About a month ago or so I put together my first annual column of, “The ESPY’s: Running Diary Edition.” This was partly because I thoroughly enjoy ESPN’s award show every July, but this was also because I wanted to stay away from being another one of the million columnists who attempt to talk football in the summer months. I know I’m better than that. Period. (Except for my predictions, which you can find here and here.)
But fortunately for us columnists and football fans alike, training camp came before our eyes, so get your popcorn ready. And for the Cleveland Browns, new beginnings are in every crevasse of the organization, and I couldn’t be happier. Not only did the offseason not go terribly (which is terrific, by the way), but both of the front office’s first round draftees signed on for four years. Then, like always, the downward spiral began. And that is where we begin our story…
A quiet couple months in Cleveland have been suddenly interrupted by billionaires, injuries, and decisions from the man in charge. I’ll skip the pointless intro of the sale of the team, all you need to know is that Jimmy Haslam III is the new and current (pending league approval) owner of the Cleveland Browns. Actually, we need to talk about this. Actually, we have a lot to talk about. Let’s get to it:
Jimmy Haslam III
Or otherwise known as “JH Triple Sticks.” (Maybe we won’t call him that.) Randy Lerner finally decided to give up controlling interest for the team he didn’t care about, so maybe this is a good sign. On another note, Lerner became a pretty wealthy man after finalizing the deal for over $1 billion. If you’d like a detailed description on who “JH Triple Sticks” (yeah, we’ll call him that) is, then click here. Basically he’s rich because of his father (not totally a bad thing), his family members are politicians, and he might, kinda-sorta, be a Steelers fan. Before you overreact, he’s thrilled to be in Cleveland. If you need proof, simply read this article from ESPN. (You can trust the source, it’s Adam Schefter.)
If there’s any flaws I’ve found so far, it’s that he’s a Republican and the whole “he owned a share in the Pittsburgh Steelers” thing. (Due to NFL policy, he has been forced to give it up. Thank the freakin’ lord.) There’s a lot more on this story, but if you keep on reading, then you’ll find out.
A Few Injuries
It’s a little more than a few and, honestly, could cost Cleveland in the long run. Not that we’re a playoff team, but if it came to the point where the possibility arose, this could diminish the dream. Among the list of notable players injured, include: Trent Richardson, Chris Gocong, Phil Taylor, and recently, Mohamed Massaquoi. As you probably know, Richardson went under arthroscopic knee surgery this past week to remove “hang nail cartilage.” Fortunately for the offense, he should be able to return prior to the start of the regular season. I don’t believe this procedure should prevent Richardson from having the kind of season I recently predicted, however, still something to keep an eye out for. Knowing the past, I’d keep your fingers crossed.
Unfortunately for the defense, the absence of Chris Gocong and Phil Taylor is going to leave gaping holes, especially against the run. Gocong is most likely out for the season with an achilles tendon injury, but Taylor could return in the next few months (they say by October or November). Also something that should be duly noted, as of now, Scott Fujita is facing a three game suspension. Boy, aren’t the linebackers royally screwed right off the bat? That’s okay, we’re the damn Cleveland Browns! We overcome every obstacle in our path! (I’m gonna take that back…)
(I’m not going to shed any light on the Joe Haden failed drug test story. I’ll let the facts come out before I say anything. All I’ve heard is a possible 4 game suspension. And that doesn’t sound too charming. If you’d like to personally know more, read this.)
Possible Departure of Holmgren
Here comes the bad news on the Haslam era. According to sources, “JH Triple Sticks” has a man ready to take over operation of the franchise. And that man is Joe Banner, former president of the Philadelphia Eagles. As you already know, the Cleveland Browns already have a president, Mike Holmgren. I’m very fond of Holmgren, I agree with everything he’s done to revamp the franchise. I’m not ready to throw it away. However, Holmgren has officially stated that he would not be surprised if he was no longer with the organization before the end of the 2012 season. Are you freakin’ kidding me?! I have absolutely no comment.
Let the lesson be taken and learned, new ownership isn’t always a productive thing. It may just push the organization back a few more season. Not that the Cleveland Browns are already pinned with their backs against the wall.
Could This Be Shurmur’s Last Season?
It very well could be. Could the new ownership move in another direction? With Holmgren already being run out of town, his head coach could be right behind him. I believe in the Pat Shurmur era, while most don’t, he has his silver linings. Such as the west coast offense (it’s improving) and how the Browns were in it to the end in about every matchup last season. Yet, if another 4 or 5 win season comes afloat, Cleveland could be getting a new head coach. Something the franchise is pretty much used to by now.
Don’t ask me how they could possibly improve by taking a step backward just as things are moving forward (did that make sense?), but the possibility is out there. Just like it always has.
Push for Plaxico
Well, it could be too little too late, but Cleveland needs Plaxico. He’s recently met with the Cowboys and worked out for the Patriots, but the team that desperately needs receivers lies in northern Ohio. And they especially need receivers with experience, talent, and size. I don’t how he’s still a free agent, and by the time I publish this, he probably won’t be, but Holmgren and Heckert need to start recruiting. A receiving depth chart that includes Greg Little, Mohamed Massaquio (injured), Travis Benjamin (sleeper), Josh Gordon (double sleeper), and Josh Cribbs (also some other no-names), needs some help. Some serious help.
If you didn’t know, Mr. Pat Shurmur was the TE coach over at Michigan State for a year or two during Plaxico’s tenure as a Spartan. So come on, Pat, use your resources. I’ve wanted Plaxico on the Browns since the end of last season. And I don’t know what’s taking so damn long just to make some contact with him.
Can Brandon Weeden Be “The Guy?”
“The guy” is the QB that can lead a team to victory. Or be a consistent and reliable player under center. Weeden has the toughness, the mentality, the size, the arm, and the composure to be “the guy.” I’ve believed in Weeden ever since we drafted his rights at slot #22 during the draft in April, and I liked his performance in Cleveland’s W over the Lions on Friday night. Although the stats may not look convincing, you could make the case that a couple incompletions were not his fault (drops), while one or two were smart decisions to throw away the football under pressure. And for that interception, the receiver played a partial role. He looked good, he threw down the field with confidence and stepped up into the pocket without fear of the defense. The Weeden era could be a wonderful thing, even if he’s 28 years old.
We’ll see how these 3 preseason games play out and how ready he looks for the regular season. Also, it’s not like he has any receivers, right? Weeden can be “the guy,” and maybe even in his rookie season. I’ll be buying his jersey, however, I did buy Colt’s too, so I don’t have any credibility.
As long as Richardson’s knee holds up and the new ownership doesn’t screw with the process, the ships are ready to sail in Cleveland. But unlike Captain Edward John Smith, we aren’t letting this ship sink. (Yes, I agree, that was a cheap shot.)
I’m out of time and there’s a new episode of Breaking Bad on tonight (as well as The Newsroom), so that’s it for now. Plenty more coming this season.
A lot’s happened in Cleveland, I tried to catch you up. More next week.
About the Author
Written by Corey Rioux
A wise man once told me, "Sports are modern-day mythology." I tend to disagree. Proper grammar is optional. You can read my columns here: http://www.prosportsblogging.com/author/c_rioux23/ You can follow me on twitter at: @CoreyRioux You can contact me via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org