Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

Johnny Manziel right where he needs to be – on the sidelines

johnny manziel frustrationCleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine caused a bit of a kerfuffle during his press conference today by mentioning that he senses that rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel if “frustrated.”

“Well, I just think that he’s quiet. I just think you feel it,” Pettine said. “I’d be shocked – maybe I’m imposing it on him – but you feel it because you know what kind of competitor he is. Here’s a guy that’s gone from the past how many falls being out there making plays to standing there and having to watch. The competitor that he is is one of the biggest reasons we brought him here. So if he didn’t feel that way, I’d be shocked.”

On a basic level it’s probably good that Manziel is frustrated – that shows he’s not willing to just hold a clipboard and collect a paycheck. But on a bigger level we’re not sure why this is still a topic of discussion among the media and certain segments of the fan base.

The Browns are playing entertaining football, are 3-1 at home, and have their best record after seven games since 2007, putting them on the fringes of playoff contention.

And they are doing it with Brian Hoyer at quarterback, who despite having a rough time of late, is still playing quarterback better than anyone we’ve seen since the Browns returned to town in 1999.

Why would anyone want the Browns to make a switch at this point in the season? More importantly, what evidence is there that anything would be any better with Manziel running the show?

Three teams are currently starting rookies at quarterback – Jacksonville, Minnesota and Oakland – and collectively they have won three games. Which, if you are scoring at home, is one less than the Browns have won with Hoyer running the offense.

While there is some merit to the argument that the Browns need to “see what they have” with Manziel, don’t they also have to see what they have in Hoyer, especially since he’s going to be a free agent at the end of this season?

The Browns have a real chance to make something special out of this season – especially if they can stabilize the center position and stop losing so many players to injury – that it simply makes no sense to pull Hoyer in favor of Manziel.

So let’s just enjoy things without worrying about the whole Hoyer or Manziel debate.

After all, it will be a moot point next spring after general manager Ray Farmer trades up in the draft to select Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota.

A turning point for Liverpool?

mario balotelli goal liverpoolIt may have been just one game, but we could also look back on it as a turning point in the season.

We’re talking about Liverpool’s 2-1 win over Swansea in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday, a game that saw Mario Balotelli end weeks of frustration by finally finding the back of the net for just his second goal of the season.

Balotelli may have been feeling the pressure of trying to fill the goal-scoring shoes of the departed Luis Suárez which, if so, means that Tuesday’s efforts could be one it takes for him to relax and just start playing his game.

“Getting that goal will be fantastic for his confidence,” said defender Kolo Toure. “He is a great player, he has just been lacking goals. We all know he’s a top player. I always tell him ‘you need to get out there and show you are one of the best players in the world.’ He has just been missing goals but they will come now.”

With Liverpool struggling to score goals in the continued absence of Daniel Sturridge, who hasn’t played since September because of thigh and calf problems that he believes may be caused by “Caribbean vibes,” the Reds need Balotelli to get it going if they are going to stay in the Premier League title race.

Despite not playing their best this season, especially on defense, Liverpool is in a three-way tie for fifth place, just two points back of fourth-place West Ham United.

It all starts tomorrow

We still can’t believe that in just a little more than 24 hours we will be watching LeBron James play an NBA game while once again wearing a Cleveland Cavaliers uniform.

To mark the occasion, we’ve rounded up some of the best minds on the Internet for a 5 Questions segment on the Cavs and the upcoming season, which is sure to be one of the most exciting in franchise history.

Watch this space tomorrow to see what they had to say.

(Photos courtesy of Getty Images and BPI)

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