The Media & The Browns’ QB

It is fun to observe the media, both print and broadcast, cover the Cleveland Browns.  After every game, a segment of them, usually the same guys, seem outraged by the loss that occurred.

We don’t know what they were expecting.  Most people figured a two or three win season at best for the brown and orange, so losses shouldn’t be a surprise.

It is particularly funny to watch how the people who cover and comment on the Browns treat the quarterback situation, particularly this season.

Throughout training camp, it was clear that Hue Jackson was going to start Robert Griffin III unless he was awful.  He wasn’t, although he didn’t play too much in the pre-season, so we got the nod in the opener against the Eagles.

Griffin went 12 of 26 for 190 yards and an interception in a game the Browns trailed 13-10 in the third quarter before a bad snap which turned into a safety changed the momentum.

The former Heisman Trophy winner suffered a broken shoulder late in the 4th quarter, and based on that the media turned on him, saying it is clear that he shouldn’t be the starter and it was tough to find a scenario where RGIII would be back on the Browns’ roster in 2017.

Next came many in the media’s choice, good guy, good teammate Josh McCown, who started in week two vs. the Ravens.

The Browns had a 20-0 first quarter lead, but scored no more points after and McCown threw a late interception (after a terrible unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Terrelle Pryor).

And he broke his collarbone in the game.  In a nutshell, he was what we’ve come to expect about Josh McCown.

But he was now out and rookie Cody Kessler took the helm.  The people covering the team were sounding a death knell on the fate of the Browns.

Their fears were unwarranted. After a shaky first series, Kessler played well (21 of 33 for 244 yards) and the Browns had a chance to win in regulation, but new kicker Cody Parkey missed a field goal.

Kessler was good again the following week (28 of 40, 223 yards, a TD and a pick) and Cleveland was in the game until some 4th quarter turnovers caused a 31-20 defeat.

Now, everyone wanted to see Kessler the rest of the season.  Since the team was 0-4, he was the future.  Why not put him out there?

Except he got hurt against the Patriots after leading the Browns to a touchdown.

He returned to start the following week vs. Tennessee throwing for over 300 yards and two touchdowns, and was 9 of 11 against Cincinnati before suffering a concussion.

However, Kessler was reluctant to throw deep and his lack of arm strength had the scribes starting to turn against him.

When Hue Jackson benched him in the second half of the Thursday night game vs. Baltimore, many in the media started to sour on Kessler.

Unfortunately, McCown was dreadful in that game, and Kessler got another concussion in the next game against the Steelers.

That left McCown to play last Sunday and the media started thinking the best thing for the Browns might be to trot out Robert Griffin III for the rest of the year since he’s now recovered from his injury.

Their thinking is why not find out what you have in the former Redskin QB, who by the way, took his team to the playoffs as a rookie.

That’s what they should’ve been thinking from day one.  Griffin is still just 26 years old, so why not let him show if he can still play in the NFL, and can he make plays.

It shouldn’t have any effect on whether or not Cleveland should draft a quarterback next spring.

The point is maybe we shouldn’t pay any attention to what the people who follow the Browns think about the QB position.  They don’t seem to know anymore than anyone else about the position.

JD

 

 

Cavs Allow Fans Some Relaxation

Usually for a Cleveland sports fan, there is worry, concern, and angst in following your team.

Maybe the lack of that worries you, because you are a product of following sports in northeast Ohio, but this NBA basketball has an odd sense of calm to it.

Right now, the Cavaliers are off to a great start, winning 13 of their first 15 games, and already are four games ahead in the loss column in the NBA Eastern Conference standing.

Barring any sort of health related problems, probably the next time any basketball fan will have any concern is when the playoffs get underway, and even then, perhaps not until the Eastern Conference finals.

That’s how good this Cavs team is, and winning that title last spring and experiencing that run together has freed them up to play seemingly even better to this point in the season.

A full training camp with Tyronn Lue has the wine and gold ticking like a Swiss watch.  Kevin Love, the reigning Eastern Conference player of the week, is playing like he did with the Timberwolves, averaging more than 20 points per night and grabbing more than 10 rebounds.

