What’s up guys? Welcome to Tuesday Morning Tilt here at The Combine, where I talk about some interesting things that happened over the weekend, both in life and sports. Couple of real cool topics this week, let’s dive in!
No Pressure Cleveland
I can’t believe I’m actually saying this, but I think the Cleveland Browns have finally found their “Franchise Quarterback” in Baker Mayfield. The brash rookie was dealing Sunday against the Bengals, destroying Cincy and giving the Browns their first road win in like 27 years or something. There are a couple of things I want to dive into here, but the most important message I want to get across is…DON’T FUCK THIS UP CLEVELAND!
The Browns have drafted and drafted and traded and drafted and signed free agents, pretty much everything you can think of in their seemingly eternal search for a QB to build around. Mayfield looks the part and appears to be a legit long-term solution. The question now is what to do once you’ve found your savior QB?
It gives me some hope for the future of the Browns that they were willing to fire Hue Jackson mid-season. It seems that Cleveland GM John Dorsey and the front office realize what they have in Mayfield and decided they didn’t want Jackson screwing him up, not even for the rest of this season, and sent him packing. Smart decision.
The decision on who to hire as Jackson’s replacement will be the most important one the Browns organization makes in the next decade. They have “their guy” at the QB position, but as we’ve seen with players like Jared Goff and Mitch Trubisky, the right coach can make all the difference in the world. Do the Browns go with a young, offensive wizard that’s never been a head coach? Do they go with a veteran coach that knows the ropes and can provide a steady presence?
The thing that makes this coaching search different than the many the Browns have went through in the past, is that this time the Cleveland job is actually desirable. Coaches that are available or even unavailable, have to look at the Browns job as a great opportunity. Cleveland not only has Mayfield, but they have surprisingly drafted really well the past couple of years. Players like Myles Garrett, Denzel Ward, and Nick Chubb are legitimate talents that a new coach can build around. Assuming the Browns don’t keep interim HC Gregg Williams (they shouldn’t), let’s take a look at five possible Cleveland coaching candidates.
1. Lincoln Riley – Let’s go ahead and get this one out of the way. Riley is currently the head coach at the University of Oklahoma and mentored Mayfield to the Heisman Trophy and becoming the number one overall pick. It makes sense. Sean McVay’s success with the Rams has NFL teams willing to take a chance on younger coaches. Riley is 35-years-old and would certainly be an exciting hire that’s familiar with offensive concepts that should allow Mayfield to flourish.
2. Freddie Kitchens – Kitchens was brought in as a running backs coach for Cleveland this past offseason and was promoted to interim Offensive Coordinator when Jackson and Todd Haley were fired. He has done well with the Cleveland offense and Mayfield. The Browns have averaged 28 points per game since Kitchens was promoted and Mayfield has looked unrestrained and confident with the playcalling. It’s a small sample size and Kitchens has no head coaching experience. He comes from the Bruce Arians coaching tree, which brings us to our next possibility…
3. Bruce Arians – Man, I love Bruce Arians. He’s one of the few NFL head coaches that actually seems like a good dude that you could hang out with. Arians loves Cleveland and has already publicly stated that it’s the only job he would come out of retirement for. He’s had tremendous success with QB’s throughout his career, including Big Ben, Andrew Luck, and Carson Palmer’s renaissance in Arizona. Arians is 66, so it would limit the window for success to possibly 3-4 years.
4. The “Hot” Coordinator At The End Of The Season – These are the guys that pop-up every year and fill a ton of coaching vacancies in the NFL. They are coordinators who really stand out and perhaps help their team make a deep run in the playoffs. You’ll here names like Josh McDaniels and John DeFilippo talked about. You will also probably here about coaches that are connected to both the Chiefs and Rams. Keep in mind that Browns GM John Dorsey came from Kansas City.
5. A Coach That Is Currently Coaching An NFL Team – We all know that the NFL is the ultimate recycling bin. Once you’ve been a head coach, it makes it easier to get another gig. While Cleveland fans probably don’t want an also-ran, this offseason could see some long-tenured coaches part ways with their teams. Baltimore’s John Harbaugh has stayed successful, but appears to be close to ending his run with the Ravens. Ditto for Mike McCarthy in Green Bay, though I don’t know why you’d hire a guy that can’t win it all with Aaron Rodgers.
6. Bob Wylie – Because Bob Wylie RULES! If the next coach Cleveland hires doesn’t keep this national treasure on the staff, it’s instant bad mojo for them. SET HUT!
Ok, what the actual fuck??? Let me be clear in saying that I don’t care what Dwight Howard or anyone else does in their private relationships, but this is some wild shit! I honestly had to Google what cisgender means and I’m still not sure I understand.
What I find interesting about this whole thing is, what kind of effect has Howard’s private life has had on his playing career? It seems like forever ago that Howard was thought to be a once-in-a-generation talent. This guy was the Defensive Player of the Year for three consecutive years and took the freaking Orlando Magic to The Finals! Howard was a defensive beast and posted roughly 20 points, 15 rebounds, and 3 blocks per game in his last season in Orlando.
The Magic traded Howard to the Lakers in 2012 and his career was never the same. In what should have been a dream pairing, he clashed badly with Kobe Bryant and never flourished in L.A. Howard headed to Houston after just one season with the Lakers. He has since played for FOUR OTHER TEAMS, for one season each!
What happened? Has Howard kept moving from city to city in order to limit the chances of him being outed or exposed? Did Kobe know what was up all those years ago in L.A.? Has the emotional weight of this secret crippled Howard’s play on the court? I have so many questions! Mostly because I’ve always been curious how a player that was that great and dominant in Orlando, became just another “good” NBA center.
This is just another reminder that we really don’t know these people. From MJ’s massive gambling habits to Tiger’s serial womanizing, we have no idea what these guys are doing off the playing field. It kind of makes you appreciate Charles Barkley’s honesty years ago when he came out and said, “I am not a role model.”
The Giving of Thanks & The Not Giving of Fucks
Of course, last week was Thanksgiving, which means the holidays are upon us. Is there a more stressful time of the year? It’s crunch time fellas. Remember when you used to look forward to the holidays? Nowadays it’s just an impending sense of absolute dread.
We went to my wife’s sister’s house for Thanksgiving this year. It’s about a three-hour drive. Traffic was, of course, ridiculous. So we get there and everything is great. We have a six-year old daughter and my wife has two sisters that also both have small children, so it really is cool when they all can get together and play. We eat, turn on the football game, the kids are having an amazing time, and then…I hear those fateful words from one of the women… “So, what are we gonna do about Christmas?” The mood immediately changes on a dime. My wife, her mom, and sisters all instantly morph into fucking high-priced litigators. Everyone has an idea about what should happen for Christmas, but we never know what will happen for Christmas until roughly 11:42pm on December 23rd. I used to chime in with my thoughts, but I’ve evolved into knowing better and not giving a fuck. I’ve accepted the situation and try to make the best of it. I try to keep my cool, but I always know deep-down inside that I have a Christmas Vacation-level holiday meltdown coming.