March Sports Update
I'm just going to combine NFL and NCAAF together from now on since there isn't anything too big going on in either sport right now.
Super Bowl: The Eagles did it. They were underdogs in their last three games and won all of them, but their most impressive win, of course, was against the Patriots. Nick Foles played to win, and even tried his hand at receiving on a 4th-and-goal play to end the first half, which gave Philadelphia a 22-12 lead. But everyone knows not to count Tom Brady out, and he put on a show, with 505 yards passing and 3 touchdowns. But the Patriot defense ultimately lost the the game, allowing Nick Foles to pass for 373 yards and 3 touchdowns and giving up 164 yards to the running back duo of LeGarrette Blount and Jay Ajayi.
Quick Off-season Recap
- Alex Smith traded to Redskins
- Kirk Cousins is looking for a job
- AJ McCarron wins grievance against the Bengals and is an unrestricted free agent
- Case Keenum is not franchise-tagged by the Vikings, putting him on the market and Minnesota in the hunt for a QB
- Derrick Johnson is not re-signed by Chiefs
- Chiefs trade Marcus Peters for some reason
- Raiders aren’t re-signing Sebastian Janikowski
- Jarvis Landry is franchise-tagged by Dolphins but may be traded
- Larry Fitzgerald did not retire
Since I’m finishing this piece at an awkward time shortly after the NFL combine, I’ll hold off on doing a mock draft until next month. Instead, I’ll do an opinion piece similar to my defense of Blake Bortles.
How to (maybe) Fix the Cleveland Browns
Oh Cleveland, your last real playoff run was in 1992, and the two top men in the franchise were Bill Belichick and Nick Saban--you let both of them go on to win many championships in pro and college football, respectively. I won’t even try to talk about what led to the Browns’ downfall, (although it was probably the move to Baltimore). Instead, I’ll suggest a few ways that they could turn the franchise around.
1. QB in free agency
There are a few quarterbacks available on the free agent market, most notably Kirk Cousins, whose addition to the team would be enough to win at least a game or two. But if the Browns are unable to land Cousins, AJ McCarron, who played under Hue Jackson in Cincinnati, is available. Case Keenum, Sam Bradford, and Teddy Bridgewater are all available, too. With the quarterback position taken care of, Cleveland can turn to the draft to get a few more offensive playmakers. They could possibly take Saquon Barkley with the No. 1 overall pick, but I think they should trade that pick for a later-first round pick and an early second-round pick. With the fourth overall pick, they should focus on drafting a young player who can bring leadership and help establish a winning culture in the locker room. Minkah Fitzpatrick would be a good fit: he can play safety or corner very well and has experience leading a winning team. With their later first-round pick, the Browns should prioritize a wide receiver like Calvin Ridley or SMU’s Courtland Sutton, both of whom would provide a spark to any offense. With the second-round pick, I think that a running back like San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny would be a steal. Alternatively, the Browns could wait to draft someone like Ronald Jones, Nick Chubb, or Bo Scarbrough.
2. QB in the draft
Say that Cleveland decides to go with a rookie at quarterback after missing out on Deshaun Watson in last year’s draft. This is how I think it would play out. Although a Heisman Trophy–
winner like Baker Mayfield might be appealing, I think Cleveland needs to draft a player who does not have possible off-the-field issues. As far as I can tell, Josh Allen has never been arrested for a DUI or anything like that; he grew up on a farm in California and put in a lot of hard work to get to where he is. His character makes him more appealing than Baker Mayfield, who strikes me as Johnny Manziel 2.0. If Cleveland drafts a quarterback, I still think they should draft Minkah fourth, then prioritize a wide receiver in the second round, and maybe throw some free agency dollars at a running back like . . .
3. RB in free agency or trade
Le'veon Bell to Cleveland is less likely than the Browns getting Trent Richardson back from the CFL, so I’m going to ignore that possibility for now. But there are some other running backs the Browns could go after: Dion Lewis, Carlos Hyde or they could just resign Isaiah Crowell. Another possibility would be to trade for a running back on a team such as Seattle that had a dumpster-fire of a run game last season even though they had a stable of young and talented running backs (Thomas Rawls, a healthy and fit Eddie Lacy, and C.J. Prosise).
These are just some of the ways that that the Cleveland Browns could recover from their imperfect season.
The Cavaliers traded half of their team for younger, faster guys; now they’re winning games again, including a 22-point victory over the Celtics. So you can still count on Warriors–Cavaliers IV.
The Warriors are still the team to beat in the NBA. The Thunder beat them twice, but were routed in their third meeting. Oh, and Zaza Pachulia is the NBA’s version of Vontaze Burfict; also, Draymond Green still likes to get technical fouls.
The not-really-well-hidden secret that colleges pay players to go to their school is now out—with the worst offender (that we know of) being Arizona, which offered DeAndre Ayton $100K dollars to go to the university. If the NCAA were consistent, then “death penalties” would be handed out to some of these programs. But they won’t. Anyway, Virginia is now the No. 1 team in college basketball; conference tournaments are now underway, so our next issue will cover all things March Madness.
- Josh Ragsdale '18