Tag Archives: cleveland browns

Leicester City: The Greatest Sports Story. Ever.

 

By Nate Flax

As the clock hit the 96th minute of the Tottenham – Chelsea match, the entire soccer world realized that the greatest underdog story in sport history had concluded. After trailing 2-0 at halftime, Chelsea came back to draw with the second place Tottenham Hotspur, thanks to a brilliant 80th minute equalizer by Chelsea’s Eden Hazard. As the final whistle blew to end the heated London Derby, Tottenham’s title hopes were dashed and for the second year in a row, a new Premier League champion was decided at Stamford Bridge. However, this time it wasn’t one of England’s heavyweight contenders, but instead a club that had been written off before the season even started.

Leicester City

Located right in the heart of England, world-famous clubs, always surrounded Leicester with Manchester just to the North and London to the South, but until this year, very few that did not follow the BPL closely even knew a soccer club existed there, even though the team was founded in 1884 (132 years ago). The Leicester City Foxes were simply insignificant, finishing at the bottom of the table the year before and had only received promotion into England’s top league the year before that. They entered the season 5000-1 odds to win the title this year and featured a team that had cost just £80 million to put together (to put in perspective Manchester City spent £80 million on one transfer alone earlier in the year). Billy Beane’s Moneyball scheme wouldn’t stand a chance against this. Other recent previous 5000-1 odds as explained by ESPN’s Paul Carr included 16-year-old Paul Chaplet’s chances at this year’s Masters (where he shot 21 over par and finished dead last) and the Minnesota Timberwolves’ chances to make the playoffs with a month left in the season and their record sitting at 14-35. The odds for Elvis Presley being found alive were also 5000-1.

Being written off before the season even started, Leicester really had no chance of failing any expectations given to them, quite frankly because there were no expectations to start with. But that’s when everything clicked. Led by Riyad Mahrez, Danny Drinkwater, Jamie Vardy, and seasoned manager Claudio Ranieri, the Foxes outdid themselves by continuing to be that pesky opponent that just wouldn’t give up even though they seemingly had no business competing with powerhouses like Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal, and Chelsea. Yet somehow, with Chelsea holding Tottenham to a draw, Leicester City sat seven points clear on top of the table with just two games to play, making it impossible for anyone to catch them, and crowning them the kings of England. With the third smallest budget in the Premier League, the Foxes became the first team not named Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal, or Chelsea in 21 years to win the title, and just the sixth to win out of 48 that have tried since 1992. After a season that proved that money can’t always guarantee a crown, Leicester City concluded the fairy tale of a season that underdogs could previously only dream of.

Trouble in Philly: Sam Bradford Wants Out

by Brendan Ripley-Barasch

The City of Philadelphia has had a tough go with their professional sports teams in recent years. Most notably, the Eagles have consistently under performed despite having elite talent like LeSean McCoy, Demarco Murray and DeSean Jackson at some point over the past four years. The Phillies have quickly plummeted to the bottom of the MLB and how could we forget the 76ers who have been one of the worst teams in NBA history for the past few seasons. The struggles continued when Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford reportedly requested a trade early Monday morning.

                                                                           Image via http://www.philly.com

The former number one overall draft pick is most likely seeking a trade because of the move his current team made a few days ago. Last Thursday the Philadelphia Eagles agreed to send the no. 8, no. 77, and no. 100 picks in this year’s draft along with a first-round pick in 2017 and 2018 second-round pick to the Cleveland Browns to receive the second overall pick in this year’s draft as well as a 2017 fourth-round pick. After the trade was officially completed, Eagles representatives announced that they planned on taking a QB with the second overall pick. It is interesting that Philly decided to trade away so many picks just so they could draft another signal-caller with the second selection. It is only interesting because this past off-season the team signed Bradford to a two-year deal which included $22 million in guaranteed money while also signing former Kansas City quarterback Chase Daniel to a three-year contract where he is guaranteed $12 million.

It is obvious that the Eagles are trying to solidify what is widely seen as the most important position in football and the trade shows just how desperate they were in doing so. Bradford is upset with the move and he has every right to, why would he tolerate being seen as a stop-gap player?

