Haslam’s Opinion Seeking Leaves Us Feeling Hopeless.

It just keeps getting better if you are a fan of the Cleveland Browns.

If it isn’t enough to be watching a team that hasn’t won a game this season, a feat accomplished just once before in a 16 game season, and compounding that with just one measly win in the past two seasons, you get the information that came out yesterday.

It has been reported that owner Jimmy Haslam has consulted with national football writers such as Peter King, Chris Mortensen, and Adam Schefter, to ask their opinions on the Browns.

This seems harmless on face value, but when you think about it, it points out many of the problems with the Haslam ownership, and when you add it all up, it seems hopeless for Browns’ fans.

First, those writers mentioned are certainly great writers, and no doubt love the sport of football.  No one in their right mind would question their passion.

However, if those guys were so good at judging personnel, both on and off the field, they would be employed by an NFL team.  They are information gatherers and reporters.

This isn’t to say media people cannot have a working knowledge of the sport.  But can they tell what would make a good defensive end in the pros, or who would make a dynamite head coach without asking around to their many sources around the league?

Second, it seems Haslam likes to talk.  And then talk some more.

There are sayings, such as “talk is cheap”, and “actions speak louder than words”.  Haslam seems to be a guy who likes to keep talking, but he can’t discern who are the correct people to listen to.

If you talk to “football guys” like Bill Parcells, Bill Polian, and Jon Gruden, you will get three different opinions on what makes a winning team, and quite frankly all of them would be correct.

However, if you put bits and pieces of each plan together, it likely does not work.  Here’s another expression…”too many cooks spoil the broth”.  The point is the Browns’ owner has too many voices in his head.

And listening to the national media is probably the biggest reason it appears Haslam may bring Hue Jackson back in 2018, despite a probable 1-31 record in two seasons.

The national guys love them some Hue Jackson.

Jackson has two major advocates in Mike Silver and Amy Trask, who speak in glowing terms about the Browns’ head coach pretty much on a weekly basis.

This is not to denigrate either one, they have long relationships with Jackson, and naturally people who like other people talk well about them.

However, because they respect Jackson, they are not objective about him either.

Could it be that in conversations between media people, they share their glowing views of Hue Jackson, and that also colors the opinions of King, Mortensen, and Schefter?

Haslam may have made a good move in hire John Dorsey as his GM.  Time will certainly tell, but Dorsey has a solid resume.

But now, Haslam has to trust Dorsey and allow him to build the organization is the way he feels is the best.  And if Dorsey wants to bring in a head coach he respects and feels he can work with, then that’s what should happen.

Someone has to be the ultimate decision maker.  Whether you like him or not, Haslam needs to let Dorsey be that guy.

JD

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Yesterday’s Cavs Loss Makes Us Feel Good.

There are so many ways to look at yesterday’s Christmas Day match up of what is currently the NBA’s hottest rivalry, the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors.

Yes, the defending champs won at home, 99-92, but this was a tie game with two minutes remaining, and the Warriors got an offensive rebound and Klay Thompson converted a three pointer to put Golden State up for good.

We understand that Stephen Curry did not play for Steve Kerr’s group, but Isaiah Thomas has yet to suit up for Tyronn Lue, and both should be ready for the rematch at Quicken Loans Arena next month.

The Cavs hung in this game despite shooting just 31.8% for the game, and made just 3 of 24 shots in the second quarter.

Yes, the Warriors are good defensively, but they aren’t making a habit of making teams shoot this poorly on a night to night basis.  There was a little bad luck for the wine and gold shooting that poorly.

Still, despite this inability to put the ball in the cylinder, the wine and gold were in the game to the end.

From a Cleveland standpoint, it was also the first time several Cavs played in a battle between these two teams, and many of those newbies didn’t do well yesterday, something we expect to change going forward.

The Cavs’ bench, normally one of the league’s best, made just 6 of 26 shots, and Dwyane Wade, a veteran of this kind of intensity, made four of those shots.  Jeff Green, who has been solid all season, had a poor game.

However, Jae Crowder responded with a 15 point, six rebound afternoon, and responded well to the physicality during the game.

