Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

Archive for the category “bad reporting”

Haven’t we covered all of this already?

We came across a ridiculous news item today from Fox Sports stating that Browns owner Randy Lerner “might” reach out to Bill Cowher and give the former Steelers coach a big-money contract to coach the Browns in 2011.

We’re not even going to link to the report because it is too absurd on multiple levels.

Why would Lerner, after going through the trouble of hiring Mike Holmgren to run the team, turn around and try to make a deal for a new coach behind Holmgren’s back?

And more importantly, why would the Browns be looking for a new coach?

We’ve been critical of Browns coach Eric Mangini in the past, but before the season started we said we’d wipe the slate clean because the Browns had a structure in place to allow the coaches to succeed. And it’s impossible to have watched the Browns through the first 12 weeks of the season and not see the progress the team has made.

They’ve gone through all three quarterbacks on the roster because of injuries, have played the toughest schedule in the NFL and consider that:

  • If Chansi Stuckey doesn’t fumble against the Jets, the Browns win in OT
  • If Sheldon Brown or someone tackles Maurice Jones-Drew, the Browns beat the Jaguars
  • If Jake Delhomme wasn’t Jake Delhomme – and let’s face it, Delhomme and interceptions go together like rum & Coke, you can’t have one without the other – the Browns beat Tampa

Add those three games to the win column and suddenly the Browns are battling for the division and a playoff spot. Now they didn’t win those games, but that’s how far this team has come since last season.

Consider the St. Louis Rams. People are falling over themselves because rookie quarterback Sam Bradford has the Rams in first place … with a 5-6 record. You don’t think the Browns would own the NFC West if they played in that division?

Is Mangini a perfect coach? Of course not. But you know what? There’s no such thing. Mike Shanahan likes to tell you how great he is, but he never won anything without John Elway. As good as Bill Belichick is as a coach, the one year he had to play without Tom Brady the Patriots didn’t make the playoffs.

Even Jon Gruden, who so many people are sure is coming to Cleveland, only won a Super Bowl because he had Tony Dungy’s players.

And let’s not forget that Romeo Crennel, bless his heart, got four years as coach of the Browns.

In some ways it’s not surprising that the national media continues to beat the anti-Mangini drum. They don’t watch the games each week, they just catch a few highlights and look at the Browns 4-7 record and conclude he’s out the door.

What’s worse is when the local media, who presumably do watch every game, come to the same conclusion. Today’s example is Marla Ridenour of The Beacon Journal, who has determined that Mangini’s job rides on the final five games of the season.

“Finishing 6-10, a mere one-game improvement over last season, probably won’t be enough to save Mangini unless team president Mike Holmgren forsees a lockout in 2011,” Ridenour writes. “Perhaps even 7-9 won’t cut it.”

“How will close but no cigar fly with Holmgren? Will five losses by seven points or less, three by four points or less, be considered a positive or a negative? Can Mangini play the cupboard-is-still-bare card? Or will coming close reflect poorly on the game-day skills of he and his staff? Could he use it to his advantage that all three quarterbacks suffered high ankle sprains?”

So 7-9, after a 1-5 start, after the yearlong quarterback carousel, after the toughest schedule in the league, won’t cut it?

But wait, there’s more!

“There are signs that Mangini might save the life preserver for himself. On Sunday, he said he should have overruled defensive coordinator Rob Ryan’s call on rookie Jimmy Clausen’s 28-yard sideline pass to Brandon LaFell that set up John Kasay’s 42-yard game-winning field goal attempt. Before the play, the Browns took a timeout with 12 seconds remaining. After LaFell made the catch and supposedly rolled out of bounds, which stood up to a replay review, four seconds remained.”

Of course, if the refs had made the right call and ruled LaFell down in bounds time would have run out and this would be even more of a non-issue. Plus Mangini has never come across as the type of coach who points fingers. The team seems to have the proper attitude of “win as a team, lose as a team.”

The media is trying to have it both ways now. Last year they criticized Mangini, with some validity, because he was too tight-lipped and abrasive with the media. This year he’s been more open, within reason, with trying to explain what the Browns are doing and trying to accomplish. And so they misconstrue that as Mangini trying to save himself at the expense of others.

The media also went into the season with a certain win total that the Browns had to achieve or else and they are sticking to that figure. Never mind looking at the whole picture, someone decided in the preseason that 7 wins was the number and nothing will take them off that train of thought.

The thing is, it’s all so unnecessary. If this team was a mess and was embarrassing itself each week and not competing, that would be one thing. But that’s just not the case.

It makes us wonder if we’re all watching the same game on Sundays.

***

Two One Six Sports is on the same page here.

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Welcome to Thunderdome at the Q

We’re still a week away from LeBron James making his first visit back to Cleveland with the Miami Heat and the national media is already gearing up with the anti-Cleveland propaganda.