Earlier in the week, reports were that even after the trade, Sam did not wish to be traded and wanted to prove to the organization that he was “the guy.” But now the complete opposite is being said, the next couple days will prove which report is correct. For now we’re going to pretend that Bradford actually does want to be traded. There are a few teams who are in the market for an experienced quarterback. To name a few, the Denver Broncosand San Francisco 49ers.  With the departure of both Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler, Denver is in dire need of a player who can lead the team. In San Francisco’s case, the organization has not shown the most trust in Colin Kaepernick and might be interested in making a deal.

Even with his reported request for a trade, Eagles management is supporting Bradford. Executive Vice President of Football Operations Howie Roseman was quoted as saying, “to reiterate our support for Sam Bradford and go back to our statements last week — that Sam is our starting quarterback.” This statement shows that the team is trying to downplay the drama surrounding their quarterback situation, and they are saying the right things.

Even if the former Oklahoma Sooner did request a trade, the media has no room to criticize him. Just like any other player, Bradford wants respect. And if the team does actually use the 2nd pick on a QB, which will most likely be Carson Wentz, why is it wrong for them to plan for the future? The organization is attempting to change the approach they have had the past few seasons, instead of trying to win now, they are figuring out how to win in the future and that means they must have a quarterback who can do that. It would not be the worst idea to take Wentz and let him sit for a couple of seasons allowing him to adjust to a pro style NFL offense. But even if Wentz isn’t thrown into the fire his rookie year, he still has a lot of pressure on him. Philadelphia sacrificed a lot to get this pick and they are counting on Wentz or any other QB they get to make it worth it.

The 2016 NFL Draft will be held in Chicago on April 28th and Eagles faithful as well as media will be waiting patiently to see what their team does. If Philly sticks to their plan and takes a QB, it will take a couple seasons to see who got the best of the trade because now the Cleveland Browns are seen as the clear winners and that is a first.

 

 

No ‘Hard Knocks’ in Cleveland: Browns make their Best Off-Season Move Yet

By Kaleb Page

March 25, 2015

The NFL off-season has been in full swing with many moves between teams, players and even coaches. When a move is made by the Cleveland Browns, the avid fan base is all over it to let their thoughts be heard.

This Tuesday the organization made arguably its best move of the season and it didn’t even involve a player, coach or even draft picks.

All eyes are on the Browns and more than likely to see what they will mess up this time. This move by the organization tops the moves to add Dwayne Bowe, Brian Hartline, etc.

The Cleveland Browns have officially declined taking part in the acclaimed NFL series ‘Hard Knocks.’ The series, which chronicles the journey of a team from the beginning of training camp until the start of the season, needs a team for this upcoming NFL year. This series has had many memorable seasons like ones with the Jets and Bengals, and being on the inside of the Browns would have set up some must see television.

Especially how the dynamic is between Johnny Manziel and the coaching staff seems way off. From an outsiders view it seems nowhere near what you would expect for someone who was drafted by the organization in the first round. I think it would have been another opportunity for those watching just to go ‘that’s typical browns’ or further provide proof that it is truly ‘the factory of sadness.’

I do think it is in the best interest of the team to decline this sort of thing. Take into account the quarterback issue the team has, the holes the team has across the board and even executives in the organization with their comments; this distraction of television cameras is definitely not needed right now.

Head coach Mike Pettine has had experience with the show as an assistant with the Jets. He made it a point (in an interview on ESPN) that a big factor in him saying ‘no’ to this was the Manziel factor.

“When we decided not to volunteer for ‘Hard Knocks,’ we discussed everything that was involved with it. [Manziel] is certainly something we needed to consider.” – Mike Pettine, Browns Head Coach

I find it interesting how the organization really puts Manziel out as the problem or even the key factor for mishaps. Yes I know Manziel has had his problems and as a young guy growing up as a fast track star, definitely needs to shape up, but there comes a time when the organization just needs to stop the underlying narrative of ‘blame it on Johnny.’

Bravo Browns, you made your best move of the off-season by staying away from the spectacle that is ‘Hard Knocks.’

Can we just not ruin your good move by throwing someone under the bus though?…Please?

 

Cleveland Browns Tossing Bread in the Pond for Oregon Duck, Mariota

By Matt Stevenson

March 25, 2015

The Cleveland Browns didn’t make much of a splash in the first week of free agency, letting big-name targets walk away while trying to keep the boatloads of money in their pocket from falling out.

