Browns Need To Address QB…Now!

If you have read this site in the past few months, you know that we are not in the group who believe the Cleveland Browns need to take a quarterback with the first overall pick in this spring’s NFL Draft.

We will stand by our opinion that Texas A & M pass rusher Myles Garrett should be the pick at #1.

However, that doesn’t mean the Browns should not address the quarterback position before the 2017 season starts, either.

We have had the opinion in the past that the Cleveland Browns are like the sign in a bar, “free drinks tomorrow”.  The front office has told you in the past that they will be good next year.

However, he have heard some in the media saying the Browns should go defensive in this draft and put off looking for a passer in the 2018 draft.

No, no, no, no, no, NO!!!!

Sashi Brown and Paul DePodesta will never, repeat never, have more draft capital than they have right now.  They have five choices in the first 65 picks in April.  One of them should be used to draft a QB, or at least used in a trade to get the signal caller this franchise can build around.

Perhaps it would be dealing the first pick in the second round to New England to get Jimmy Garoppolo.  We realize some in the media would give up the first overall pick to get Tom Brady’s back up, but we believe #33 and perhaps a pick in the first three rounds of the ’18 draft would be enough to get the former second round pick.

Or, the Browns could use the #12 overall choice to draft Mitch Trubisky or Deshaun Watson from the college ranks, and start to develop the selection as the guy to build the franchise around.

In that case, you start the regular season with Cody Kessler as the starter and bring along the rookie to be able to hit the field in the second half of the regular season, or perhaps the beginning of the ’18 campaign.

Those would be our preferences.

Why not a guy like Tyrod Taylor or Jay Cutler?  It’s simply a factor of the known vs. the unknown.

Garroppolo, Trubisky, or Watson may turn out to be busts, but they also could wind up being top ten QB’s in the NFL.

The reason people have made for Taylor and/or Cutler is that they are better than the current Browns’ quarterbacks.  That’s not setting the bar very high, and if you have five picks in the top 65 selections in the draft, you have to have the mindset that you are going to find the right guy.

Taylor is 27 years old, and is a great athlete.  But is he a difference maker at QB?

He’s started 28 NFL games and has had one 300 yard passing game.

His average yards per attempt ranked 22nd in the league in 2016, although he was 11th in 2015.  His reputation is that he makes a lot of safe throws and doesn’t turn the ball over.  Thus, the dreaded “game manager” label.

The point on Taylor and/or Cutler is if you ranked all of the NFL quarterbacks, they would probably both rank in the bottom ten in the league.

If you are going to take a shot on getting the QB, you have to aim higher than someone who will be in the bottom third of the NFL.

It may not work out, but you have to take the shot.

And you have to take the chance now.  No more postponing the decision for another year.  It’s time to get the guy who can lead the Cleveland Browns in the future.  They have the picks to get it done now.

JD

Will or Can The Cavs Make A Move?

The crazy season in the NBA is in full force this week as the All-Star Game is over and the trading deadline is the middle of this week.

It will be tough to top the bomb that went off within the Association after the game yesterday, when the Sacramento Kings dealt perhaps the most talented big man in the game in DeMarcus Cousins to the team who has the other player in that category, the New Orleans Pelicans to Tyreke Evans, rookie Buddy Hield and some draft picks.

The team in the Big Easy now has the two best big men in the sport in Anthony Davis and Cousins.

Of course, with the Cleveland Cavaliers trying to defend their NBA title, and one of their best players down with an injury in Kevin Love, the question that concerns local basketball fans is will the wine and gold make a move to bolster the roster prior to the deadline.

Recent history, of course, says yes.

In his first year as GM, David Griffin traded for JR Smith, Iman Shumpert, and Timofey Mosgov, changing the roster dramatically, and putting the franchise into position to win the first championship in franchise history.

As we all know, injuries to Love and later, Kyrie Irving decimated the Cavs’ roster by the time they battled to reach The Finals, and Cleveland came up just short to the Golden State Warriors.