The other thing that has to strike fans is the closeness of this group and the fun they seem to have together.

They attended the Indians’ post-season games together, they have an annual Halloween party, they stopped off to watch the Ohio State-Michigan game a few days ago.

Maybe all of that is done because LeBron James says it needs to happen, but the rest of the squad is following their leader, and that has to help when it comes down to crunch time in games.  They trust each other and they trust their coach.

Yes, LeBron is playing more minutes than we all expected, but Lue has told us the plan is to give James more rest when the schedule gets heavy in January and February.  His minutes will go down then, and there will probably be some days off as well.

There is no doubt or handwringing from the fans and sports talk hosts around town.  The Cavs won, so we believe in what they tell us.

Outside of the game they lost in Indiana when James sat out, this team rolls on even if they are missing some of it’s cogs.

Channing Frye has tragically missed time due to deaths in his family.  JR Smith missed some games with a sprained ankle.  Last Sunday, both Frye and Iman Shumpert were out, the Cavs still won on the road.

Lue has also made everyone a part of the early success.  Rookie Kay Felder has contributed.  Jordan McRae has seen more time lately and played the entire fourth quarter of a game against Washington that was still in doubt.

Sunday, without Frye and Smith in a slump, Lue turned to veteran James Jones, who came in and knocked down two three pointers.

It is true that the Cavs have been home a lot thus far (10 of their 15 games have been at Quicken Loans Arena), so the schedule will get a little tougher coming up.  However, that still doesn’t provide great concern.

And by the way, let the media keep chasing Golden State and the continuously preening Warriors.  The Cavaliers will keep quietly going about their business, which is winning.

While their fans just sit back and enjoy the ride.

JK

 

 

 

Browns Gave Giants A Tussle, But Drop to 0-12.

The New York Giants came into today’s game with the Cleveland Browns with a 7-3 record, and a very good chance to make the playoffs.

They left with a win, and the Browns are now 0-12 on the season, but the home town brown and orange gave the G-Men a pretty good struggle.

However, it seemed whenever the Browns got close, or threatened the New York lead, the Giants had an extra gear and widened the lead once again.  That’s what happens when you have great players like Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr.

The Browns trailed just 7-3 with 3:51 left in the first half.  Less than a minute later, Manning hit Beckham for 32 yards and it was 14-3.

In the fourth quarter, Cleveland got within one score at 20-13 after a 21 yard touchdown pass from Josh McCown to rookie Corey Coleman.

It took just three minutes for Manning to move the Giants 73 yards in six plays, finding Beckham Jr. again to provide the final margin at 27-13.

McCown had a critical turnover, but it is difficult to blame him for it.  With the score 14-6, Johnathan Hankins bull rushed G Alvin Bailey, in because John Greco was hurt, hit McCown and the ball popped into the hands of Jason Pierre-Paul, who ran 43 yards with the fumble and a touchdown.

For the Browns to get their elusive first win, it would seem they need to run the ball and win the turnover battle.  They did neither today, as they were outgained on the ground, 104 to 58, and fumbled three times compared to just one for New York.

McCown wound up with 322 yards passing, but many of them came with Cleveland down by 14, and the Giants playing back and allowing underneath completions.

To be fair, he did hit a beautiful strike to Terrelle Pryor for 54 yards.  Coach Hue Jackson seemed to hear our plea to get Pryor and Duke Johnson more involved, as the former Ohio State QB caught six passes for 131 yards, and Johnson had five carries and three receptions.

We would still like to see Johnson more involved though.

Other bright spots offensively would include Coleman, who had three catches for 38 yards and a TD, and rookie TE Seth DeValve, who added three grabs for 39 yards.

Hopefully, with the bye week coming up next, this will be the last we see of McCown, who had respectable numbers (25 of 43, 322 yards), but threw several balls behind receivers and had an interception nullified because the defender was out of bounds.

That might seem harmless, but the defender was right in front of the receiver.  What McCown saw, we don’t know.

Robert Griffin III should be ready to start against Cincinnati, and we would rather see if he can play, rather than see McCown.

Defensively, the Browns held Manning to just 194 yards passing, and had a couple of chance to turn him over, but failed. The Giants’ QB threw a short pass that hit Emmanuel Ogbah in the chest, but he could corral it.