The Browns added Quarter Back Josh McCown, Defensive Linemen Randy Starks, Defensive Back Tramon Williams, and of course Wide Receivers Brian Hartline and Dwayne Bowe.

With two first round picks the Browns were expected to snag a WR and DL due to the availability of talent at those respective positions. However, now with boosting both positions, the Browns aren’t really in need of first-round talent at these positions.

So with two picks in the first round, where exactly do the Browns go from here? Wait for it folks… the Cleveland Browns will once again try to trade up for a Quarter Back for the second consecutive year.

That’s right, I said it! After the horrid Manziel saga ending with him in rehab for the past few months, the Browns have once again fell in love with a QB, Marcus Mariota. Before I begin my reasoning behind this, let’s explore why we would even consider it.

Mike Pettine voiced his plans and concerns at the NFL Owners Meeting today, March 24th. He revealed a lot of information regarding the upcoming season. The Browns expect to have Johnny Manziel at camp on April 20, as his rehab stint has reportedly shown great signs of improvement although no date has been specified for his discharge. Pettine also addressed the QB situation adding the draft, “will be another opportunity to address the position” as well as stating “Two 1st round picks gives you options, QB the 1 position trading up becomes viable”. Pettine also went on to praise Mariota for his intelligence while adding he hasn’t had any private workouts with anyone and they’re very aware and informed due to the relationship between Mariota and O’Connell.

The signing of the 2 WR is odd, especially considering both have eclipsed 1,000 yard seasons numerous times… Hartline and Bowe aren’t number 1 receivers but they’re also no scrubs. Let’s not forget about Andrew Hawkins and Taylor Gabriel, in which both impressed the organization and fans their first year with the Browns.

Defensive line still remains in question after losing Jablaal Sheard and Ahtyba Rubin in free agency although with Phil Taylor, Ishmaa’ily Kitchen, Armonty and Desmond Bryant, Billy Winn and the newly signed Randy Starks, there isn’t much room for drafting a starting linemen in the first round.

Now to Mariota. Owner Jimmy Haslam said recently that the Cleveland Browns will not succeed in the NFL without a top-10 caliber QB, and that the fix needs to come sooner than later. I’m not quite sure about you, but I know Josh McCown is not a top-10 QB. McCown is a decent starter for the short-term, but both McCown and the Browns know this. However, with trading up to draft the “future” and “face” of the Cleveland Browns last year in Manziel, it’s odd that the owner would act as if we don’t have our QB of the future. Clearly, Manziel is not a reliable option and has obviously disappointed the front office especially after Haslam’s comments.

But why Mariota? Mariota has numerous ties within the organization already, such strong ties that opposing General Managers were complaining to the NFL about it. New QB coach Kevin O’Connell worked Mariota out for 6 weeks prior to his signing with the team, although it was well-known O’Connell was going to be added to the staff. Mariota is comfortable with O’Connell, knows his style, how he likes to run a team starting with the Quarter Back position.

This all was happening in early February. Fast-forward to present time to Marcus Mariota’s Pro-Day a few weeks ago on March 12. Guess who ran the flashy Oregon QB’s Pro-Day? You got it, Kevin O’Connell was. Not only was he calling plays for the young prospect, but he also had Mariota in the huddle with his players. This is an unusual event at a Pro-Day, as it’s usually just throwing and mechanics for Quarter Backs, however O’Connell had Mariota display his leadership as well almost as if it was his own player.

With the top 2 WR likely to be taken by the Browns’ first pick at 12, look for the Cleveland Browns to make a splash elsewhere potentially trading up a few picks to secure their guy. It’s not like we’ve been shy to do so as we’ve traded up to draft Brady Quinn, Brandon Weeden, and of course the legendary Johnny Manziel.

With a big play threat in Dwayne Bowe who has had experience with winning teams, a slot receiver in Brian Hartline who can run routes better than a school bus, and the quickness of Gabriel and Hawkins, it seems like a fast-paced offense that has a certain Oregon Ducks name written all over it.

Leadership, personality, work-ethic and talent. These are the 4 traits that Mariota has possessed over his time at Oregon, 4 traits that Manziel lacks when compared to Mariota at QB.

It shall be an exciting draft once again for the Cleveland Browns, and all signs are pointing towards them tip-toeing their way into the top 5 picks to capture the Oregon Duck that will hopefully take them to the clear watered pond of success.