And of course, no Cavs-Warriors game would be complete without the officiating coming into question.  Kevin Durant’s non-called fouls against James down the stretch reminded us of the game five no call in last year’s Finals, when he hit James in the head on a drive, which would have been his third foul (in the second quarter), but it was ignored by the officials.

One decision Lue and his staff have to ponder is the role of Tristan Thompson going forward.  Cleveland is 18-3 when Thompson plays less than six minutes in a game this season, and 6-7 when he is on the court longer.

With the emergence of Kevin Love playing center, and the effectiveness of the second unit when Channing Frye is out there, it is tough to see where Thompson fits.

By the way, didn’t Love put to rest the notion he can’t play against Golden State with yesterday’s 31 point, 18 rebound performance?

Back to Thompson, he doesn’t seem to fit with the Cavs anymore.  His main strength on defense was being able to switch on pick and rolls, but the team is doing better with that as a whole.

Offensively, with spacing being a huge deal in James and Wade being able to penetrate, Thompson doesn’t have to be guarded, because even after six years in the league, he still cannot knockdown a shot from outside of five feet.

Thompson played just 11 minutes yesterday, getting two points and six boards.  Frye did not play.  We wonder what he could have brought to the table on a day the Cavs were having problems making shots.

All that aside, yesterday’s game showed the Cavs probably are better suited to handle the Warriors next summer than they were a year ago, which is what management wanted.

Still, by the time next June rolls around, and if the two teams meet for a fourth straight year with the title on the line, it could be a different situation.

Cavs’ fans should continue to enjoy the chase, and long forward to Thomas’ debut, which will probably be this week.

JK

 

 

Does Anyone Still Think Hue Wants To Run?

It was going to be the best play of Myles Garrett’s young career.

He caught a deflected pass and rumbled toward the end zone, breaking a tackle, and getting the defensive score the Cleveland Browns had been looking for all season, putting his team ahead, 9-6.

He fired the ball into the stands in glee.

But as things are when you are 0-14, there was a flag down.  Carl Nassib lined up in the neutral zone, nullifying Garrett’s score.

And that pretty much ended today’s game.  Hue Jackson’s team dropped to 0-15 on the season, 1-30 during his tenure, losing to the Chicago Bears, 20-3 at Soldiers’ Field.

Since both teams are starting rookie quarterbacks, the contrast is startling when comparing the two teams.

On a snowy, windy day, the white stuff was accumulating on the field in the first half, the Bears, now 5-10 on the year, ran the ball 31 times compared to just 20 for the Browns.

As has been the case for most of the year, Cleveland averaged more yards per running play, 3.8 to 3.1.  The Browns didn’t get nearly as much out of DeShone Kizer on the ground either.  He gained just 8 yards on three carries, whereas Mitchell Trubisky (Mentor native, we are obligated to say) picked up 44 yards rushing.

This means Cleveland’s running backs gained 64 yards on 17 attempts (3.8 average) compared to the Bears’ 53 yards on 24 attempts (2.2 average).

Can the national media get it out of their head that Jackson wants to run the football.

It has been clear all year long that despite averaging in the top in the league in average yards per attempt on the ground, and an offensive line with solid pieces in Joel Bitonio, Kevin Zeitler, and JC Tretter, and for part of the year, future Hall of Famer Joe Thomas, that the coach doesn’t want to run it.

After the Bears’ scored their only TD in the first half, Jackson dialed up five consecutive passing plays on a day that screamed running.

The Browns best drive of that half was seven minutes long, leading into the two minute warning.  They mixed six runs and have short passes to move 50 yards.

On a 2nd and 4, after a six yard run by Crowell, Kizer threw for the end zone, where the pass for picked off, the QB’s 20th of the season.

And despite it being just a 6-3 deficit at half, which turned into 10 points after the Bears first drive, but still with over 27 minutes to go, Cleveland ran just three more running plays the rest of the game, and one of them was the last play, a three yard gain by Matthew Dayes.

The lack of an attempt to establish a ground game causes the Browns to lose the time of possession battle, the Bears had the ball for 33 minutes today.

