Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

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.

In the letter Haslam writes that the Browns are a “very attractive position” for a coach looking for a team, in particular because they currently have a roster that boasts of five Pro Bowl players. If that is not enough of an enticement, Haslam pointed out that the Browns have the second-most cap space in the NFL. In addition, Haslam highlighted the fact that the Browns have five of the top 83 selections in the upcoming NFL draft.

Those two statements carry the implied promise to a new coach – and more importantly, to the team’s fans, namely that:

  • the Browns will actually use some of the cap space in an attempt to improve the team,
  • the Browns will retain Alex Mack and T.J. Ward, two of the aforementioned Pro Bowlers, and two players are set to become free agents in March,
  • the Browns will be active participants in this year’s draft, unlike last year when they mostly took the weekend off.

Candidly, there’s no way that Haslam would try selling any other path to a new coach and the fans, would he?

As for the actual coaching situation, the Browns are now reportedly looking to interview Mike Pettine, currently the defensive coordinator for the Buffalo Bills.

Pettine knows the AFC North after working as an assistant coach in Baltimore from 2002 to 2008, before moving on to the Jets. Last season, his first in Buffalo, the Bills were 10th overall in defense, while finishing second in interceptions and sacks.

In was also a defense that gave up 24 points per game (the Browns gave up 25) and lost to Brandon Weeden in Week 5. Make of that what you will.

While the Browns have been ridiculed by locally and nationally for taking their time while searching for a coach, rather than offering the job to the first candidate that flashed them a little bit of thigh, Don Banks at Sports Illustrated actually thinks the Browns may be on to something here (h/t @RyInCBus), writing that:

Quite the concept. But why isn’t it more common? Why is it in the NFL that most teams will spend months preparing for the draft, and weeks and weeks diving into free agency research and preparation, but then feel the need to invest only a handful of days into a critically important head coaching search? Isn’t picking your next head coach at least as important as picking your next crop of players?

I’ve never thought of them this way before, but the Browns might be the smart ones here. They’re taking their time to find a head coach. At least this time. They’re determined to find the right guy. Even if he’s not available right now.

Whether or not the Browns are taking their time by design or are being forced by circumstances, there’s no doubt that they have to get this hiring right. And if they do manage to pull this off, all the angst and anxiety over this coaching search will be something we will all laugh about.

Chris Grant did not approve this message

How bad has it been for Anthony Bennett, the rookie forward the Cleveland Cavaliers selected with the No. 1 overall pick in last summer’s NBA Draft?

Try really bad. As in, historically bad.

According to a story at Bleacher Report, Bennett’s 1.1 Player Efficiency Rating is currently the worst for a player selected with the No. 1 overall pick in the past 24 years. Bennett easily outpaces Kwame Brown, who is in second place with a PER of 11.2.

The good news is that Bennett has nowhere to go but up, yes? Because if the opposite is true, it’s just another sign that the Browns are not the only dysfunctional franchise in town.

Time to tread lightly

With the Premier League season now past the halfway mark, Liverpool has transitioned from early season surprise to what appears to be a solid squad that finds itself in the thick of the title race.

But while they are only six points off the pace set by league-leaders Arsenal, the Reds need to be careful they don’t their grip on a Champions League spot.

We break it down further in our latest post at World Soccer Talk.

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