Last year, Griffin traded for another sharp shooter, Channing Frye, who contributed greatly in the playoffs after kind of being an afterthought in Orlando.  Frye showed that sometimes players who aren’t great contributors on bad teams can be very useful on very good teams.

Already this season, Griffin has been very active.

After Smith went down with a thumb injury after the holidays, Griffin traded for another premier three point shooter in Kyle Korver.  The veteran was showing signs of decline in Atlanta, dropping to 44% shooting, with 41% behind the arc, but in Cleveland, he has regained the touch.

In 19 games with the Cavaliers, Korver has hit 51% of his shots, both from behind the three point line as well as overall.  He has picked up the outside shooting lost with Smith’s injury.

Then, Griffin signed veteran Derrick Williams for added depth, and see our comments about Frye in talking about Williams, who was the second pick in the NBA Draft behind Irving in 2011.

Still just 25 years old, Williams has averaged 9.8 points in his four games in Cleveland, and has been very active on both ends of the floor.  He looks very much like he can be a contributor for the wine and gold going forward.

All of this history leads us to believe the Griffin will make some sort of move in the next week or so.  It may not be a trade, he could wait for players who will be released after the deadline, who can help Tyronn Lue’s roster.

One player we would advocate looking at is a player we thought about in the late summer, because he didn’t sign until late in the process, and that is Terrence Jones, who is likely to be moved by New Orleans after last night’s deal.

Jones is young (just 25 years old), and Cleveland could use some youth on its roster, and he is also long, another need for the Cavs.  Jones is listed at 6’9″ and his primary position is power forward, another need for the wine and gold with Love out.

He’s a career 50% shooter from the floor, but isn’t a three point threat.  He’s averaging 11.5 points per night in just 25 minutes per game.  He is also grabbing six caroms a game, and his reputation is that of a little better than average defender.

We are also sure that Griffin will come up with another back up point guard, because resting Irving and LeBron James will be very important in March, so Lue will need someone he can trust.

That may be a guy who comes to Cleveland in a buyout situation, perhaps someone like Dallas’ Deron Williams.

It will be an interesting week surrounding the Cleveland Cavaliers for sure.  We feel very positive that the wine and gold will bolster the roster for post-season push.

To this point, fans need to trust Griffin and his group because they have pushed the right buttons.  It helps him when Lue and James are around to assimilate the new players into what the Cavaliers want to do.

JK

 

 

Why Still No Love For Love?

Until the day that David Blatt was fired a little over a year ago, every time something went wrong with the Cleveland Cavaliers, the blame shifted to the now-deposed head coach, and Kevin Love.

Because Love didn’t put up the 26 points and 12.5 rebounds he put up during his last year with the Minnesota Timberwolves.  This totally forgets that in Minnesota he was the focal point of the offense, and in Cleveland, he was probably option #3.

So, his numbers dropped with the Cavs to around 16 points and 8 boards per night in his first two years here, although this year, he is up to 20 points and 11 rebounds per game.

When it was announced earlier this week that Love had a loose body removed from his knee and would miss about six weeks of action, the critics came out yet again.

Those people once again advocate dealing Love for a variety of different packages, because he’s not reliable, he’s injury prone, and he doesn’t fit in against Golden State, the only team Cavalier fans think about in terms of opponents.

This despite Love being a starter for a team that won the NBA Championship a year ago, and having a very good game seven in the NBA Finals, scoring 9 points and grabbing 14 boards.

He averaged almost 15 points and nine boards per game throughout the playoffs last season.

Really, what does this guy have to do to garner some respect from the basketball fans in northeast Ohio?

There has even been people revisiting the trade which brought Love to Cleveland, giving up former first overall pick Anthony Wiggins to Minnesota.  Those criticisms came of course after Wiggins scored 41 points vs. the wine and gold on Tuesday night.

Not to get all analytical with you, but Love has a VORP (Value Over Replacement Player) of a little over 2.0 in both seasons he has played with the Cavs.

His win shares in both seasons with Cleveland are around 8.5.

As for Wiggins, his VORP has been negative in both of his first two seasons with Minnesota and this year, it’s at the break even point of 0.0.