Jamie Collins had 8 tackles and Christian Kirksey had 10 to lead Cleveland, and Corey Lemonier did record a sack.

But the defense had no answer for Beckham’s speed on crossing routes, the secondary continues to be a problem.

So finally, the Browns get a week off.  Many members of the media and fans might need the time off as well as the players.

Hopefully, the rest rejuvenates the coaching staff and the players for the last four games of the year.

JD

Understand Browns Process, But Still Have Questions

With the Cleveland Browns, you either trust the process or you are bitter about a 0-11 season.

There doesn’t seem to be any in between.

For us, it is more the former than the latter.  Nothing else has worked for this franchise since they returned to the NFL in 1999.

They’ve tried signing free agents, they’ve tried trading down in the draft to accumulate more picks, they’ve drafted quarterbacks on the first round, they’ve tried signing experienced veteran passers.

Mostly, they’ve tried to be competitive every year.  That may sound like a good thing, trying to win as many games as you can each season, but it doesn’t allow the organization to build a foundation of talent.

So, Sashi Brown and Paul DePodesta decided to basically build from scratch, like an expansion team.  Get rid of the older, declining veteran players, and replace them with young guys with a future and draft picks.

It seems logical, but it doesn’t make losing every week less painful.  And although we get what the Browns are trying to accomplish, it doesn’t mean we don’t understand why fans of this team, with over 20 years of pretty much horrible football, are frustrated.

And even though we get and support what the front office is doing (why not try something new?), there are things that drive us crazy and make us shake our head.

The first is the offensive line.  Clearly, the combination the Browns are using isn’t working.  The running game isn’t working anymore, and our quarterbacks are resembling Evel Knievel.

Cleveland used a third round pick on Shon Coleman, an offensive tackle.  Why not put him out there?  Several football people have told us the line may improve by moving Austin Pasztor to guard, next to Joe Thomas, and put Coleman at right tackle.

Perhaps they would be able to run better behind Thomas and Pasztor and relieve some of the pressure off the passer.

And no, maybe we are crazy, but we aren’t ready to move on from Cam Erving just yet.  Perhaps putting him between two veterans (Pasztor and John Greco) will help him.

The offense is sputtering, scoring no more than 10 points in any of the last three games.  So, why not get the ball into the hands of the Browns’ best playmakers, Terrelle Pryor and Duke Johnson, more often.

We just witnessed the Steelers getting the ball to Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown as much as possible.  Why not copy them.

We’d have Pryor getting hitch passes, slants, deep throws, and even running on end arounds or jet sweeps.  Johnson has the ability to take a short throw and make something out of it.

Right now, they are under utilized.

We understand part of the problem may very well be the revolving door Hue Jackson has at quarterback.  The team hasn’t been able to start the same guy more than three weeks in a row.

This week, it’s more of Josh McCown, who no doubt will make a critical error at some point in the game.

It is frustrating to watch the Browns week after week, and not get the payoff of seeing a victory.  The front office wants and needs high draft picks.

Hopefully, Brown’s plan pays off and the rebuilding process has been accelerated.  If not, we don’t know what the team can try next.

JD

 

 

 

Browns’ “Groundhog Day” Continues

For awhile, we thought today’s Browns-Steelers game might have been the most lopsided 17-3 game in the history of the National Football League.

The Steelers had the ball for pretty much the entire game, and yet managed only a touchdown and three field goals, and the TD was the result of an untimed down prior to halftime.

Cleveland even crept to within eight points after a Josh McCown to Gary Barnidge touchdown throw early in the fourth quarter, but as Browns will be Browns, Cody Parkey missed the extra point, so it remained 17-9.

The defense forced a punt on Pittsburgh’s next possession, and after a special teams penalty (which is a weekly occurrence), McCown took a strip sack and the Steelers recovered in the end zone to put the game away.

Now, the final score showed the dominance the visitors showed virtually the entire contest.

Early in the season, someone said the NFL has become a 3rd and 2 league, and if you can convert on offense, you will win, and if you can stop your opponent, you will be successful.

