Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

Archive for the month “January, 2014”

How to fix the Cleveland Browns in 10 easy steps

Cleveland Browns Logo BadgeJonathan Knight, author of several books including Sundays in the Pound and Kardiac Kids, spoke Wednesday evening at the Hudson Library and Historical Society.

During an entertaining hour-long presentation, Knight, who started a newsletter about the Cleveland Browns when he was 8 years old, pointed out that while the Browns are very good at reminding everyone that they were once a winning franchise, team officials don’t look to the past when building the current team, resulting in the poor product that fans witness week after week and year after year.

“This presentation is going to be like The DaVinci Code,” Knight said. “If you look into the nooks and crannies of Browns history, we can find clues that tell us what the team is doing wrong and why they are failing.”

Knight then laid out his 10 (mostly) tongue-in-cheek steps to fix the Browns (everything in quote marks is from Knight):

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Cavs seeing their season slipping away

cavs losing seasonA few weeks, or in some cases even just a few days, can make a big difference during the season for a professional sports team.

Don’t believe us? Just ask Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Mike Brown or anyone affiliated with the team.

When the Cavs were able to turn an immature, injured and malcontented Andrew Bynum into the talented Luol Deng on Jan. 7, the deal left many fans believing that the Cavs, while maybe not turning the corner on the season, were at least ready to occupy a better place in the NBA landscape.

The believe was strengthened when the Cavs went a respectable 3-2 on Deng’s first road trip with the team and returned home with a renewed sense that the playoffs were a possibility in the weak Eastern Conference.

Then the past eight days happened.

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On the Browns and final roster control

browns roster controlThe Cleveland Browns finally ended their latest coaching search, one that was both lengthy and, at times, laborious, with the hiring Mike Pettine on Thursday.

Throughout the entire process there was much discussion, debate and hand-wringing over the current state of the team and the direction the franchise is heading. One topic that we heard repeatedly was the notion that no coach would want to work for the Browns because they would have to “give up” control of the roster to CEO Joe Banner and General Manager Mike Lombardi.

Pettine was asked about having final say over the roster during his introductory news conference and his non-answer that the details are “still being worked out” only helped to stoke the fire over who’s in control in Berea.

When Banner was first hired by the Browns, this is what he told The Plain Dealer when asked about who will have final say on the team’s 53-man roster:

“We’ll determine that officially when we see who’s in those roles. My bias is for the coach to make those decisions. Now, we may end up with somebody in personnel who’s so good that I tweak that, but going in, my bias is that the coach will have the most say on the 53-man roster and the 45 who dress for games.”

That sounds to us like Banner would like to have the coach be the main voice when it comes to the final roster, but he’s not comfortable allowing that to happen until the head coach earns his trust. (Of course, firing your coach every year contributes heavily to any trust issues, so …)

So that got us to thinking about whether this whole issue about final say over the roster is a big deal or, as it happens too often in Cleveland, much ado about nothing? How do other teams in the NFL do this, especially the successful ones?

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Only time will tell if Browns made right hire in Pettine

browns hire pettineThe Cleveland Browns ended our long national nightmare on Thursday, naming Mike Pettine as the team’s head coach.

It is the first head coaching job on the NFL level for Pettine, a longtime defensive coach, but the second head coach hiring in as many years for Browns owner Jimmy Haslam.

“We are thrilled to announce Mike Pettine as the new head coach of the Cleveland Browns,” Haslam said at Thursday’s press conference announcing the hiring. (Has an owner ever not be thrilled at one of these?) “Mike is the epitome of what we want the Browns to be — tough, aggressive and innovative — with a blue-collar, team-first mentality. He knows what’s necessary to beat teams in the AFC North. Most importantly, Mike has repeatedly shown the ability to lead his players to consistent improvement and success, clearly what we are striving for as he leads the Cleveland Browns moving forward.”

Pettine hit all the right notes in his introductory news conference, but there is no way of knowing, yet, if he is the coach who will finally get things turned around for the Browns. After all, the Browns have now hired nine head coaches under three different ownership groups since firing Marty Schottenheimer following the 1988 season and every one of them was supposed to be “the guy.” And, for a variety of reasons, every single one of them failed.

