CLEVELAND — A quarter of the NFL’s 32 teams are in head coach search mode.
This would normally be good cause for a sarcastic “We’re No. 8” chant around here.
No more. Not even close.
What recommended the Browns job in the past was too often the faithful fan base and not much more.
A great and thirsty football town but what else?
The future ex head coach would win the press conference by telling some heartfelt story of an uncle or somebody who grew up loving the Browns.
Now there’s actual reasons why this job is the most attractive in the NFL.
Quarterback. Check. Baker Mayfield.
Salary cap room. About $85 million.
Front office. Yep. That, too.
And some fearful fans still want John Dorsey to call off the search and reward Gregg Williams and offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens for a job well done.
But it's also a job half done.
Going 5-3 after a 2-5-1 start was heavy lifting. But the heaviest — contention, dominance in the division, Super Bowl caliber play — is still to come.
John Dorsey’s demerits are few on his Cleveland report card. A third-round pick for Tyrod Taylor?
But if anyone in this town has deserved the benefit of the doubt, it should be Dorsey.
This search isn’t about Dorsey having an itchy trigger finger after having to wait and watch Hue Jackson return as head coach after 1-31.
It’s about Dorsey knowing he’s on the cusp of turning around a franchise for a good long run of excellence and recognizing head coach/quarterback as No. 1 and 1A in almost every NFL success story.
So it’s one down, one to go.
And the search should be as exhaustive as the scouting of college quarterbacks was a year ago.
The job is that good.
The moment is that big.
- So LeBron James believes the Cavs Finals win over the Golden State Warriors earned him the “Greatest of All Time” title that, of course, is not a title at all and will always be subject to debate.
But other than that, I’m not surprised someone who got a “Chosen 1” tattoo and a “KNG OF OH” vanity plate wouldn’t shy from declaring the discussion over.
James also shouldn’t be surprised there was some blowback. Chauncey Billups said he might give him that title if James, not Kyrie Irving, hit the shot that beat the Warriors.
Seems unfair to parse all-time status to one shot.
But Celtics president Danny Ainge did James one worse.
“His career is not over," Ainge said, via The Sports Hub. "Maybe he's taking the Donald Trump approach and trying to sell himself. I don't know.”
Ainge does know, based on James political commentary, that the surest way to slam him is making that comparison.
- Coaching Search, Part II:
The Browns interviewed former Colts and Lions head coach Jim Caldwell, whose career record is 62-50.
I don’t know where Caldwell stands on the Browns wish list. One reason is he’ll turn 64 in two weeks.
Youth might not be a hard-and-fast requirement in the next head coach, maybe just more a preference as the Browns look for someone to grow with Mayfield and someone who can match the coaching longevity long enjoyed by the rest of the AFC North.
Caldwell's 62 wins is one more win than the combined victories of Hue Jackson, Mike Pettine, Rob Chudzinski, Pat Shurmur, Eric Mangini, Romeo Crennel and Terry Robiskie in Cleveland.
I feel bad putting Crennel in there.
At 24-40 as Browns head coach, he’s the Paul Brown of the group.
- Crennel and Butch Davis (24-35) are tied for most wins by a Browns head coach since 1999.
Cue up Springsteen’s “Glory Days.”
- Via ESPN, Wednesday marked the 19th anniversary of Bill Belichick accepting the job as head coach of the New York Jets.
That means today, Jan. 4, marks the 19th anniversary of Belichick resigning as head coach of the New York Jets.
He wrote his resignation letter on a napkin, saying he was quitting as “HC of the NYJ.”
He cited changing dynamics in the ownership group that left him uncomfortable.
“I don’t have any regrets,” Belichick said back in 2011.
Knowing Belichick, he probably regrets being so long-winded.
- By the way, for as disastrous as Belichick’s time in Cleveland seemed for various reasons including the cutting of Bernie Kosar, he still went 36-44 and won a playoff game.
Yep. In retrospect, almost statue worthy.
- Mike Tomlin has alluded to “change” coming in Pittsburgh. Or what Browns fans know as every season since 1999.
- Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown ended the season where teammate Le’Veon Bell began it: estranged from the organization.
In between the Steelers started 7-2-1 and then finished out of the playoffs. With Ben Roethlisberger using his radio show to criticize teammates, “dysfunction” is the word being applied to Pittsburgh.
For a change.
- The Steelers rooted for the Browns in the final game of the season, needing a Cleveland win in Baltimore to reach the playoffs.
Browns fans want to return the favor by rooting for the Steelers to replace Antonio Brown with Dwayne Bowe.
- The Cavs had a season-low 22 rebounds against Miami Wednesday. On the night Tristan Thompson returned to the lineup that’s not easy to do. And they didn’t break a sweat pulling it off.
- James Harden on James Harden:
“I received a lot of hate. It won’t stop me from going out there and killing every single night being that dog that I am.”
Right about here, I’d normally think to add “if he must say so himself.”
But Harden doesn’t have to sing his own praises.
Golden State’s Steve Kerr says Harden has changed the game much like Allen Iverson did. With Iverson, it was how he broke ankles with his dribble. Players copied that as best they could.
Harden’s unstoppable offensive production includes drawing fouls. Lots of fouls.
"It takes somebody really unique and special to literally change the way the whole league is playing and the way they look at the game and James has done that with his ability to draw contact and get to the line,” Kerr told reporters Thursday.
“If you think you can reach in there and get the ball from him, you are crazy. You are not going to do it. You are just going to foul him."
They’re mostly legitimate fouls, too. Not that anyone in the NBA has ever acknowledged legitimately fouling anyone else.
- Harden hit the game-winning three in OT Thursday to beat the Warriors, 135-134. He had 44 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds, and a few choice words for Draymond Green after a game the Warriors once led by 20 at home.
I know how you people hate to see Green get disrespected but that’s just part of the competitive nature of basketball.
- Gordon Hayward scored 35 off the bench for the Celtics in a recent game. Meaning it might be safe to watch Hayward play again without cringing at the memory of his horrific injury on opening night at the Q two years ago.
But I still don’t have the stomach for it.
Or for watching NFL refs.
But that’s for another reason.
- After shooting himself out of a slump with another three-pointer against Portland in a recent game, the Warriors Klay Thompson was captured on camera telling his right hand, “I missed you.”
Does Collin Sexton have a passing hand? Asking for some friends at The Q.
- Brian Kelly said after Notre Dame’s lopsided loss to Clemson that the disparity between the two teams was “not overwhelming.”
Just clear I guess.
- NFL Network reported Giants receiver Jawill Davis dislocated his knee cap.
While dancing in the locker room.
The small odds that a player would get injured dancing on a team that finished 5-11 were offset by the odds saying that player would almost certainly be a wide receiver.
- No one was injured in the making of the Browns 0-16 season a year ago, at least in a locker room dance.
- So there was that.