In the wake of the news that the Cavs are going to ban controversial signs and apparel for the game, ESPN’s Chris Broussard took that rather predictable news and ran it off in a ridiculous direction:

“… the Cavaliers and the NBA are doing all they can to make sure the emotional and hostile scene does not turn ugly,” Broussard wrote.

Hostile scene? The game hasn’t even taken place yet, what “hostile scene” are we talking about here? Are we no longer allowed to boo?

Broussard continues:

“The Cavaliers have been one of the few NBA teams to have metal detectors at every arena entrance since Dan Gilbert bought the club more than five years ago, but they will go beyond that on Dec. 2.”

Yes, let’s make sure to bring up that the Q has metal detectors. Has no relation, really, to the story, but it feeds Broussard’s preconceived desire to make attending a game in Cleveland akin to walking through a combat zone.

And as we learned during LeBron’s free agency, no Broussard story would be complete without an anonymous quote:

“Honestly, I’m a little bit afraid,” one member of the Cavs organization said. “Some people don’t care. Their mentality is ‘‘I’ve got to get this off my chest.’ There’s so much negative energy around this game. People aren’t excited about the game itself. They’re just like, ‘‘I can’t wait to do something.'”

Oh, c’mon. Since when did attending a game at the Q turn into an Italian soccer game?

Thankfully the Cavs have things under control:

“We don’t want to create a police state,” said Tad Carper, the Cavaliers’ senior vice president of communications. “We’ve always had a real energetic, super-charged home crowd and we want to encourage that for every game, including Dec. 2. We want people to enjoy themselves and express themselves, but we don’t want fans to cross the boundaries of decency. We’re not going to allow profanity and things like that. We’ll have no tolerance for anyone trying to cross those boundaries.”

We probably shouldn’t be surprised by this type of sensationalized garbage from ESPN,; after all they are the same group that brought us Rob Parker’s nonsense following the Browns-Jets game.

And the worst part is the game is still a week away.

Look, we’re Cleveland fans; we know how to handle this. We didn’t burn down Jacobs Field the first time Albert Belle came back with the White Sox. There wasn’t looting and rioting in the streets the first time the Ravens came to town after moving to Baltimore. We’ve been through this before.

Unfortunately the national media won’t recognize that no matter what happens next Thursday.

The Strange Tale of "Slow" Joe Haden

Media personality* Mike Lombardi had an interesting notebook item in his latest column on NFL.com:

“According to coaches around the league, Browns first-round pick Joe Haden has not been very impressive in camps and might not have enough speed to play corner. Maybe all that talk about some in the organization wanted to take Kyle Wilson over Haden was true.”

So Lombardi has talked to other coaches in the league, who somehow have witnessed or seen film from Browns practices, which are private, and have determined that Haden is too slow to play cornerback in the league. And they were able to do this without seeing him perform in pads at full speed.

Very impressive.

This shouldn’t be surprising coming from media personality* Mike Lombardi, as he was critical of Haden prior to the draft, writing that:

“Florida corner Joe Haden has had some top-10 visits, but I keep hearing he’s not a top-10 pick. Hard to pick a speed-deficit corner in the top 10 and pay all that money. Remember, the rookie pay scale overpays the players from the first to the 12th pick in the first round; the rest of the salary structure is effective.”

Apparently the talk the Lombardi is hearing doesn’t take into account what Haden did at Florida, where he played well enough to be a starter on a national championship team that played in the toughest conference in the nation.

Or that Haden improved his 40-yard dash time from the 4.6 he ran at the NFL Combine to the high 4.3 to low 4.4 range he ran at his Pro Day at Florida.

We don’t know, Haden looks like he knows what he’s doing here.

None of that matters because media personality* Mike Lombardi is hearing things. Very bad things.

This is where he loses us. As a media personality, rather than a reporter, Lombardi is in the business of stating his opinion, which is fine. We all watch these guys play football in college and think that this player or that player would be a good fit for a particular team.

If he thinks Kyle Wilson is/will be a better player than Haden, that’s OK. But once the pick is made, why do you have to continually try to discredit someone just for the glorification of your own ego? Why not just say, “if I had been making the pick, I would have picked this player and here’s why”?

But to continually manufacture items with no sourcing to stand behind it, that just comes off as childish.

For all his faults, we think Eric Mangini knows something about defense. We’re sure Rob Ryan knows defense. And Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert know the type of players a team needs to succeed in the NFL.

If they say Haden’s the man, that’s good enough for us.

*We refuse to refer to Lombardi and his ilk as journalists. As someone with a journalism degree who worked in the newspaper business for more than a decade, we still believe in proper sourcing, having people go on the record and standing behind their comments. WI don’t put much faith in stories that are attributed to “league officials,” “people close to the situation” or any of that nonsense. That’s not reporting, it’s just throwing crap against the wall and hoping something sticks.

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