Sidelines: Browns’ offseason woes and The Streaking Hawks

Sidelines: Browns’ offseason woes and The Streaking Hawks

Matthew Barrett

Josh_Gordon_2014_Browns_training_camp_(3)
Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia.org

Matt Barrett ‘17  and Brian O’Neill ‘16

Collaborative Writers

With the off field controversy, should the Browns keep Johnny Manziel and Josh Gordon?

M.B:If the Cleveland Browns are smart, then they would release Josh Gordon and hold on to Johnny Manziel for now. Josh Gordon is not essential to Cleveland’s offense, as shown last year.  The Browns primarily relied on the run, especially in the second half of the year.  Running backs Isaiah Crowell and Terrence West were able to play together efficiently, despite both being similar types of runners. Also, the key to Cleveland’s 7-9 season was their defense.  The defense ranked ninth in the league in points allowed per game, allowing 21.1 points.

After returning from a ten game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, Gordon only had 24 catches for 303 yards.  Granted, Gordon had Brain Hoyer throwing him the football, who ranked 31stin the league in passer rating. Although Gordon appeared to be one of the best wide receivers in the league two years ago, I question how much he wants to be a part of the Browns organization and NFL, for that matter.  Gordon was handed a ten game suspension this past season and then failed another drug test this past week, earning him a one-year ban from the league. Gordon already got his second chance and he blew it. The Browns should either look to draft Sammie Coates of Clemson with the 19th pick in April’s draft or try to trade up to get Amari Cooper.

As for Johnny Manziel, the Browns should hold on to him for now. The Browns wasted their 22nd overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft.  The Texas A&M star was once projected to be the number one overall pick, but saw his draft stock overshadowed by quarterback Blake Bortles.  Manziel has many talents, but still must develop at the NFL level. If Manziel can get his off-field issues fixed and his head focused on becoming a better quarterback, then the Browns should give their quarterback one more shot at stardom.

B.O:Both players are young talents destined for a future in the NFL. It seems clear what the Browns plan to do in this situation.  Release Josh Gordon, but hold on to Johnny Manziel.

The reason for Manziel is for the PR that he will bring to the team.The whole country can get behind “Johnny Football”—he is a man with so much raw talent, but simply can’t get enough of the night scene.  He has found a way to move past that, however, and better himself (Manziel recently entered a lifestyle rehab facility).

Gordon is stuck in an entirely different situation. He’s struggled with substance abuse in the past and has always managed to get caught.People don’t sympathize with getting caught, and neither will the Browns. Expect to see Manziel to be the rehabilitated hero on the roster this summer, and Josh Gordon looking for another job that might just never come.

 

The Hawks have the most wins in the NBA, but are they really the best team in the league?

M.B:In a tight race to be best team in the NBA, the Atlanta Hawks hold the top spot. Atlanta has lost just three games since November 28, bringing their overall record to 41-9. The Hawks rank third in the NBA in points per game with 103.3.  The Hawks are also efficient shooting from the floor; they are shooting 47.2 percent from the field.

It helps to have Kyle Korver on the team, a veteran three point specialist who is shooting 54 percent from downtown, the best of his career [the Hawks rank first in team three-point percentage].  The Hawks also have five players that averaged double figure in scoring each night, including Korver, DeMarre Carroll, Al Horford, Jeff Teague, and Paul Milsap.

The real X factor for the Hawks has been first year head coach Mike Budenholzer. A disciple of Greg Popovich [head coach of the San Antonio Spurs], Budenholzer has been able to instill the values in the Hawks that the Spurs have used to win five championships since 1999. The Hawks have been called the “Spurs of the east” in recent weeks and I completely agree.

The Hawks ranks third in the league in points allowed per game with 96.5. With the exception of the 2008 and 2009 Los Angeles Lakers, the eventual NBA champion in the last ten seasons ranked in the top ten in points allowed per game in the regular season. Specifically, when Budenholzer was an assistant for the Spurs in 2005 and 2007, the San Antonio defense ranked first [Spurs won championship both years].

The Hawks are the second best team in the league in assists per game with 25.9. The Hawks ball movement makes them difficult to defend and opens up their shooters on the floor. Last year the Spurs, who ranked first in the league in assists per game, proved that they were difficult to defend in the NBA Finals against the Miami Heat.

Anyone who thinks that a team needs a superstar to win a championship is wrong. The Spurs have won too many times without a superstar for anyone to argue that a superstar is essential to a championship team. The Detroit Pistons even won in 2004 without any real superstar. And for the haters that think the Warriors are a better basketball team, tune in Friday night to find out when Atlanta faces off against Golden State.

B.O:It’s no surprise to see the Hawks executing and playing so well and consistent with their weapons.  Kyle Korver is averaging over 13 points per game with a shooting percentage from the field of over 50 percent. A threat like this makes it impossible to defend the lane, as help-defense would mean leaving Korver wide open on the wing to do what he does best.

Of course there’s much more to it than that, but unless teams can find a way to curb the consistency of this prolific offense that averages around 103 points per game, the sky is the limit for the Hawks. Right now, they are the best team in the NBA. But as we all know, what happens during the regular season for a team without star power can end up having a disappointingly minute effect on their ability to win championships.

Evidence of recent years would suggest that winning an NBA championship requires much more than just offensive and defensive consistency. With LeBron James and the Cavaliers pulling their season together recently and with the Western conference more competitive than the East, the Hawks could find themselves in trouble once the playoffs roll around. For now, I expect the Hawks to move onward and upward as they have all season and their record would suggest they are currently the best team in the NBA.