Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

From the editor’s notebook …

browns jets eveWith one game remaining in the regular season for the Cleveland Browns – and in Pittsburgh, no less. Happy Holidays! – there isn’t very much left to say about another dismal NFL campaign.

A six-game losing streak; five consecutive losses on the road; an offense that leads the NFL in pass attempts despite having Jason Campbell, Brandon Weeden and Brian Hoyer on the roster; a defense that has gotten worse as the season went along; we’ve seen it all before but somehow it seems worse this time around.

Coach Rob Chudzinski once again talked about the team’s resiliency in his Tuesday press conference, but with the team repeatedly coming up short his words are starting to sound a little hollow.

Rather than the coach, we’re drawn to the comments of the players following their latest loss, on Sunday to the Jets. And while some of what they had to say comes from frustration, it still gives us a bit of a pause:

“We got smacked. The team we have and the players we have, I was never expecting this. I wasn’t expecting the record to be like this.” – cornerback Joe Haden

“It was just a poor performance on the defensive side of the ball — flat out. There’s no way else to say it. We didn’t come ready to play. They handed it to us.” – linebacker D’Qwell Jackson

How do you not come prepared to play 16 weeks into the season?

“I think I just started pressing after the first half (when) it was 10-0 and then it was 10-10. We were looking at it like it should have been 21-0. I think I felt like we should’ve been scoring more points. Our opportunities were there. Like I said, I missed a couple of throws and we had a couple of drops. I think we just started to unravel a bit. But like I said, it starts with me as the leader, first and foremost. I just have to rally the guys around me, make sure I’m doing my job and make sure we’re in good position to score points.” – quarterback Jason Campbell

It’s great that Campbell comes across as a pro and is willing to shoulder the blame, but those are not the kind of words that one would expect to hear from a second-year quarterback, not a nine-year veteran.

We never want to see a Browns season come to an end, but we have to admit we’re looking forward a bit to 4 p.m. on Sunday. The front office has had its eye on 2014 ever since earlier this year, and the sooner we get there the better off everyone will (hopefully) be.

It’s going to be a Red Christmas

liverpool christmasLiverpool heads into Christmas Day tied with Arsenal at the top of the Premier League table in what has turned into the tightest top-flight race since Christmas Day 1974.

This is the first time they have been in first on Christmas since 2008 – when they also became the last team not to win the league after leading on Dec. 25. While things are breaking right for the Redthis week provides Brendan Rodgers’ squad with a prime opportunity to show everyone that they are serious about the title.

A Boxing Day match at Manchester City (one point behind) followed by Sunday’s away match at Chelsea (two points behind) will test the will of the club.

“In the two games we had against Manchester City last year, we were the better side, home and away,” Rodgers said. “We made mistakes that cost us and we ended up drawing the two games. They’ll know that we’re a good side, and that we arrive there in a really good moment. Our confidence is high, and everyone can see the bravery of our players to play football. The courage is there.

“We understand the size of the task. But it’s about the team. And our team at the moment has shown to be the best team over 17 games. So yes, we’re thin, we’ve got injuries, but it’s an opportunity that we’re really relishing.”

If Liverpool can make it to the New Year in one piece, they may have a shot at staying in the title race. Every day brings them one day closer to getting Daniel Sturridge and Steven Gerrard back from injury, the January transfer window may bring in some reinforcements and, in a year with no dominant team, having the best player in the league in Luis Suárez  means you will always have a chance.

“You don’t get the rewards at Christmas,” Rodgers said. “It is a nostalgic time and people always want to know where the team is at around Christmas Day. We want to be there but we want to be there at the end of the season and for that there is a lot of hard work ahead.

“We are top at Christmas, which is great, but we need to continue that run in the second half of the season.”

The run continues Thursday at the Etihad Stadium.

One step forward, two steps back

cavs eveIt just seems like every time the Cleveland Cavaliers appear to turn a corner they run into a brick wall.

Earlier this month the Cavs won three consecutive games, part of a streak that saw the team win five-of six.

But since then they have lost four-of-five, with the latest loss coming against Detroit in what turned into the Cavs worst home loss of the season (and which was preceded by a 16-point loss to an undermanned Chicago team).

“Our sense of urgency the last two ballgames has been nonexistent,” coach Mike Brown said in sounding like Rob Chudzinski. “Our grittiness, our sense of urgency, defensively, has not been there. Even some of the games we’ve won – Milwaukee, I don’t think it was there, we just outscored them. Portland, it wasn’t really there because of the way they beat us up on the glass. And I’m not sure why, right now, why we’re playing like that defensively.”

The good news for the Cavs is that, because the Eastern Conference is horrible, they are only one game out of a playoff spot and three games back of the No. 5 spot despite their 10-17 record.

The bad news is, this time next week the Browns season will be over and people will start paying attention to the Cavs, which may not be in the team’s best interest right now.

Holiday Wishes

We want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and hope that, wherever you are, you have the best time possible.

Let’s end this with a Buddhist saying for everyone:

May you be happy.

May you be safe.

May you be healthy.

May you live with ease.

Happy holidays everyone!

(Photos courtesy of Getty Images and The Associated Press)

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