Pittsburgh was 6 for 13 on third and fourth downs today, while the Browns were 4 of 15 on third down.  And that might just describe the game, and actually most Cleveland games this season.

Positives.  The defense held Ben Roethlisberger to just one touchdown on the day, despite the black and gold having the ball virtually all of the first three quarters of the game.

Terrelle Pryor once again was a force, catching five passes for 97 yards and returned to the game after a brutal shot to the ribs trying to catch a high throw from McCown.

Christian Kirksey had nine more tackles, and safety Ed Reynolds had the best hit of the day, driving Le’Veon Bell out of bounds after a short pass play.

That’s about it.

Negatives.  Hue Jackson wanted to see Cody Kessler throw downfield more often, and the result may have been the rookie QB holding on to the ball forever.

Pittsburgh had eight sacks, many of those because Cleveland quarterbacks held on to the ball way too long.

It doesn’t help that the Browns refuse to make any changes on their offensive line, despite not being able to run the ball or protect the passer.

The Browns had just 33 yards on the ground, averaging just 2.5 per carry.  Their leading rusher was McCown with 11 yards.

This brings up the old lament.  Cleveland can’t win until they can run the ball, and can stop the run.

Watching the Steelers get the ball to Bell and Antonio Brown (44 combined plays), you wonder why Jackson doesn’t use Pryor more often.  Get him the ball on bubble screen, slants, end arounds, etc.

He’s the team’s best offensive player.  He should get the ball as much as possible.  We understand teams are trying to take Pryor away, but that’s Jackson’s field of expertise.

We also get that Kessler isn’t a starting QB in the NFL for a good team, but we will again say there is no reason for McCown to get more time.  Hopefully, Robert Griffin III can play next week, because frankly, we’d rather see him.

McCown got the Browns in the end zone, but he also made the key mistake, fumbling in the end zone, and had several other throws which either got a receiver drilled, or hit a defender that couldn’t hold on.

So, now it’s 0-11 and 14 straight defeats.

And although we understand the plan, it’s getting tougher and tougher to find something to pin hopes on for the future.

JD

Tribe Trade Miller? We Say No Way

Since the World Series ended, there have been several national baseball writers who have speculated that the Indians might try to move their post-season star, Andrew Miller, during the off-season.

We feel this should be filed under the same grouping as writers saying the Cavaliers are going to move Kevin Love, and the Browns will fire all of their coaches again this winter.  Meaning, it’s a reflex move for writers, low hanging fruit, if you will.

Look, anyone can be traded.  We love when Tribe fans will say to us things like the team will never trade Jason Kipnis or Jose Ramirez.  Our response is always, if the Angels called and offered Mike Trout, a deal would be reached pretty quickly.

When Chris Antonetti and GM Mike Chernoff acquired Miller from the Yankees at the trading deadline last July, one of the reasons he was so appealing, besides that he may very well be the best reliever in the game, was he was under contract for two more years.

That’s the biggest reason the Indians were willing to move two of their top ten prospects.

The national media speculates in this way because they can’t believe the Tribe would be willing to pay $9 million for the next two seasons on a relief pitcher, and combine with a likely $6-7 million payday for Cody Allen, there is certainly no way Cleveland, little small market Cleveland, would spend close to $20 million on their bullpen.

They forget that the Indians are in a win now mode.  Most of their key players are in their prime, and they have a very good starting rotation that is paid well below market value compared to their ability.

And yes, we have been critical of the franchise’s spending habits over the years, but with post-season ticket revenue and an expanded season ticket base, we think the front office won’t be as frugal this winter.

When you get to the seventh game of the World Series, your organization has to think they can win the world championship the next season.

Also, the Indians’ farm system is in pretty good shape right now.

When they made the deal with the Yankees, they had two top outfield prospects in Bradley Zimmer and Clint Frazier.  They still have Zimmer poised to be in Cleveland by the end of the 2017 season, and Greg Allen keeps getting better and better too.

They also moved Justus Sheffield, a top starting pitching prospect.  Mike Clevinger is the next man up if an injury occurs next season, and the organization has Ryan Merritt and Adam Plutko in the upper levels of the system, and Triston McKenzie, Juan Hillman and others in the lower levels.

