. Slaughter spent all of last season in injured reserve as he tried to come back from an Achilles tendon tear.

The move leaves just four players from the 2013 draft: linebacker Barkevious Mingo, cornerback Leon McFaddene (who may not have a spot on the roster come September), seventh-round defensive lineman Armonty Bryant and seventh-round offensive lineman Garrett Gilkey.

Quite an impressive haul from the first (and only) draft from Banner and Lombardi in Cleveland.

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We’ve been doing the fan thing wrong all these years

red right 88We have been a Cleveland sports fan our entire life. And while there have been more disappointments than triumphs, we’ve never thought about being anything other than a Cleveland sports fan.

It hasn’t been easy, of course. And looking back over the decades, the level of sub-par play from the local sports teams has, if we’re being honest, rather depressing more often than not.

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From the editor’s notebook …

manziel las vegas“There is something un-American about a young man not wanting to spend time with the ladies.” – Joe Namath

When the Cleveland Browns selected quarterback Johnny Manziel in the NFL Draft a few weeks ago the team knew what it was getting itself into with Manziel, who is a modern-day Joe Namath in terms of publicity.

Last week it was Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback report that Manziel “never had a playbook” while at Texas A&M. Of course, the Aggies had a weekly game plan with actual plays that Manziel was expected to learn and execute, which, as Eric Davis pointed out one morning on the NFL Network, is the same as having an actual playbook! (That is one of the reasons we enjoy the NFL Network over ESPN; instead of trying to be the loudest (and stupidest) person in the conversation, Davis, Steve Wyche, Terrell Davis and the rest of the rotating panel on NFL A.M. actually talk to one another in an effort to make sense.)

Then, over the weekend, came the news that Manziel spent his holiday in Las Vegas; hanging out with New England’s Rob Gronkowski, attending a UFC fight, joining in at a pool party and generally doing the kinds of things that people do when they visit Las Vegas.

Manziel also did one more thing over the weekend (at least according to him) – he studied his playbook as he prepares for the next round of OTAs with the Browns.

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Browns wide receiver search mirroring QB quandary

browns release greg littleThe Cleveland Browns continued to rebuild and reshape their wide receiver corps this week as they wait for official word on the future of Josh Gordon.

The Browns released fourth-year wide receiver Greg Little on Friday in a bit of a surprise move, if only because the position chart is a bit questionable right now. Little had a disappointing three seasons in Cleveland after being drafted in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft out or North Carolina. While he came across as a player who always gave a good effort on game day, Little just wasn’t very productive.

He finishes his Cleveland career with 155 receptions (and seemingly almost as many drops), 1,821 yards and eight touchdowns. Both his receptions and yards decreased each year he was with the Browns, and his 14 dropped passes as a rookie with the second-highest in the league. He also ran the second-most pass routes in 2013, but somehow 102 players managed to gain more receiving yards than him.

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