Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

Archive for the category “Landon Donovan”

Wait, so Tony Pashos is actually … good?

Watching the Browns each week on offense it seems as if right tackle Tony Pashos is a false start or a holding penalty waiting to happen.

But what if we told you the Browns have two of the five best blocking tackles in the entire National Football League?

Turns out that, when it comes to pass blocking, Pashos is pretty good, at least according to Pro Football Focus, which looked at how many times a lineman set up in pass protection, figured in how many sacks, hits and hurries they’ve allowed, and came up with a Pass Blocking Efficiency Rating that puts Browns left tackle Joe Thomas at No. 1 in the league (no surprise) and Pashos at No. 4 (huge surprise).

According to the site’s rankings:

When a team picks a tackle in the first round they’re thinking that guy is going to keep his quarterback clean. We’ve mentioned countless times the impact pressure can have on a passer, so just imagine how much worse Colt McCoy could be if he didn’t have the most efficient tackle in the league blocking for him. I am, of course, referring to Joe Thomas, who in allowing just three sacks, a hit and 15 hurries on 527 pass blocking snaps, is flying high with a 97.2 PBE rating. He narrowly beats out Andrew Whitworth of the Bengals and David Stewart of the Titans (97.1 ratings), though it should be noted he has given up eight penalties.

Interestingly, Thomas isn’t the only Brown to do well in the tackle rankings. Tony Pashos has struggled to impose himself in the run game, but with just 17 total pressures given up on 398 pass blocking snaps, he ranks fourth out of all right tackles. With the rest of the Top 10, you kind of understand them being there, and it’s only really Pashos whose name sticks out. He finds him behind the aforementioned Stewart, Tyson Clabo and rookie sensation, Tyron Smith.

Looks like general manager Tom Heckert knows what he’s doing after all.

***

Uni Watch had a couple of Cleveland-related items today.

First, the Lake Erie Monsters will wear Cleveland Crusader jerseys for their game Friday night.

We actually remember going to a couple of Crusader games at the Coliseum when we were young, and always liked those uniforms.

Then there’s the story of how one of Jim Brown’s practice helmets ended up in the hands of an 11-year-old on his birthday in 1971.

***

Finally, Landon Donovan is returning to England to get some much-needed playing time against the top competition in the Premier League.

Donovan will return to Everton for eight weeks, most likely making his debut on Jan. 4 against Bolton and ending with the Merseyside derby with Liverpool in late February.

“The opportunity to return to Everton and play for such a well-respected club and a manager that I hold in such high regard was something that was simply too good to pass up,” Donovan said on the club’s website.

(Photo by Getty Images)

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They’re not the world champs for nothing

“He doesn’t know it’s a damn show! He thinks it’s a damn fight!”

Apparently someone forgot to tell Spain this was supposed to be an exhibition.

The reigning World Cup champions dismantled the U.S. on Saturday, 4-0.

The friendly, before more than 64,000 at Gillette Stadium, was the first time the two teams have played since the U.S. shocked Spain in the 2009 Confederations Cup.

Spain clearly did not forget.

Santi Cazorla scored twice, and Alvaro Negredo and Fernando Torres also scored for Spain.

As for the U.S., Landon Donovan (illness) and Carlos Bocanegra (coaches decision) did not play, while Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley and Steve Cherundolo only saw action as second-half substitutes.

The U.S. was clearly holding players back in advance of Tuesday’s Gold Cup opener against Canada.

While winning a tournament is more important than winning a friendly, we have to wonder what the thinking was in scheduling Spain just a few days before the Gold Cup.

The only way the U.S. team is going to get better is by taking on teams like Spain, but if the top players don’t see the field, where is the value? Presumably the experience was still there for the second-level players on the team who saw game action, so that’s a positive.

And it’s not like Donvan, Dempsey, Bradley, etc., are lacking in big-game experience.

We still would have liked the U.S. team to enter the Gold Cup on a bit more of a positive note, as this loss puts more pressure on the team to put on a good showing.

Because if they don’t at least make the finals of the Gold Cup, today’s loss against Spain could have a lasting impact that the team was not expecting.

The World Fights Back

Well, that was disappointing.

