Welcome to my world.....

Friday, September 27, 2013

Cheat Sheet: #4 OSU vs #23 Wisconsin

Here's my thought... we ALL know what the Buckeyes have this year.  We may not be able to tell quite yet how good they actually are, but we are familiar with our team.  As Big Ten Conference play starts, I thought that maybe people who don't spend as much time as I do looking at the other teams in the B1G might want a quick reference guide - Cheat Sheet if you will - for the opposition each week.

So today marks the beginning of my Friday Cheat Sheets - a look at the upcoming opponent, what they bring to the field, what players could give OSU trouble. This way, you'll know what names to watch for on Saturday and what parts of the game could cause the Buckeyes some problems.  Hope this helps your enjoyment of another OSU victory.  O-H!

Wisconsin Badgers (3-0)
The Badgers come to Columbus this Saturday for a 7:00 pm kickoff having spanked Purdue 41-10 last week. They have a very good offense, scoring 45, 48, 30, and 41 in games so far this season. Their only loss was in week 3 to Arizona State 32-30 and if not for a bad call, they would be 4-0.  With the decline of the Michigan Wolverine football program in recent years, Wisconsin has become a fierce rival for the Buckeyes, with 15 of the last 28 games being decided by 7 point or less!

#25 RB Melvin Gordon carries the load for their offense. They've always tended to be a power running team - remember Montee Ball? - and this year is no different. They rank 3rd nationally with an average
approaching 350 rushing yards per game. Gordon's got help from guys like #20 James White and #6 Corey Clement, but Gordon is the real threat. He's got 624 yards through four games, an average of 11.8 yards-per-carry. YIKES!

Defense - last year, the Wisconsin defense kept Braxton Miller contained and it took over-time for the Buckeyes to finally come out on top. This year, the Badger Defense is just as good - if not better - but then so it Braxton. The Buckeyes will need every bit of their passing game to win this week because the Badgers are going to be constantly putting pressure on Brax, stopping him from running the ball, and force him to beat them in the air.

QB Joel Stave has struggled this year. The O-Line has only given up 3 sacks this season so there's no obvious reason. Perhaps it's his willingness to rely on a terrific run game, and why not? This week may be the answer to that question - if the Buckeyes can keep Gordon from getting 100 yards, Stave will be forced to take to the air.... If that happens, I'm not too worried.

Head Coach Gary Anderson.  Well, we all know that Bret Bielema is gone and I'm pretty sure none of us miss him. But Coach Anderson has brought the same intensity, desire to win, focus on power-run and defense that we expect from Wisconsin.  He just bring it in a much nicer package. He's also got ties to the Buckeyes as he was Coach Urban Meyer's defensive coordinator back in 2004 at Utah during their undefeated season. They remain friends, although family and football commitments make it hard to talk as often as they'd like.  My guess is that the desire to beat someone who could be described as his mentor will make Anderson pull out all this stops this weekend.

Now, with all that being said, the Buckeyes should have the edge in the passing game, passing defense, and QB play. This is their first real test, an opponent who isn't a push-over. If they can stop the run then we'll all be breathing a lot easier during the game Saturday night!

Respectfully Submitted,

Cleveland Kate

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Coming to grips with the TRich trade....

On my journey through the 5 Stages of Browns Fans Grief, I've entered into the Acceptance Phase. It's only been a week, but after some deep thought, and quite a bit of research, I've finally accepted that perhaps this trade wasn't the end-of-the-football-world that I thought it was 8 days ago. I shall explain....

First, trading away a RB that was touted as one of the Browns best offensive weapons didn't leave the team weaponless.  WR Josh Gordon is back and performing as amazingly as promised. The Browns won their first game of the season vs the Minnesota Vikings and did it by passing 54 times vs 15 rush attempts. It

looked a lot like the first two games in that regard, way more passing than rushing plays.  While I understand the desire to have a vertical passing game, and the belief that the NFL itself is a passing league, I am left being a bit concerned about what November and December will look like in the AFC North.... we'll need a run game by then for sure.  The reality is that the front office and coaching staff WANT this to be a passing team so for now, that's what they are.