So why will Pettine be different?

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Searching for answers in the latest Browns coaching search

NFL: Buffalo Bills-Training CampThe Cleveland Browns have now gone – gasp! – 24 days and counting without a head coach.

In the that time, the playoffs have gone along and we are now down to two teams. The college bowl season wrapped up and … that’s about it, really.

The Browns haven’t won or lost a game, haven’t drafted a player or signed one in free agency; basically they have been operating like every other team that is not in the playoffs. They are just currently doing it without a coaching staff, which, apparently, means the world is coming to an end in Berea. (Or at least more so than usual.)

We commented on Twitter earlier today that Cleveland is the only place where being methodical is seen as a sign of incompetence and weakness. When the team fired head coach Rob Chudzinski after the season-ending loss to Pittsburgh, owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner promised fans that they would take their time on this search and, so far, they have been true to their word. Yet people are freaking out left and right because the Browns haven’t hired anyone.

It’s time to take a stiff drink, Browns fans, calm down, and let’s see if we can try to figure out where the Browns are right now and just how panicked everyone should really be.

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It’s time for the Browns to make their move on a head coach

browns need dan quinnThe Cleveland Browns are entering the third week of their latest coaching search, one that has taxed the patience of many a Browns fan.

And while we’ve been on board with the team being patient and looking at a variety of candidates – owner Jimmy Haslam isn’t running out of any meetings to rashly hire a new coach the way Randy Lerner once did for Eric Mangini – it’s time for the team to end this. And Sunday’s NFC Championship Game showed us everything we needed to see:

The Browns need to hire Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn as their next head coach.*

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From the editor’s notebook …

davone bess troubleIt was quite the week for Cleveland Browns wide receiver Davone Bess, one where every time you thought you’d heard it all something new would come out.

Things started when Bess was arrested on Friday at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and charged with simple assault on an officer, disorderly conduct and resisting an officer without violence. It then escalated on Saturday when Bess posted a naked photo of himself on Twitter; later in the day Coral Springs police officers came to the hotel where Bess was staying at on Saturday for what police are calling a medical call.

Then there is the fact that this isn’t the first time that Bess has had a problem. In March, it took six Broward County sheriff’s deputies to restrain Bess at his home. According to police reports, Bess was allegedly screaming, “Hide the guns!” “Where is my weed?” and “I want to get in the end zone; throw me the football!” That incident did not come to light until Friday afternoon, which will be an important point to remember in a moment.

There are three takeaways from the ongoing situation with Bess, the first dealing with Bess himself.

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Cleveland is ground zero for dysfunctional franchises

cleveland dysfunctionAs the Cleveland Browns coaching search marches along to what we all assume will eventually turn into a coaching hire (we’re pretty sure the NFL bylaws require teams to have a head coach) the Browns have turned into a punchline, both nationally and locally.

The situation has been described as being “radioactive,” with a front office known for its “shadiness,” and some have even gone as far as to suggest that new uniforms will entice a quality coach to take over the team.

The thing is, as dysfunctional as the Browns may appear to be, it’s not anything we haven’t seen before in Cleveland. And, truth be told, the Browns are not the only dysfunctional franchise in town, at least from a historical perspective.

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From the editor’s notebook …

26-Oct-10_98597085CG118_Cleveland_Bro_crop_450x500Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam dropped a letter to season-ticket holders on Wednesday outlining just what the Browns are up to with their ongoing search for a new coach.

And while Haslam’s letter lacked the playful whimsy of the infamous Comic Sans letter that Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert sent a few years ago, it did contain a couple of items that are important to remember.

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Browns coaching search has everyone terribly vexed

2013_08_browns_scheduleThe Cleveland Browns coaching search is two weeks old now and the team has not made a decision yet on who will replace the fired Rob Chudzinski.

Whether or not owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner are any closer to finding Chudzinksi’s replacement is still unclear and while the situation is less than ideal, it may not be as dire as many are making it out to be.

But there is little doubt that the past two weeks have certainly left everyone so terribly, terribly vexed.

There are things that are known about the coaching search, while there are probably just as many things that people assume to know. While what we know is a pretty straight forward question to answer; what it all means may prove to be a bit trickier of a question.

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