Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

Archive for the category “5 Questions”

5 Questions – Tribe Home Opener Edition

opening day 5 questionsThe Cleveland Indians enter the 2015 season carrying some heavy expectations for a club that was just 85-77 a year ago.

Several national experts have predicted the Tribe will claim a playoff spot this season and at least one – Sports Illustrated – has tapped the Tribe to capture the World Series for the first time since 1948.

That may seem like a tall order when you consider that the Tribe plays in the same division as Detroit – which has claimed the A.L. Central Division title four consecutive years — and Kansas City – the reigning American League pennant holders. But the Royals and San Francisco, last year’s champion, illustrate a new truth in baseball.

The Royals won 89 games last season and the Giants won 88, both making the playoffs through the Wild Card and then got hot. Baseball, like the NFL and NBA, is now all about making the playoffs and then seeing what happens. So if the Tribe can just add four wins to their total this season — just a little more than one every two months — that should be enough to compete for a playoff spot.

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How do you feel about the team of Farmer and Pettine?

mike-pettine-jimmy-haslam-nfl-tampa-bay-buccaneers-cleveland-browns-850x560It was one year ago that the Cleveland Browns made what could turn out to be a franchise-altering decision in hiring head coach Mike Pettine.

The club continued to move away from the stale notion that Berea is a “toxic situation” where “dysfunction” runs rampant a few weeks later when owner Jimmy Haslam showed Joe Banner and Mike Lombardi the door while simultaneously elevating Ray Farmer to the position of general manager.

Thinks haven’t been perfectly smooth, of course, as Farmer and Pettine have worked their way through their first year together.

Farmer’s two first-round draft picks, Justin Gilbert and Johnny Manziel, have yet to show that they are serious about wanting to put in the work needed to be professionals.

Pettine had his rough moments on the sidelines during the season, most notably when he decided it was a good idea to try a 60-yard field goal at the end of the first half in Atlanta.

But both men have shown they have the ability to balance out and, hopefully in the future, tip the scales far more in favor of the Browns.

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Which positions do the Browns most need to upgrade?

Ahtyba Rubin, Michael Vick

Ahtyba Rubin. Nice effort. Big contract. New home in 2015?

The Cleveland Browns tested the mantra of “next man up” during the 2014 NFL season.

Injuries hit the team hard, most notably when center Alex Mack was lost for the year with a broken leg, but the hardest hit area may have been the defensive line. At one point or another during the season, Phil Taylor, Ahtyba Rubin, John Hughes and Armonty Bryant all missed time due to injury.

Those injuries, especially the ones along the defensive line, revealed a hard truth — while depth is nice, if your front line players are just average and they go down with an injury, there is going to be a noticeable drop-off when the second string is forced into action.

The Browns will enter free agency and subsequent NFL Draft with holes to fill and money to spend. While the franchise had the highest adjusted salary cap in the NFL for 2014 at $157.42 million, the Browns are estimated to have about $48 million in projected cap space once all the accounting is done for the year.

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Which of their own free agents should the Browns keep?

New Orleans Saints v Cleveland Browns

A restricted free agent, Tashaun Gibson made the Pro Bowl after tying for second in the NFL in interceptions.

With only one game remaining on the NFL calendar, thoughts in Cleveland have started to turn to everyone’s favorite subject: the NFL Draft.

But before we can get to what has annually turned into the Browns version of the Super Bowl, the franchise has to work its way through free agency.

In addition to trying to solve the ongoing quarterback problem, which could include free agent Brian Hoyer into the equation, the Browns have several other decisions to make on their 11 other unrestricted free agents and five restricted free agents.

Among the questions that general manager Ray Farmer and head coach Mike Pettine will work though in the coming weeks include:

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Is next year’s starting QB currently on Browns roster?

browns quarterback situation

Johnny, be a lamb and grab that Roman Burger out of my bag.

The Cleveland Browns found themselves caught in a tale of two-and-a-half quarterbacks in 2014.

Through the early part of the season, Brian Hoyer looked to be writing the kind of “hometown kid makes good” story that everyone loves, with his play bringing about talk of a contract extension and the requisite stability for a player who had bounced around the league.

Even after the season-ending injury to Alex Mack started to derail the season, Hoyer did what he could to keep the offense on track. A nationally televised beating of Cincinnati and a game-winning drive against Atlanta had the Browns at 7-4 and dreaming of division titles and the playoffs.

But even from those lofty heights their were warning signs.

Hoyer followed-up the Atlanta win with a poor showing in Buffalo, a game that culminated a three-game stretch that saw Hoyer post the worst three-game stretch by a quarterback since 2007, according to Pro Football Focus, as he threw six interceptions against just one touchdown while seeing the Browns drop two-of-three.

After throwing for just 136 yards, and being picked off twice, in what was a winnable game against Indianapolis, Hoyer left head coach Mike Pettine no choice but to turn to an unready Johnny Manziel with the Bengals coming to town.

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Who should the Browns hire to replace Kyle Shanahan?

browns lose billsThe Cleveland Browns entered the 2014 season with high hopes for an offense led by coordinator Kyle Shanahan.

For the first few weeks of the season that belief was rewarded as the Browns were averaging 26.8 points per game and running the ball effectively under Shanahan’s zone-blocking scheme.

Things took a turn for the worst, however, after the team lost center Alex Mack to a broken leg during the Week 5 win against Pittsburgh. Suddenly, the running game struggled, quarterback Brian Hoyer wasn’t as effective running the play-action portion of the offense, and the lack of production started to slowly bring the team down.

It go so bad that the Browns were forced to turn to an unready Johnny Manziel with three games remaining on the schedule. The results were disastrous.

Once the season ended, Shanahan waited until head coach Mike Pettine left town to start calling around looking for another job – despite still being under contract with the Browns.

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Is the Browns victory train getting any closer to the station?

Following the completion of today’s conference championship games, we will have reached that portion of the calendar where there is only one meaningful game left before closing the books on the 2014 NFL season.

Of course, this being Cleveland, we’re already a few weeks past the final game for the Cleveland Browns and now stand roughly eight months away from the team’s next meaningful game.

We started thinking about where the Browns have been and where they are headed this past week when Cat Stevens’ Peace Train  came on the radio, with a particular lyric catching our attention:

Now I’ve been smiling lately,
thinking about the good things to come.
And I believe it could be,
something good has begun.

As those words started to sink in, we realized that despite yet another disappointing end to the season, we’re starting to feel pretty good about the direction the team is heading.

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