Twenty-nine coaches are on the Cleveland Browns payroll. For the most part – until there is some stability in the organization – their jobs are dependent on the success of the team year-by-year. The fate of almost each coach depends on the success of the quarterback.
Late in the fourth quarter of the Oct. 11 game, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott went down with an ankle injury that may end his season. The Cowboys went on to win the game with former Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton under center, but they aren’t going anywhere without Prescott in the lineup. Minutes later, Browns fans covered their eyes as they saw quarterback Baker Mayfield, held his ribs with an apparent injury. All of the excitement the team had generated up to that point would have been lost had Mayfield not been able to return. He did, and the Browns went on to finish the game with a win against Indianapolis.
The standings show three of the best teams in the AFC are in the North. Mayfield is showing he belongs in the top third of the NFL’s quarterbacks. Ben Roethlisberger continues to be at the top of his game for Pittsburgh and Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson is the defending MVP in the league. I’m holding off judgment of Joe Burrow of Cincinnati, who just came off his worst game of the year because his surrounding cast appears to have trouble keeping him safe in the pocket.
The Browns are 4-1 and have the chance to become the best since returning to the NFL in 1999. But without a healthy quarterback, they aren’t going anywhere. The division is the deepest in the league, and the Browns will play a meaningful game at this point of the season at Pittsburgh on Oct. 18.
Look for Myles Garrett to continue his dominant season, which could lead to defensive player of the year status. Cincinnati, on the other hand, will be on the outside looking in as long as the other starting quarterbacks stay healthy. If Cincinnati doesn’t find a way to protect Burrow, Browns fans will always remember when a similar situation existed when Tim Couch was their quarterback.
Buckeyes on an early roll
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, which has changed the face of sports, Cleveland has had a pretty good year, making the playoffs in baseball while looking like they will do the same in football. Looking at the remaining schedule, as I said last week, 10 wins is not unlikely for the Browns.
In Columbus, The Ohio State Buckeyes have already moved into the sixth spot in the AP Top 25 college football poll without playing a game. Watch for quarterback Justin Fields to have a monster season against Big Ten opponents.
Baseball loses giants
To me, the 1960s and 1970s were the golden age of baseball. This year has sent shock waves to those who love that era as we have lost an incredible number of players in the last two months.
Word came earlier this week that Joe Morgan, one of the catalysts of the Cincinnati “Big Red Machine” had passed away. The second baseman joined other Hall of Famers who passed away recently including St. Louis teammates Bob Gibson and Lou Brock.
Earlier, we learned of the passing of the great New York Mets pitcher Tom Seaver. Also this year, Detroit Tigers great Al Kaline passed away. Previously, the game lost Don Larsen, the only pitcher to throw a perfect game in a World Series.
James wins fourth crown
Many people I talked to were having trouble deciding to root for or against LeBron James in his quest for another NBA title. The consensus was to root for James to win a fourth title with his third team. When he helped the Cleveland Cavaliers bring a title to Northeast Ohio in 2016, much of the pain went away and it will keep the LeBron James-Michael Jordan argument alive.
As expected, James won another championship with a 106-93 rout of the Miami Heat on Oct. 18, to win the series four games to two. Ironically, as most remember, James won two titles with the Heat before returning to Cleveland.