The U.S. fell to Ghana in extra time and their World Cup has come to a close.

It’s hard to believe it’s over; after two weeks of exciting play, bad calls, comebacks and last-minute goals, it all ended today.

The U.S. fell back into their bad habit of conceding early goals, as Ghana got on the scoreboard less than 5 minutes into the game. Not only was it the first goal Tim Howard conceded in more than 135 minutes, it was the first goal Ghana scored in free play during the entire tournament.

Of course it was; the team just can’t lose, it has to lose in surprising, painful ways. As a Cleveland fan I should be used to it but it never gets easier. Maybe that’s why this team was so much fun to watch. Cleveland sports fans are used to rooting for underdogs and understand the sun doesn’t shine on the same dog’s rear every day – or any day in the case of Cleveland.

Maybe all the comebacks, the roller-coaster ride, the fighting against refs and a governing body that didn’t want them to advance finally became too much for the Americans to overcome. Maybe they finally ran into a team – Ghana did win the African Cup of Nations this year – that was their equal. Going four games without your forwards scoring a goal certainly didn’t help. Whatever the case, it’s over now.

“The finality of it is brutal,” Landon Donovan said in published reports. “When you realize how much you put into it, not only for the last four years but for your whole life. There’s no guarantee there’s another opportunity. It’s disappointing.”

And the US team is left to wonder what could have been, as the path to the semifinals may never be this easy again.

Hopefully the team can take both the good and the bad from this tournament and build on it. Hopefully this year’s performance was not an aberration, but the beginning of the norm. The faces will certainly change, as you have to wonder how much longer players such as Donovan, Tim Howard, Clint Dempsey and Carlos Bocanegra can continue in international duty.

We’ll find out in 2014 in Brazil.

I can’t wait.

Taking on the World

“People should know when they are conquered.”

“Would you Quintas? Would I?”

As the US waits for its Round of 16 game vs. Ghana on Saturday, the Americans face a favorable draw and a real chance to advance, not just past Ghana but into the final four.

“The USA never gives up,” Spain’s Cesc Fabregas said in published reports. “That’s why I believe they can go much further because they fight to the end and work so hard. So, I can see them reaching the semifinals, and then who knows what happens?”

The team’s last-minute win against Algeria revealed the squad’s true heart. The Americans had every opportunity to give up – they had never won the third game in group play (0-6-0 all-time), yet another bad call from the ref denied them a rightful goal, their shots kept finding the cross bar or the post, rather than the back of the net, and they were moments away from being eliminated in the group stage for the second World Cup in a row.

But they wouldn’t accept being conquered. That’s not the American way.

While Landon Donovan received much of the attention for scoring the game winning goal, the win vs. Algeria was truly a team effort. Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley, among others, continued to pepper the goal with shots, while Tim Howard was a rock in goal for the Americans.

The World Cup’s motto is One Game Changes Everything, at that was certainly true for the US, as ESPN’s Chris Jones points out:

In those 12 seconds between Tim Howard’s throw and Landon Donovan’s finish, in those 12 seconds when the U.S. team managed to go from elimination to winning its group, a massive psychological shift occurred. That goal against Algeria changed everything. The Americans went from disappointments to heroes; Bob Bradley went from being the wrong man for the job to a strategic genius; Donovan himself saw stories about his missed potential erased and hastily rewritten, turned into stories that instead celebrated his gifts, his stone-cold ability to finish when his team, his country, needed him most.

Now the world’s biggest fear – the American team advancing through the knockout stages – is right there for the taking. The US has a chance Saturday to avenge the group stage loss to Ghana in 2006 that knocked them out of the tournament. Ghana hasn’t played well so far this year, their only goals have come on penalty kicks, they don’t have their best player, Michael Essien, and their keeper is the shaky Richard Kingson.

If the US can get past Ghana, they will most likely face Uruguay, who emerged from a weak group that included South Africa and the French. Not exactly something to keep the team up at night. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

The Americans have to take care of business starting Saturday. If they play with the drive and pace they displayed against Algeria, there’s a very real chance they will advance.

The world is theirs for the taking. Whether the world likes it or not.

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