His win shares for last season was 3.4.

The point is that by the analytics Kevin Love is a way better basketball player than Anthony Wiggins, and it is not even close.

Wiggins can score, there is no question about that.  He’s averaging a career high 23.2 points per game.  Unfortunately, that’s about all he does on the basketball floor, getting just 4.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists per contest.

Do the Cavs really need another high volume scorer?

Heck, Love averages almost two assists per game, and that is hardly his primary function on the Cavaliers.

Wiggins was the first overall pick, but he might be the only the third or fourth best player on his own team.  Certainly, Karl Anthony Towns is better, and so is Zack LaVine.

And while Love is the third best player on the Cavs, Cleveland is a championship team, and they have the best record in the Eastern Conference.

Being the third best player on a title contender is a heck of a lot better than being the third best player on an also ran.

The Cavs will probably overcome Love’s injury and will continue to pile up wins.  However, that doesn’t mean he isn’t a good player, or that he can be replaced.

That speaks more about the leadership provided by LeBron James and Tyronn Lue, and the championship pedigree developed here.

Kevin Love is a big part of this basketball team.  Make no mistake about that.

JK

 

 

Cavs’ Injuries Adding To Difficult March Slate

Since the beginning of the calendar year, the Cleveland Cavaliers seem to have been beset by injuries, which makes people nervous about the prospect to repeating as NBA champions.

It started with JR Smith’s thumb, which has him out until what looks like the middle of March.  The question with this malady is will Smith have enough time to round back into shape, more of that meaning will his outside shooting be up to standard come playoff time in the middle of April.

Smith’s shooting and defense were of tremendous importance in the run to the title a year ago, so the seriousness of this injuries cannot be understated.

Then came the Kevin Love situation.  First it was his back, which caused him to miss a few games, and now comes the revelation that the all-star forward has some knee problems, and it would not be surprising if he needs to miss about 3-4 weeks of action, which would put him out until the middle of March too.

And we haven’t even mentioned Iman Shumpert’s sprained ankle, which has put him out for a week, and at this point, it would be in the Cavs’ best interest to keep the guard out of action until after the All Star break.

With these injuries to key players, it is kind of amazing the wine and gold are still sitting at 37-16 and with the best record in the Eastern Conference by two games over Boston.

While no injuries are timely, these comes at a particularly bad time because the schedule is very heavy with road games in March.

After a road game tonight and a game vs. Indiana at The Q tomorrow, the Cavaliers start the post break slate with three home games.

Then, starting on March 1st, seven of the next eight games are on the road, and included in that span are games against Boston, Atlanta, Houston, and a home/road back to back against Miami.

It doesn’t get any easier after that.  Following two home games against Detroit and Utah, Tyronn Lue’s squad goes back out west for games with the Clippers, Lakers, and Nuggets, then stopping in Charlotte before heading home.

At the very least, that portion of the trip could be concerned with getting Love and Smith back in the groove for the playoffs.

Besides all of the schedule and injury problems, remember that the trading deadline takes place next week, and it wouldn’t be a shock if GM David Griffin makes some sort of a move at the deadline to bolster the Cavs for the stretch run.

That puts Lue squarely in the middle as the guy who has to bring this all together, and he needs to do it while still winning games.

Over the past three years, and we include the year David Blatt was in charge, the Cavs have done a great job integrating new players into their culture, a tribute to both the coaching staff and the team’s leader, LeBron James.

Look at how quickly Derrick Williams has seemed to fit in being here not even a week.

Tristan Thompson summed it up the other night when he said the Cavaliers bring in guys who do one thing really well, and allow them to do what they do best.

The biggest thing is getting everyone in full gear when the playoffs start in the middle of April.

There isn’t any evidence to suggest this organization can’t do just that.

JK

 

Spring Training Is Here!

People who aren’t baseball fans just don’t get it.  We heard a few times on talk radio this week that hosts didn’t understand why baseball people get so excited over camps opening, when the regular season is still six weeks away.