So, Miller will be an Indian on Opening Day, 2017 in Texas unless the front office is absolutely blown away by a trade offer, which we doubt will happen.

The Indians intend to get back to the post-season next fall, and if they do, what better weapon to have than the guy who was this fall’s ultimate weapon…Andrew Miller.

On the other hand, if something happens and the season goes south, Miller could be on the move in July, and then, and only then, will Antonetti and Chernoff consider making a deal and will command the same kind of haul Cleveland gave to New York.

That’s the only scenario where Miller gets moved.

MW

 

Browns’ Tumult? Should Be A Little…They Are 0-10.

If Cleveland Browns’ owner Jimmy Haslam and his wife decide to blow up the current front office and coaching staff after this season, then Browns’ fans have no hope whatsoever.

We would say if that happens, the only way this team would ever have success is by pure luck, everything falling into place for one season.

So, is there tension within the walls in the offices in Berea?  There should be at least a little.  The Browns are 0-10.  They shouldn’t be throwing daily parties.

The front office and coaching staff should be self-auditing every day to see what they can be doing better.  However, that doesn’t mean a bunch of people will be losing their jobs when the season ends.

This football team isn’t making the playoffs, and that’s why the organization should be even more committed to finding out who can play and who can’t for the final six games of the season.

Many people talk about the process in Dallas when Tom Landry was fired, and Jerry Jones bought the team and brought in Jimmy Johnson as head coach.

The Cowboys went 1-15 that year, losing games by the following scores:  28-0, 30-7, 30-13, 31-13, 31-14, 27-0, 15-0.  That’s seven losses by 15 points or more.

To date, the Browns have lost four games by that margin, although the way the team has played as of late, it wouldn’t be surprising if they weren’t more big losses in Cleveland’s future.

This isn’t to suggest that Hue Jackson is Johnson, and the Browns are on their way to three Super Bowl wins in four years soon, but it does give perspective that starting from kind of ground zero does mean fans are in for a long season.

It also does provide a glimmer of hope.

We understand that Jackson, his coaching staff, and even the players are feeling the pressure to win at least one game this season.  No one wants the specter of going 0-16.  But they can’t give in to that.  They have to do what is best for the future of the Cleveland Browns.

And this may not be a popular opinion, but it means they should take another look at Robert Griffin III.  He only played one game this season, and although the Browns lost that game 29-10, it wasn’t as though Griffin was horrific.

The former Heisman Trophy winner is still only 26 years old, so why not take a look at him before the season ends?

Rookie Cody Kessler has done a solid job.  He’s protected the football and been accurate.  Could he be the starter at the beginning of next season?  Why not.  But we doubt he’s going to turn into a gunslinger.

So, why not see what Griffin has left, if anything?  It’s certainly a better alternative to seeing mediocre Josh McCown take another snap.

It also means looking at more young players.  We’d cut back on Andrew Hawkins playing time.  No more Alvin Bailey.  Instead, let’s look at the rookie wide outs and third round pick Shon Coleman.

We understand there is nothing in the Browns’ past that would make anyone confident that Haslam will not fire everybody this off-season.  And as we said before, if he does, there truly is no hope.

When the Browns changed their approach at the beginning of the year, we believe they realized you have to stay the course for a few years.

However, that doesn’t mean they should be satisfied with how the season has progressed to this point.

JD

 

Cavs Soaring Quietly To Start Season

Amazingly enough, the defending World Champion Cleveland Cavaliers seem to be flying under the radar just a bit.

Yes, the banner raising and ring ceremony, which basically put a cap on the 2015-16 season received a lot of attention and emotion from the northeast Ohio faithful, but as for the games, it doesn’t seem like the wine and gold are under a lot of scrutiny.

That’s probably due to the faith that winning a title gives the fans.  Our bet is if there is anything troubling basketball fans here, they are very confident that GM David Griffin, coach Tyronn Lue, and resident best player in the sport LeBron James will get it fixed.

To date, it appears the 2016-17 version of the Cavs is resembling what basketball fans thought they would be when James returned to the franchise and the wine and gold traded for Kevin Love to go with Kyrie Irving.