Cleveland Browns Eyeing Expensive Free Agent Darrelle Revis

By Matt Stevenson

March 11, 2015

Darrelle Revis is set to become a free agent and is looking for a big payday once again. Coming off a Super Bowl with the Patriots, the top-notch corner back was let go by the Patriots after they neglected to pick up his $20 million team option for next year. This leaves a stellar player on the market in which has seen the highest quality players already gone.

The Cleveland Browns are an intriguing team when it comes to Revis due to what they have to offer him. We can offer him boat loads of money, which many other teams can as well. However, we also can offer the best CB tandem in the league to Revis, pairing him up with All-Pro CB Joe Haden. Lastly, “Revis Island” was invented during his best years of his career under former Jets Defensive Coordinator, a guy by the name of Mike Pettine… Cleveland Browns current Head Coach.

The Cleveland Browns have more than $50 million dollars to spend this summer and so far have been quite in Free Agency, although they did sign WR Brian Hartline to a 2 year deal.

With no big splash made and the highest regarded free agents off of the market, many are wondering where the Browns will spend their money and Revis might be the route to take.

There are no doubts that Revis will get offers from teams that are in contention for a Championship, but it comes down to how much money is he willing to give up at the cost of competing for another Super Bowl.

The Oakland Raiders, Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Jets and Patriots are all big plays for Revis. Of course, the Patriots are the only team that can contend right now, but you’d have to imagine there is some tough love after not picking up Revis’ team option.

With Joe Haden already proven as a top-5 CB in the NFL, the Browns can offer Revis Island a CB tandem that no other team can offer him. Justin Gilbert was a first round pick last year and struggled his first season but showed flashes of his potential. Revis would be able to help Gilbert develop but also the 3 together are a perfect fit for Pettine’s press man-cover scheme.

The options are on the table to CB Darrelle Revis, and there are some good ones. Coming off of a Super Bowl, Revis will be getting attention from almost every team in the league. Despite the Patriots attempting to re-sign him for less money, the Cleveland Browns surprisingly have significant benefits to offer Revis that most teams in the NFL can’t.

Expect a hectic week of reporting regarding Revis as the sweepstakes have officially started. One thing will remain no matter what team signs him, there will be millions of dollars spent on the elite CB known as Revis Island.

Johnny Manziel Makes His Grand Entrance to the Stage

By Ellen Chlumecky

As soon as the decision to keep Brian Hoyer on as quarterback for the Cleveland Browns’ playoff run, things quickly changed. The argument that coach Mike Pettine had made for Hoyer seemed so sound, however, he clearly changed his mind quickly after their last game with Hoyer as quarterback. Mike Pettine announced Tuesday afternoon that Johnny Manziel will make his first career start this weekend against the Cincinnati Bengals.

While Pettine made an argument for Hoyer before last weekend’s game, he has turned around and said his decision was not based on Johnny Manziel or Brian Hoyer. Pettine said his decisions and the decisions of his staff are always made me in the best interest of the team. While Pettine expressed that Hoyer did everything he was asked of and followed through on all of these duties professionally, he clearly stated that they are trying to get their offense to perform at a higher level.

Pettine said that Johnny Manziel has been working very hard to earn this opportunity and said it will be very important for every member of the offense to elevate their play for us to obtain their desired result.

While I understand that coaches change their mind about players all the time, it is puzzling to me why Pettine seemed so dead set on Hoyer last weekend but now wants to put Manziel in. I’m well aware that Hoyer did not play his best on Sunday, Pettine built him up to have been a key aspect in their success this year thus far. He made it clear that he wanted Hoyer as quarterback during their playoff run because Manziel was still maturing as a player and did not seem ready for this type of game. However on Monday, Pettine made a statement saying that he was leaning toward a quarterback change during his news conference after Hoyer struggled in a loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

While I understand changing out the inconsistent Hoyer for Manziel, I don’t understand why Pettine would build Hoyer up then pulling the rug out from under him. Manziel will be facing the same pressure that Hoyer had to go through. In addition, this will be Manziel’s first career start, making the pressure even higher. While it was no surprise to fans that the switch was made, I don’t think the way Pettine approached the situation was in his best interest.

I don’t know if Manziel is ready for this type of pressure but I certainly know he has the talent to play well against the Bengals. We will see on Sunday if Pettine’s decision to put the hands of their season of Manziel was the right one.