The total yards for the two teams was about even, but once again, Cleveland lost the turnover battle, 3-0.  Reminder, the Browns have not won the turnover game at all this season.

They have been even three times (week 1 vs. Pittsburgh, and both Cincinnati games), and ten times have had two or more turnovers than their opponents.

The last forced turnover by the defense?  Week 11, five games ago, vs. Jacksonville, when Garrett recovered a fumble caused by Christian Kirksey’s sack of Blake Bortles.

The defense did have five sacks today, the biggest output of the season.

Anyway, it’s on to Pittsburgh and one last attempt to avoid joining the 2008 Detroit Lions as the only 0-16 teams in NFL history.  A pretty daunting task.

JD

 

 

 

Is Dorsey Really A GM If He Can’t Hire The Coach?

It occurred to us today that although John Dorsey’s title is General Manager of the Cleveland Browns, he really isn’t a GM at all.

The title infers the Dorsey is managing the football operations, but as it stands right now, he is in charge of procuring players either via the waiver wire or the draft.  That would make him a personnel director, not a GM.

This is because of the crazy management set up by ownership, where the Dorsey and coach Hue Jackson both report to Jimmy Haslam.

This organizational chart just invites a power struggle.  And Haslam should be very familiar with this because it literally just happened.

When Sashi Brown was put in charge of the 53 man roster and Jackson was brought in as coach shortly thereafter, they claimed to be on the same page, apparently Jackson was okay with stripping down the roster and going with a total rebuild.

As the losses extended into year two of the regime, Jackson bailed on the plan, and started throwing Brown under the bus.  He complained about the players, saying he didn’t have enough talent to win games.

Obviously, when we had Haslam’s ear, he kept telling the boss Brown’s plan wasn’t working and the Browns needed to bring a “football guy” in here to speed up the process.

We have no way of knowing if Sashi Brown bad mouthed the head coach in his meetings with the owner.

The disturbing thing is why would Haslam think the very same thing won’t occur again with the Dorsey/Jackson coupling?

The national media have a high opinion of Jackson, assigning him no blame to him for the horrible 1-29 record for the franchise over the last two seasons.

Locally, more and more people are realizing that Jackson is not taking the necessary steps to win football games.  Better use of the running game, which would take pressure off a rookie quarterback, would be a good start.

The Browns throw more passes of 20 yards or more than any other team in the NFL, certainly not taking the pressure off DeShone Kizer.

If Dorsey is truly running the football operations, he must be free to hire his own coach.  That would ensure there would be no backstabbing, and that the coach and Dorsey would be on the same page.  They would have a shared vision.

Another benefit of the harmony could also be no more leaking stories of unhappiness and discord within the organization to the national media.  We think we know the source of that information.

It’s a perfect time to make the move too.  The Browns will likely be picking a quarterback with the first overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft this spring.  You could have your new GM, new coach, and franchise QB all coming aboard together.

This seems to be a constant issue for this franchise.  Remember in the 80’s when Art Modell picked Marty Schottenheimer over the guy, Ernie Accorsi,  who accumulated the talent for the teams that made three AFC title games in four years.

After a few years, Schottenheimer fell out of favor and was replaced by Bud Carson.  In a matter of four years, both Accorsi and Schottenheimer were gone.

If you are going to bring in a “football guy”, then give him control of the whole shooting match.  That’s the best chance to get this organization out of the malaise it has been in for over 20 years.

JD

 

Tribe Has Santana Hole To Fill

The Cleveland Indians we have known over the past two years, an American League Championship team in 2016, and a 102 win team a year ago is no more.

When we say that, we don’t mean the Tribe is no longer a favorite to make the post-season, and we certainly don’t mean the Indians are not one of the best teams in the AL.

With their starting pitching and the keystone combination of Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez, they have the potential to get back to the Fall Classic and win it.

However, some key pieces will be missing when the squad reconvenes in Goodyear, Arizona in February.

We’ve already talked about relievers Bryan Shaw and Joe Smith departing via free agency, but now a key part of the offense is gone too with Carlos Santana signing a deal with the Philadelphia Phillies.

Santana, who has been with the Tribe since 2010, isn’t a superstar, but he is dependable and productive, the former being something overlooked by many.