It’s pretty simple.  First of all, baseball is the one sport that occurs pretty much every day.  To be a hard core supporter of the grand ol’ game is to make a daily commitment, 162 games played over 180 days.

Since it is played each day for the most part, it is missed when it isn’t here.  So Tribe fans, still dealing with a heart breaking loss in game 7 of the World Series, haven’t been able to lick their wounds with action on the field since November 2nd.

Second, it’s an early sign of spring, the promise of warmer weather to come, looking forward to warm, summer nights at Progressive Field.

We don’t believe any other sport can offer the regeneration of warm weather to follow.

And Tribe fans are even looking forward more to the beginning of spring training this year because of last year’s success, but also because of the tremendous off-season Chris Antonetti and GM Mike Chernoff had, signing perhaps the most prominent free agent this winter in 1B/DH Edwin Encarnacion.

They also added to an already strong bullpen by inking lefty Boone Logan as a free agent.  They did have to say goodbye to two large contributors to last year’s success in Mike Napoli and Rajai Davis, but overall it appears the Indians are stronger than they were when they ended the season.

Baseball fans will be awaiting the first pictures from Goodyear, Arizona, particularly pics of the newest Indians, seeing Encarnacion in Tribe togs for the first time.

We also want to see how our old favorites look in camp, even through many of them were just in town for Tribe Fest at the end of January.

And we are all very anxious to see reports on those players recovering from injuries, mostly Michael Brantley, who missed virtually the entire regular season with shoulder issues.

Brantley’s recovery would be huge, adding another solid bat to an everyday lineup that finished 2nd in the American League in runs scored in 2016.

We will also be interested in the progress of Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar, two stalwarts of the starting rotation, who missed most of  the post-season fun with injuries.  Neither should be a problem long term, but until they are on the mound in exhibition games getting hitters out, you can’t be sure.

It is also fun to follow the progress of the top prospects in the organization, to get your first look at catcher Francisco Mejia and outfielder Greg Allen, both of whom should get some “A” game at-bats.

And we will get a newer look at OF Bradley Zimmer, who will likely start the season in Columbus, and should be on track to make his big league debut this summer.

Those are just some of the reasons why baseball fans look forward to hearing “Pitchers and catchers report”.  It’s the beginning of eight months of a commitment to the sport.

It’s a sign that winter will soon be over…baseball is back!

MW

 

Baseball Doesn’t Need Major Changes

Baseball is in the news this week, not for stuff pertaining to spring training or possible roster moves, but rather for changes being considered to speed up the game.

Although we agree that there are things that can be done to move along the pace of the game, the idea of starting a runner at second base to start an inning once the game in tied after nine is blatantly stupid.

Ideas like this shows us that Commissioner Rob Manfred is chasing casual fans in favor of the hardcore fans who love the game and everything that surrounds it.

We know the average game takes about three hours to play, and really cutting ten minutes off of that time would be great.  But that can be done in a series of ways.

The first thing would be to eliminate the constant stepping out by hitters between pitches.  Hitters need to stay in the box and umpires should allow pitchers to throw to the plate if they are ready.

Batters have to ask for time out, the umpires don’t have to give it to them.

The second thing is to call a strike a strike.  How many times in the course of a game do you say to yourself, “where was that pitch?”  We understand that there is an art to drawing walks, we have one of the best in the game in doing that in Carlos Santana.

We have no problem watching a game where there is a pitcher’s zone, as long as the umpire is consistent.  The game moves much faster.

In terms of the extra inning rule, which will take effect in the low minors this year, there wasn’t a more riveting game last year for the Tribe than the 19 inning victory over Toronto on July 1st.

Yes, the fact the Indians had a 13 game winning streak helped, without a doubt.  We were at one of the local casinos while the game was going on, and crowds were gathered around the televisions that are at the bars.  They weren’t moving either.

And when Cleveland won, a huge roar went up throughout the building.  No one was bored by the length of the game, except for a few young members of the media here.  Of course, they don’t understand the game.