Second, justifying the trade by saying we need a Franchise QB is a little confusing to me. How does an additional first round draft pick do that? If you look at the likely teams that will be ahead of the Browns on Draft Day based on record, the most likely teams will be Jacksonville, Oakland, Tampa Bay, and the NY Jets. I would argue that at least three of those teams will be targeting a QB so why would they be interested in trading with us?  The more likely scenario is this: having a 2nd first round pick gives the Browns some insurance on WR Josh Gordon. Because of issues with avoiding banned substances, Flash was suspended for the first two weeks this year. That means his next strike is a mandatory one-year suspension from the NFL.

While the fans - and I think the Browns - love what Flash brings to the field, his off-the-field issues must be a concern from a business standpoint. Rumors abound about possibly trading him, but I think that is doubtful this early in the season. Especially since the entire NFL knows he's on his last strike - what are you going to get for him? The risk to another team is the same as yours so I have to think that minimizes his value. (Yeah, the Trent trade should have been insane to consider after two weeks but I just don't see a good
way to spin trading JGordon too).  After week 10, who knows? But for now, you've got a great player, someone who is a game-changer... and a 2nd first round pick to get a WR if you think he will have issues.

The Browns have a new regime looking to build the team THEY want, they trade a RB who doesn't fit into their plans and also get an insurance policy about a WR who DOES fit their model but has some risk to him. Are you with me so far?  That just leaves me with the hardest question I had to answer... Do I trust the new regime? Do I believe they will get the QB "right" in the 2014 draft? I just don't know.

What I do know is that in 2011, we were told to have patience, to stay with the team through a terrible season to get a high draft pick. And we all know how that ended.... couldn't get the deal done for RG3 so we
moved up one spot and got RB Trent Richardson. And the fans went crazy. Everyone told us what a stud he would be, how we now had our RB locked up for the next 10 years, that we could now compete on the ground with Baltimore and Pittsburgh. And we believed it.  Now it's 2013 and we're being told that those guys were all wrong, that you shouldn't ever take a RB in the first round, that the new guys are the smartest guys in the room, that we should stay with the team through a terrible season to get a high draft pick.  Sound familiar?  And people ask why we are skeptical....

Well, I'm starting to believe for two reasons:

  1. The coaches and players showed last week that they still had the drive and desire to win, that THEY had not given up on the season so neither should we. By throwing out the playbook and tossing in some trick plays they made everyone rethink the idea that they were going to tank the season. And I have to respect that. 
  2. This ain't my daddy's NFL. Or mine either for that matter. I am finally coming around to the idea that RB are indeed interchangeable. The days of having to have that special guy in the backfield are gone. If you look at the last five years of NFL stats, we've had a different rushing leader each year. Teams find guys who have a breakout year and then disappear - see Peyton Hillis. Which makes me draw the conclusion that it's the Offensive Line that matters, not the skill of the Running Back.  Yes, an explosive, talented running back can make a huge difference to a team, but if you have a solid O-Line that gives up very few sack or negative yardage plays, that knows how to create a hole for the runner, almost anyone can be good.  You don't need to pick up a guy in the first round when third or sixth round options can work.

I know it sounds crazy, and it's still hard for me to really believe, but the numbers don't lie.  Adrian Peterson is more like MLB's Mariano Rivera - there are one or two truly special guys out there and every other team makes the most of someone who's better than average.  I think this kind of RB is even more rare than the Franchise QB that we all want.

It's entirely possible that my bias - and that of everyone else I know -stems from the evil game of Fantasy Football and the importance of a good RB.  BUT when you look at the real NFL, rushing yards and passing yards are exactly the same.  There really isn't anything special about rushing and, in fact, the long-bomb pass play has more value because you have a limited time clock to work with and a scoring drive done by passing takes less time off the clock than running the ball.  Fact.

By the time winter weather descends upon us, I hope the Browns have a couple rushing options - the Hard-pounding Back who slams the line and breaks through for 4 yards a carry while five guys try to bring him down, and the Finesse Guy who slips through the hole before you know he's there like a greased pig at the county fair and you just can't get him to stop. And part of that dream depends on Dion Lewis returning after Thanksgiving from his injury so maybe it won't happen this year.... but the days of a single game-changing back are coming to an end. We can discuss the reasons for that at another time (I blame the moms out there who raise their boys to be flashy players like QBs or WR/TEs but I digress)....

Let's just say for now that I've come to grips with the Trent Richardson trade.  I wish him nothing but luck in the future. And while it saddens me to think that the last 2-3 years were wasted by guys who just didn't do the right things for my football team, I am really trying to find positive things to give me hope for the future. I believe that sometimes you have to take one step backwards before you can take two steps forward, it's just that sometime that backwards step is hard to understand and even harder to live through.