In five of his eight years here, he had an OPS over 800, combining an excellent on base percentage (walking over 90 times every year from 2011-2016), with some pop (over 18 home runs in each full season with the Indians).

He also played in at least 143 games in each of the last seven seasons as well.

Because he’s a switch-hitter, Terry Francona knew he could put Santana’s name in the lineup everyday, and he worked hard to make himself a very good defensive first baseman.

That said, we felt the Phillies overpaid for Santana and we do not blame the Tribe front office for not paying him $20 million per year for three years.  Remember, Santana will turn 32 right after the 2017 season starts.

So, what does the Tribe do at first base for 2018?

We believe the logical move is putting Michael Brantley there, since Dr. Smooth’s defense has declined some in recent years, and Brantley has experience at the position in the minor leagues.

That move would open up leftfield for Jason Kipnis.

We know Kipnis is supposedly on the trade block because Ramirez is now entrenched at second, but he’s coming off an off-season due to injuries, hitting just .232 (705 OPS) with 12 home runs.

So dealing him means you will likely get 50 cents on the dollar.  We would put him in left and hope he bounces back to a good year, and then, if you want to move his contract (he would make close to $15 million in ’19), you might get a better return.

Another option could be Yandy Diaz, who has to play everyday someplace with his bat, as he has no more to prove in the minors after hitting .350 at Columbus (with the highest on base percentage in the minors) last season.

Diaz hits the ball hard and can work counts too.  If the staff can get him to hit the ball in the air more often, he could have a huge year for Cleveland.

Other options outside the organization a lot of people mention would be Logan Morrison (coming off a career year in Tampa), Matt Adams (really a platoon player), and Eric Hosmer (would likely cost more than Santana).

It will be interesting to see the market for Jay Bruce now.  The longer he stays unsigned, the more the Tribe could get back in the mix, with Lonnie Chisenhall either moving to first or leftfield with Kipnis being moved.

Many fans didn’t like Santana, but his departure leaves the offense with a big hole.  We are sure Chris Antonetti and his group are on the case.

MW

Another Exhausting Sunday For Browns’ Fans

The Cleveland Browns are exhausting to watch because over the past two seasons every game seems like the Bill Murray film Groundhog Day.

It’s the same crummy game plans, the same dumb mistakes, it’s a complete rerun every stinking, single week.

We may not speak for all Browns fans, but here is a list of things we are tired of seeing, and we aren’t even talking about losing.

Oh, by the way, the Browns are now 0-14 after today’s 27-10 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in what was mercifully, the last home game of the season.  Hue Jackson’s record as coach of Cleveland falls to 1-29.

We are tired of the abandonment of the running game.  What if we told you that one team averaged 6.8 yards per run, and the other 3.1.  And one team had 31 running plays, the other just 19.

You would obviously think the team that averaged almost seven yards per carry probably used 31 running plays.

You would of course be wrong.

The lunacy is after a drive which gave Cleveland a 7-3 lead in the second quarter and consisted of five running plays netting 96 yards, the brown and orange ran 10 consecutive passing plays.

There was one play where QB DeShone Kizer scrambled after dropping back to throw, and ran with the ball, so there was a rushing attempt, but it was not a running play.

Isaiah Crowell had a 59 yard run on the touchdown drive, then carried it just one more time the rest of the game.

We are tired of illegal formation penalties, there seems to be at least one each and every week.  This is the 14th game of the season, shouldn’t players know where to line up by now?

We are tired of Kizer’s red zone turnovers.  The rookie threw an interception from the Ravens’ 6 yard line, throwing to Crowell when he was covered by not one, not two, not three, but four Raven defenders.

What exactly is Kizer being taught by the so-called “quarterback whisperer”?  It is definitely not take care of the football.

We are tired of not seeing the coaching staff use weapons like rookie TE David Njoku and WR Corey Coleman.  The two combined for one more catch than we had today.

We are tired of seeing tight ends dominate the Cleveland defense.  Gregg Williams’ group had problems covering them in game one, and once again, here on game 14, they still cannot cover them.