The North Coast edition of the “Big Three” is currently all averaging over 20.0 point per game:  Irving at 24.5, James at 23.4, and Love at 21.0.

The Cavaliers are also showing everyone the benefit of having Lue in charge during training camp too.  Lue talked about playing at a faster tempo when he took over in mid-season last year, and this year, he is putting that in place from day one.

Cleveland is the second highest scoring team in the NBA right now, and despite playing faster, they still rank right in the middle of the league in terms of allowing the opponents to score.

The wine and gold also continue to shoot a lot of three point shots (second in the league to Houston) and have the 5th best shooting percentage from distance.

This of course is due to the ability of both James and Irving being able to get to the hoop at will, which creates wide open opportunities for the like of JR Smith, Love, Channing Frye, and Mike Dunleavy, who to date has not converted as many as most have thought.

And Lue’s squad has defended the three point ball well this year, ranking 11th in defensive field goal percentage, despite opponents taking the third most shots.

Dunleavy has been one of the few disappointments to date, which there shouldn’t be many on a team that has started out the year 7-1.  He’s making just slightly over 30% of his long range shots, down from his career mark of 38%.

It may be a slump, it may be his teammates getting used to where he wants the ball, but when a player is 36 years old, and something in his game has declined, you have to wonder.  However, any decision shouldn’t be made after eight games.

Tristan Thompson isn’t on the floor for his offensive ability, but he is down to 5.1 points per game, his career average is 9.6.

You have to wonder if the lob pass he received regularly from Matthew Dellavedova is missed in his offensive arsenal.

The Cavs have had an easy schedule early on, with a lot of days off in between games.  This has allowed James to play 36.6 minutes per night without stress. That average will drop as the season goes, so the bench will have to give Lue more production.

This means quality minutes from rookie Kay Felder and perhaps Jordan McRae, who we thought might be in the rotation after Dellavedova’s departure.

Both players will have to provide defense if they want to get on the floor.

The Indians’ march to the World Series and the Browns’ march to perhaps an 0-16 campaign have put the wine and gold a bit on the back burner.  That’s probably the biggest result of winning the NBA title.

No one is worried if the Cavs can do it.  We know they can.

JK

The Curious Decision Of Hue Jackson.

The Cleveland Browns can do one thing…they can make you scratch your head because they will consistently do something that makes absolutely no sense.

For example, they drafted a ton of wide receivers last April, yet continue to keep veteran Andrew Hawkins on the roster and play him more than the rookies.

However, tonight might just be the ultimate.

Cleveland was actually leading at halftime tonight, 7-6.  They scored on a 25-yard pass from Cody Kessler to another rookie, TE Seth DeValve.

Kessler was dinking and dunking, as he normally does, but was efficient, hitting 11 of 18 passes for 91 yards, a passer rating of 92, and did not turn the ball over.

After the Browns got the second half kickoff and went three and out, and the Ravens scored a touchdown to take a 13-7 lead, Hue Jackson made perhaps the most puzzling decision of the year, replacing Kessler with mediocre veteran Josh McCown.

The choice of some fans and many in the media, because he’s a hard worker and good guy (read:  good interview), McCown may have played the most dreadful half of football by any Browns’ quarterback in recent memory.

That’s saying a lot.

McCown’s first four series went interception, fumble (he recovered) and punt, interception, and a lost fumble.

He went 6 for 13 for 59 yards and the two picks.

Quite frankly, he should be released after the performance, because there is absolutely no need for him to take another snap for the Cleveland Browns.

The decision is more puzzling because Kessler was Jackson’s pick.  Remember, “trust me on this one”.

We have said this before, but we don’t know if Kessler will ever lead this team or any team to the playoffs, and he probably will never be considered one of the better passers in the NFL.

So, we are certainly not one of those who think Kessler is some sort of franchise savior for the Cleveland Browns.

But it makes no sense at all, period, to play a 38 year old mediocre, mistake prone quarterback on a football team that is now 0-10 for the season.

As for the final score, yes, the defense gave up over 25 points again, for the tenth straight game.  They got gassed after being on the field again for almost 40 minutes, particularly in the second half, when McCown produced more turnovers than any pastry chef you can name.