Why pick on baseball?  The length of an NFL game continues to grow every year because no one runs the ball anymore and every time a pass is not completed the clock stops.  Granted, it has become so easy to complete passes, there aren’t many stoppages of play.

We understand baseball is played everyday, while pro football is just once a week.  But no one is complaining that NFL games that used to fit in a three hour window, now take 3:30 or 3:45 to play.

Remember, it takes that long to play 60 minutes of football.

The NBA games are also lengthening.  Again, no one is complaining.

The people who are complaining about baseball are people who aren’t going to games.  Do you ever hear someone who was at a 9-7 game that took three and a half hours, complain about the game being too long?

Of course not, the complaint usually comes from people who don’t like or understand the game.

MW

 

Slight Change In Browns’ Plan?

Looking at the current roster of the Cleveland Browns, one thing stands out, or should we say, the absence of one thing stands out.

Take a look at the experience column.  Three players have been in the NFL for more than 10 seasons.  TE Gary Barnidge and OL John Greco have been in the league for ten years, while stalwart T Joe Thomas has been in the league for 11 seasons.

This comes after the release of two veterans yesterday, QB Josh McCown and DB Tramon Williams were both given their walking papers, and actually, probably a year too late for both of them in our opinion.

If you look at the ages of the roster, those three, plus DL Desmond Bryant, P Britton Colquitt, and WR Andrew Hawkins represent the only players on the team that have passed the big “3-0”.  Colquitt is probably safe, but it would not be surprising if the other two were let go, before the new league year starts.

The significance of the releases of McCown and Williams is it frees up another $11 million in salary cap space for the Browns.  This is where the slight change in the Browns’ plan comes in.

Our guess is the front office is going to make a splash in free agency, and not like before when they signed guys like Donte Whitner and Karlos Dansby, players well past their prime, but brought in as culture changes.

Our belief is the Browns will go after some players finishing their first pro contract, players just entering the prime of their career to speed up the building process.  With a tremendous amount of money below the salary cap, an estimated $113 million, perhaps Sashi Brown and Hue Jackson can bring in three starters, plus the draft class which will include five picks in the first 65 players taken.

Those are guys you want.  Most of those guys are in the 25-27 years of age range, and signing them to a three or four year deal takes them through at the most age 31.  And that seems right in line with what the Browns plan is.

Get good young players and let them grow together, and hopefully you can win sooner than later.

It is hard to argue with that logic. It may just allow the Browns to fill six or seven spots in the starting lineup, and a few of those will be with players who have a track record in the league.

The point men for this will be Jackson and new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.  They will have to sell these players and their agents, that Cleveland isn’t the vast wasteland of the NFL and they are building something to last.

Of course, they will probably have to overpay to do this, but when you are $113 million under the cap, that’s not a big deal either.

And we believe that number will grow, because it would not be a shock if Bryant and Hawkins are cut soon as well.

It’s a subtle shift, but one that should speed up the process of winning.  And that is something we can all buy into.

JD

 

Super Bowl Sunday? Browns Still Don’t Know

Today is Super Bowl Sunday.

It is also a day that fans of the Cleveland Browns have never been excited about. In the 51 years of the Super Bowl era, the Browns have never taken part in the game, let alone win the Lombardi Trophy.

Cleveland hasn’t been close to getting to the ultimate NFL experience since the 1989 season, 27 long and mostly dreadful years.

However, in the first 24 Super Bowl years, the Browns got to the what would now be the conference title game five times.

We all know about the game’s most famous upset in Super Bowl III, when the Jets, led by Joe Namath, beat the heavily favored Baltimore Colts 16-7.  What is forgotten is the Colts got there by hammering the Browns 30-0 in the NFL title game.

The Colts avenged their lone regular season defeat that day.

Coach Blanton Collier’s crew got to the brink of the Super Bowl the very next year, losing to the Minnesota Vikings, who then lost to the Kansas City Chiefs in the last AFL/NFL championship tilt.

That was the last success for what was really the remnants of the Paul Brown era in Cleveland, although the Browns made the playoffs in 1971 and 1972, but didn’t advance in either year.