Former Brown Benjamin Watson, now 36 years old, caught four passes for 74 yards, including a 33 yard touchdown.

We are tired of the resignation this coaching staff has towards defeat.  Myles Garrett gets held often, but it doesn’t seem like an issue for the coaches.  Joe Flacco obviously intentionally grounded the ball in the second half, and no one complained boisterously.

We are tired of Kizer’s inaccuracy.  He was 20 of 37 on the day, a tick just over 50%, when in today’s NFL, the benchmark is 60%.

That inaccuracy goes with his seemingly terrible pocket presence.  He ran himself into a sack once again today.

And we are tired on seeing the Browns on defense for vast amounts of the game every week.

Today, the Ravens had the ball for 37 minutes, compared to 23 for Cleveland.  Is the defensive scheme perfect?  No.  However, that unit is on the field for long periods every game, due to the team’s lack of a commitment to the running game.

Browns’ fans deserve better.  This team won one game a year ago, and added a number of good players:  Garrett, Kevin Zeitler, JC Tretter, Jason McCourty, Njoku, etc., yet they are somehow worse.

The next installment of this horror film occurs next week in Chicago.  A very Merry Christmas Eve indeed.

JD

 

Tribe Bullpen Will Need Revamping

One of the strengths of the Cleveland Indians the past several years has been their bullpen, but right now it could have a revamped look in 2018.

Sure, the back end of the relief corps is still anchored by Andrew Miller and Cody Allen, which means the 8th and 9th innings are taken care of.

The problem right now is the bridge between the starting pitchers and that dynamic duo for the last two innings.

Terry Francona has lost one of his main guys in rubberarmed Bryan Shaw, and another reliever who came aboard at the trade deadline a year ago, Joe Smith, will also not be back.

On a lesser note, Shawn Armstrong, who was kind of the swing guy between the big leagues and AAA a year ago, was traded to Seattle.

Francona said at the end of last season that it may take two pitchers to take the place of Shaw, who appeared in an American League leading 79 games in ’17, and has led the AL in games pitched in three of the last four seasons.

It is hard to see the replacements for Shaw and Smith on the current roster.

Nick Goody, picked up in a minor deal with the Yankees about a year ago, is probably the next hurler on Tito’s pecking order.  Goody was 1-2 with a 2.80 ERA in 54-2/3 innings in 2017.  He did strikeout 72 hitters last year, so he has swing and miss stuff.

Dan Otero is a guy Francona leans on early in games, so perhaps he could used in the 6th and 7th innings.  The righty was 3-0 with a 2.85 ERA in ’17, but he is more of a sinkerballer with only 38 whiffs in 60 innings.

Zack McAllister is another option, but Francona seems to be hesitant to use him in high leverage situations because he’s basically a one pitch pitcher.

Perhaps Danny Salazar, with his electric stuff and durability issues, can be moved to the bullpen, but no one knows how his arm will react to this change in roles, and can he be effective over the long haul.

There doesn’t seem to be any in the minor leagues ready to step in and contribute either, but then again, no one saw Goody as a legitimate option heading into spring training.

We are sure the front office is looking at either a deal or free agent options for the ‘pen too.

Since the current management team has been in place, the Tribe has found guys like Scott Atchison, Otero, and Goody in free agency or in minor deals, and they have provided great help in relief.

We mentioned former Indians’ farmhand Hector Rondon previously as an option. He had closer experience with the Cubs.

However, until the replacements have success when the games count for real in April, you have to wonder about them.

And you have to wonder if and when they gain Tito’s trust.  The skipper has a clear pecking order in his bullpen with certain guys pitching when the Tribe has a late lead, and the rest being relegated to pitching when the Indians are behind.

Based on the performance of the front office over the past five seasons, we have trust they will find arms to replace Shaw and Smith.

But there will certainly be a different dynamic in the Cleveland bullpen next season.  New relief toys for Terry Francona.

MW

 

 

Browns’ Biggest Problem Is Their Structure.

In the great debate regarding the Cleveland Browns, front office vs. coaching staff, we have been firmly committed as a member of Team Sashi.