Watching the game, it appeared all of the life was sucked out of the Browns after McCown’s first interception.

And while Jackson yearns for his passer to throw deep, the veteran’s first deep throw was also picked off.

Kessler has turned the ball over once this season.  McCown turned it over four times in a half.

Defensively, Jamie Collins was all over the field in the first half, with nine tackles and a sack.  Demario Davis also had a sack.

Christian Kirksey played another strong game with 13 tackles, and Joe Haden and Breian Boddy-Calhoun both recorded interceptions.

The defense also held the Ravens to under four yards per carry (3.5).

However, the talk tomorrow will be about the curious quarterback decision.  What does Jackson do going forward?  Logic and the squad’s record say it should be Kessler, because he is a rookie.

On the other hand, Robert Griffin III was warming up on the field prior to the game.  Does Jackson go back to him?  Quite frankly, we wouldn’t mind that.  Why not see if Griffin can play?

After all, he only had one game to show what he can do.

No matter what explanation Jackson makes, he cannot convince us that putting McCown in the game improved the Browns chances of winning.

We aren’t saying we’ve soured on the head coach, but it does make us wonder what the ultimate goal is.  It should be developing the young players.  Tonight, it wasn’t.

JD

Looking Ahead To Tribe Off-Season

It still stings.

Losing in extra innings in the seventh game of the World Series for the second time in the last 20 years will do that to hardcore fans.

Despite some people in the media telling fans they should feel good about losing to the Cubs in the Fall Classic, we still think about what might have been.

The Indians were this close to a World Championship, and fell just a bit short.

So, the best thing to do is to look forward.  What can and will the Indians do this winter to prepare themselves to defend the American League Central Division and the American League championship?

Despite the injuries late in the season that curtailed the Tribe’s rotation, there is no doubt the strength of the Indians is the starting rotation, and the back end of the bullpen.

Remember, Cleveland finished second in the American League in ERA in 2016.

Led by staff ace Corey Kluber, the rotation which also consists of Carlos Carrasco, Danny Salazar, Trevor Bauer, and Josh Tomlin, and the tandem of Andrew Miller and Cody Allen at the back of the bullpen is the backbone of the team.

And don’t forget Mike Clevinger and post-season hero Ryan Merritt to provide depth as well.

As we all saw, pitching rules the day in October, and the Cleveland pitching staff was outstanding in the playoffs.

But the odd thing about baseball is you have to score runs in the regular season to get into the post-season, and quite frankly a lot went right for the Tribe to rank second in the AL in runs scored this past season.

Mike Napoli and Carlos Santana has career years in terms of power, and one of that duo may not be with the team when Opening Day 2017 comes around.

Many will peg Jose Ramirez for regression next season, but we are not one of those people.  Ramirez’ minor league numbers suggest he is a good hitter and at age 24, should still be getting better.

The same can be said for SS Francisco Lindor who will play ’17 at age 23.  Lindor should only get better, and should provide a little more power, which could put him with around 20 home runs next season.

Jason Kipnis should be fine, and of course, the team is hopeful of getting its best hitter coming into 2016, Michael Brantley back and provide the professional at bats he is well known for.

What the front office does to make up for the loss or possible lost production from Napoli and perhaps Santana will go a long way toward making the post-season a year from now.

The outfield is still a huge question mark.  Rajai Davis is also a free agent and will be 36 years old.  Tyler Naquin slumped badly in the second half and has no track record.  Lonnie Chisenhall and Brandon Guyer are solid players, but aren’t cornerstones.  Don’t forget about Abraham Almonte too.

And will Brantley be healthy enough to contribute.  Hopefully, rookie Yandy Diaz figures in somewhere too.

The front office can’t and shouldn’t go into the winter thinking older players like Napoli and Davis will repeat the numbers they put up in 2016.  It’s just not logical.

So, president Chris Antonetti and GM Mike Chernoff have to be creative in what they do in the hot stove league.

One thing is for sure.  The Tribe should not stand pat.  They need to continue to improve the roster even though they got to the seventh game of the World Series.

You can’t assume everything will be the same as this year.

KM