In ’72, they did put a scare into what turned out to be the undefeated Miami Dolphins, leading in the fourth quarter before a blocked punt turned the game around and Don Shula’s team escaped with a win.

Cleveland didn’t win a playoff game again until 1986, although they did have a brief period of excitement when Sam Rutigliano was the head coach and the Browns became one of the first teams to emphasize the passing game.

In 1980, the Browns won the AFC Central and lost to Oakland in the famous “Red Right 88” game where Brian Sipe threw an interception with the team in point blank range for a game winning field goal.

To be fair, the conditions were horrible that day, and kicker Don Cockroft misses two extra points early.

The closest the Browns got to the Lombardi Trophy was 1986, with the AFC Championship in Cleveland, and Marty Schottenheimer’s squad took a 20-13 lead over Denver in the 4th quarter after Bernie Kosar hit Brian Brennan for a 48 yard touchdown strike.

Watching that game, we felt the Browns were going to get to their first Super Bowl.  But then John Elway orchestrated the drive and Cleveland lost in overtime, 23-20.  Denver lost the Super Bowl to the Giants.

The following year the same two teams matched up again, and again a bitter disappointment greeted Browns’ fans as Earnest Byner fumbled as he tried to score the game tying TD.

What made that game particularly galling was that Cleveland came back from a 28-10 deficit to the brink of tying the contest.

Denver again went on to lose the Super Bowl to Washington.

The last time the franchise got close was two years later, when they again lost to Denver, this time with Bud Carson at the helm.

Kosar’s finger was injured and the Browns got thumped in Denver, 37-21, and once again the Broncos got obliterated in the Super Bowl, this time by the 49ers.

Since then, the Cleveland Browns have won one playoff game, with one of today’s Super Bowl coaches, Bill Belichick, patrolling the Cleveland sidelines.

That’s been it.

Now, the Browns have started its most ambitious building process in the history of the franchise.  They gutted the roster, purging most of the veterans and are now starting to build with a boatload of draft picks, which they hope will turn into a franchise quarterback, and a host of good young players they hope will lead the team back to the playoffs.

And eventually, into the first Super Bowl Cleveland has ever been a part of.

There aren’t many franchises that haven’t been to the Bowl, and the only two who pre-date the game itself are the Lions and Browns.

So, Browns fans will watch the game today without the experience of ever being part of the festivities.

But it is worth reminding everyone that the team has come close a few times, and in the early years of the game, the Browns were a contender to get there.

That was a long, long time ago unfortunately.

JD

Tribe Front Office Keeps Improving Team.

The Cleveland Indians aren’t kidding around this winter.

Fresh off an American League championship and a trip to the World Series, the ownership and front office of the team have thrown any caution they have had in the past to the wind, and are hell bent on improving the ballclub

All fans were giddy with the addition of one of the game’s most prolific and consistent sluggers in Edwin Encarnacion.  He fits perfectly into the middle of Terry Francona’s lineup.

Yesterday, Chris Antonetti and GM Mike Chernoff bolstered the already strong bullpen by adding lefty specialist Boone Logan on a one year contract.

Logan is a prototypical LOOGY (left handed one out guy), holding left-handed hitters to a .142 batting average in 2016.  In his career, lefties are hitting .233 against him (670 OPS) and he has struck out 34% of them.

His addition should eliminate any need for Francona to use Andrew Miller early in a game, like the 5th or 6th inning, to get a key left-handed hitter.  That means Miller and Cody Allen can be used in the last three frames to get the toughest hitters opponents can bring up to the plate.

The Tribe bullpen is deep and they are good.  Besides late inning guys Allen, Miller, and Bryan Shaw, Francona has Dan Otero, Logan, and Zack McAllister to work earlier if needed.

And in reserve, he has young arms like Shawn Armstrong, Kyle Crockett, Perci Garner, Nick Goody, Joe Colon, and rule five draftee Hoby Milner that could contribute during the season.

They say statistically a big league team needs ten starting pitchers to complete a season, and the Tribe has depth there as well.