That being said, if owner Jimmy Haslam felt adding GM John Dorsey meant adding a better talent evaluator to the front office to go along with Andrew Berry, we can’t argue too much.

However, it really doesn’t address the greatest issue with this football team, the coaching of Hue Jackson.

Jackson’s record of 1-28 as everyone knows, but our feeling is although the Browns need to add more very good players, especially at quarterback, to be a playoff contender, they have as much, if not more talent than other NFL teams who have managed to mix a win or two into their schedule.

The biggest problem is the ridiculous hierarchy Haslam has in place, with Dorsey, Paul DePodesta, and Jackson all reporting directly to the owner.  Name another NFL team with that set up.

We get that since Sashi Brown did not have a lot of NFL personnel experience, it might not be a good idea to have the coach report to him.

But, why not let Dorsey bring in a coach he can work with and let him be the coach’s boss?  That would seem put the coach and GM on the same page, a singular direction for the franchise that would be refreshing.

Besides, it would be a perfect time to do it too.  Most likely, the Browns will use the first overall pick in next spring’s draft to get a quarterback, making it a perfect time to move forward with a GM, coach, and QB.

The problem is Haslam likes to have everyone report to him so he can be everyone’s friend.  He owns the team, he can talk to anyone he wants, but the decision making capabilities should center around one person.

This also makes it easy to figure out who should take the blame.

If Jackson is brought back, the team runs the risk of having its new quarterback having to go through a coaching change during or after his rookie season.  That would seem to be counter to the development of the player.

As we now know, Jackson’s reputation as a molder of young signal caller is vastly overrated, in fact, we really don’t want the coach around Josh Rosen, Baker Mayfield, or whoever Dorsey takes at the top of the draft.

Also, you have to believe, in his heart of hearts, Dorsey would love to have his own guy in place as head coach, someone who shares his vision, and wants to carry out his plan.

It’s not like Jackson has shown much as the head coach either.  His main attribute is the team is still playing hard, which is something that 28 other NFL teams can claim.

He’s a self promoter who threw his front office under the bus on a weekly basis, has huge issues with clock management, eschews the running game even though he has a rookie quarterback, and his team lacks discipline.

Why would Dorsey want him to lead this team for another season?

The Browns should not be this bad.  Jackson’s team has lost when the QB played well, when the running game has been good, when the defense has been good.

However, there are two common themes:  Losing and Hue Jackson.

JD

 

 

Who Takes Blame For Browns’ Latest Loss?

It was a tumultuous week for the Cleveland Browns, especially on Thursday when Vice President of Football Operations Sashi Brown was fired by owner Jimmy Haslam, and replaced later that day by General Manager John Dorsey.

Amazingly, Hue Jackson was given a vote of confidence by the owner and it was announced he would be back for the 2018 season, despite a 1-27 record during his tenure.

With Dorsey in attendance at First Energy Stadium, the Browns blew a two touchdown lead they gained late in the third quarter, and lost to the Green Bay Packers in overtime, 27-21, dropping them to 0-13 on the season, and 1-28 since Jackson took over last year.

We have maintained most of the year that the Browns were not as bad as their record indicated, and today was another example, as Cleveland dominated much of the first three quarters, but couldn’t come up with the victory.

Jackson’s team outgained Green Bay, and held the Packers to under 100 yards rushing for the game, but lost because they played not to lose after scoring to make it a 21-7 game, and because of another horrible turnover by DeShone Kizer.

After that last score, with 2:49 left in the third quarter, it seemed Gregg Williams’ defense went into prevent mode, allowing Brett Hundley to complete short pass after short pass, leading to a 13 play, 75 yard drive to close the gap to 21-14.

After the first drive of the contest, the Browns’ defense hadn’t allowed the Packers much, so we don’t understand the change in philosophy.  With three minutes to go in the game, we could understand it, but there were 18 minutes left.

It is worth noting that Jackson challenged a juggling catch, that clearly (on live look) appeared to be a catch, costing the Browns a timeout.

The score that tied the game was set up by a special teams’ gaffe, allowing Travis Davis to return a punt 65 yards to the Browns’ 25 with a little over two minutes to go.

Instead of pinning Green Bay deep in their own territory, they had a short field for the game tying score.

When was the last time the Cleveland special teams had a game without a glaring mistake?

Offensively, Jackson has talked all year about the lack of talent.

Granted, Josh Gordon just returned last week, but Isaiah Crowell, who had 121 yards on 19 carries, has been here all year.

Corey Coleman, criticized recently for being just an average player, caught five passes for 62 yards, and seems to be a good compliment for Gordon.

Unfortunately, TE David Njoku didn’t seem to be part of the game plan, catching just one pass for three yards.

Still, we saw some nice play calling.  The game opened on a play action pass on first down, with Kizer hitting Gordon for 38 yards.

We also saw a number of screen passes, and even a shuffle pass in the red zone, which Duke Johnson turned into a touchdown.

We wonder where that has been all season.

However, with a chance to win, Kizer tried to make a big play when he should have eaten the ball, and threw an interception, his second of the day, when Clay Matthews Jr. hit his arm, forcing the ball to go straight up in the air, where it was picked off by Josh Jones.

That led to the game winning TD in overtime, and the Browns’ 14th straight loss.

File this one into the list of games the team could have won this season.  It’s far too many for a team without a win.

There is talent on this football team, and thanks for that should go to the deposed Brown.  Unfortunately, the problem is poor coaching, and at least for the time being, that problem still exists.

JD

 

Wade’s Presence On Cavs Can’t Be Emphasized Enough

There is no question that Dwyane Wade is one of the all time greats of the NBA, and will be inducted in Springfield soon after he retires.

He’s a 12 time All Star, a three time champion, and you can make the argument he is the third best shooting guard in history behind Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.

Right now, he is showing he still can be an important player for a title contender as one of the best sixth men in the NBA with the Cavaliers.

Wade has embraced the role, which is something legends sometimes can’t accept.  For example, can anyone imagine Bryant doing for any team what Wade is doing for the Cavs?

His minutes have dropped to about 24 per game, and his scoring average is now a little better (11.9) than half of his career mark of 23.0

Right now, his shooting percentage is his highest since 2014-15, and his three point shot is better than its ever been, at 35.7% to date, compared to 28.8% for his career.

His assists are right on par with last season in Chicago, even though he’s playing six minutes less per game, and the defensive metrics show him as one of the three best defenders for the wine and gold.

While the numbers are solid, the best way to appreciate what Wade is doing for Tyronn Lue’s team is using your eyes.

Wade consistently makes the right pass, the right defensive rotation, gets key block shots, etc.  As we write this, it would seem to make total sense, because as we said earlier, he’s an all time great, but remember, fans in northeast Ohio are watching him on a night in, night out basis for the first time.

We first saw Wade in person when he led Marquette to the Final Four in New Orleans, and our first impression was he had an old school game, with a tremendous ability to hit the mid range jumper, a skill that was diminishing in the game.

Remember, through the first 12 games of this season, the Cavaliers looked like an old basketball team.  Younger teams ran up and down the floor, getting easy transition baskets.

Since then, the Cavs have reeled off 13 straight victories, and the second unit, led by Wade and Kyle Korver, both 36 years old, have been a huge key.

Cleveland’s two leading scorers are LeBron James (28.0) and Kevin Love (19.2).  Among players who have played in more than half the Cavs’ games, the next three leaders in scoring are Wade (11.9), Korver (10.3) and Jeff Green (10.2).

When James is sitting out, many times the bench has extended the lead, which is a huge difference from past years.

Heck, in last year’s NBA Finals, the Cavaliers were pretty much even with Golden State when James was on the floor, but when James was out, the Warriors owned a huge advantage.

Because of the production from the bench, the starting lineup could use Isaiah Thomas’ scoring when he returns in the next week or so.  Cleveland has struggled in games early because JR Smith and Jae Crowder have been inconsistent with their shots.

Our hope with Wade is that Lue doesn’t react to his play and start increasing his minutes.  Keep the long range goal in mind.  Leave Wade at around 24 minutes per night, and if you need to increase that slightly in the playoffs, then fine.

He can be quite a weapon if healthy when the playoffs come around.

JK