Besides the five current starters (Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Danny Salazar, Trevor Bauer, and Josh Tomlin), the team has Mike Clevinger, Cody Anderson, and Ryan Merritt who will start the season in Columbus.

Since the end of the season, the front office has also added lefty Tim Cooney from St. Louis, who had made six starts for the Cardinals in 2015 before missing last year with calcium deposits in his shoulder.  He will provide depth.

And last week, the Indians traded for Carlos Frias from the Dodgers who has made 15 major league starts in his career.

There is no question pitching can be volatile, and as Francona is wont to say, when you think you have enough pitching, you go out and get more.

The front office heeded his advice.

With an offense led by Encarnacion, Francisco Lindor, Jason Kipnis, and Carlos Santana, the Tribe should score enough runs too.  Don’t forget they also have Jose Ramirez, and solid role players in Lonnie Chisenhall and Brandon Guyer as well.

And if Michael Brantley can stay healthy and return to being one of the league’s best hitters?  The Tribe might just be the team to beat in the AL.

It’s been a long time, probably since 2001, that Cleveland baseball fans could say that.

But in baseball, there are no for sures.  There are always injuries, and that’s why you need depth in the organization, which the front office recognized.

This isn’t 2008 or 2014, the last two times the Cleveland Indians made the playoffs.  This winter, the organization didn’t rest on its laurels.  They added on to the American League Champions.

MW

Defense Is Cavs’ Biggest Issue

The Cleveland Cavaliers are in a funk.

Perhaps it’s an annual thing, because they seem to go through this each of the last two Januarys, or maybe they are simply bored as the season has just passed the halfway point.

Maybe it’s a hangover from the franchise’s first title last summer, and they will be able to turn the switch after the All Star game at the end of February.

Whatever, it’s not very pretty to watch.

Monday’s loss to Dallas was embarrassing.  Yes, they are missing two starters due to injury in JR Smith and Kevin Love, but so were the Mavericks, who were without Deron Williams and Andrew Bogut.

Dallas is the third worst team in the Western Conference at 18-30 and have a below .500 record at home.  And they played the night before and picked up a huge road win, perhaps their biggest of the year, at San Antonio.

Still, the Cavs couldn’t take advantage.  They continue to struggle away from Quicken Loans Arena, dropping to 11-10 on the road for the season.

And while LeBron James continues to say the team needs a backup point guard, the biggest need for the wine and gold is to improve their defense.

Yes, if you play an up tempo game, you are going to give up points in the NBA, but the Cavs have allowed 100 or more points in 13 of the last 14 games.  In the first 33 games this season, Cleveland held their opponents under 100 points 13 times.

That’s why in today’s “tryout camp” for veterans that the Cavs are having today, we would look for defense first.

Now, that being said, we don’t want players who don’t have any ability to put the ball in the basket, like say DeAndre Liggins.  Those players become liabilities when you have the ball and allow teams to double on James and Kyrie Irving.

However, we would look to sign players who can defend, but also have the ability to score.  We understand that sounds like an oxymoron, but Tyronn Lue has players who can shoot at his disposal, guys like Smith, Channing Frye, and Kyle Korver.

But outside of Smith, they are not strong on defense.

What is really needed though is an accountability from the current players on the defensive end.  We have seen too many opposing players getting by their defender, which causes someone to help, and that leaves someone wide open on the perimeter.

If the help doesn’t arrive, then it’s a lay up.  That is happening far too often, and it isn’t just elite players causing problems.  Heck, Dallas had Yogi Farrell, currently on a 10 day contract, and Seth Curry, not Steph Curry, parading to the basket.

That just comes down to personal responsibility.  Keep your man in front of you.  We know they are capable of doing that, which plays into our boredom argument.

We understand there probably isn’t a real threat to the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference, but that doesn’t mean if these bad habits aren’t curtailed soon, other teams might feel like they have a shot.

Part of the Cavs’ mystique is many other teams are defeated before they take the floor.  That’s something they don’t want to lose, and stepping it up on the defensive end is a step in that direction.

JK