Respectfully Submitted,
Cleveland Kate

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Fantasy Studs 'N Duds - Week 3

Each Tuesday, I will give you any injury news I can find that may affect your FFL team. And I'll tell you who I think are the Studs 'N Duds. Two things to remember:  positions are QB RB WR & TE. I'm not bothering with Kickers or Defenses. Deal with it. As for the math, using a basic FFL scoring system that includes PPR, I'll tell you who really over shot their projected points and who really blew it. These are not necessarily the "hot" names in the NFL, but they are guys who the experts didn't expect to play this way and it could be a trend worth watching for both owners and waiver wire pickups.

I went a brilliant 5-0 this week thanks to last minute performances from Darren McFadden and a quick game-day decision to drop Malcolm Floyd and pick up Nate Burleson. I may live to regret that one but it worked out this week!  

September 19-23, 2013

  • WR Nate Burleson – big news here folks. Not sure of the details but it had to do with a pizza.  Seriously.  Broken his arm.
  •  WR Jacoby Jones – injured by a stripper on his party bus. I can’t make this stuff up. Got himself hit in the head with a bottle of something called “Ace of Spades.” No idea if this head injury will keep him off the field but still...
  •  WR Larry Fitzgerald and RB Rashard Mendenhall – both were back in action this week but frankly, they should have stayed hurt a little longer. No point rushing back and they playing pitifully.  Just saying...


  • +28 Antonio Brown, WR Pittsburgh – finally made the big splash we expected. Even though the Steelers are 0-3 (snicker), Ben has to throw to someone and AB was his favorite target this week.  If TE Heath Miller gets back to 100% that could change, but for now he’s a smart play.
  • +22 Josh Gordon, WR Cleveland – frankly, no one knew what to project for Flash with his return from a two-game suspension and 3rd string QB Brian Hoyer getting the start. Well – I guess 10 receptions for 168 yards and a TD just shows that Flash came back ready to play!
  • +21 Santonio Holmes, WR New York Jets – Look who’s back! Santonio hasn’t made much of a splash recently but it looks like he and Geno Smith be become buddies yet – 5 receptions for 154 yards and a TD… nice deep threat for the J-E-T-S!
  • +20 Jordan Cameron, TE Cleveland – yes, you read that right, TWO Browns players made my Studs list. And I’m not just being a homer here. JC had 66 yards and 3 TDs - gotta love it when the Punter fakes a kick and throws to you!
  • +20 Jimmy Graham – TE New Orleans – Drew Brees is back in top notch form and found his TE this week for 134 yards and 2 TDs.
  • Other notable improvements: Denarius Moore WR Oakland, Sidney Rice WR Seattle, Eric Decker WR Denver and Ahmad Bradshaw RB Indianapolis. All of these guys have had fantasy owners scratching their heads but looks like there are back in the game.
  • Final note:  Jake Locker who has been a mess this season kicked it up a notch and gained 15 points over projection this week.  While I don’t know anyone who is starting him each week, he may prove a capable bye week replacement. 

  • -14 Colin Kaepernick – QB San Francisco – Have the wheels fallen off the Magic Kaep Bus? Who knows – but their performance this week against a so-so defense leaves much to be desired. Don’t look to drop or trade Colin yet, but I’d keep an eye on him if I were you. Defenses will eventually find a way to stop everyone, but it’s up to the 49ers OC to find a way for Colin to succeed.
  • -14 Eli Manning – QB New York Giants – Oh, man. People, me included, were making jokes about Eli this week and, as a good friend pointed out, it really isn’t fair. Eli may not be lighting it up like big brother Peyton, but he’s still a great QB. It’s just that he’s playing on a bad team this year. That offensive line is a mess. If they can’t get this fixed asap, you’ll have to drop Eli like a bad habit. Sorry, but even he can’t protect himself.
  • -12 CJ Spillar – RB Buffalo – injury knocked him out of the game this week and I’m still looking for an update on his status. Don’t drop or trade him yet, just sit tight and be disappointed… like I am.
  • -11 Hakeem Nicks – WR New York Giants – as Eli goes, so goes Hakeem. OLine troubles causing Eli to be under pressure, get sacked six times, etc., make it hard to get the ball to a receiver let alone have any kind of deep threat option.  Give him some time and we’ll see if they can get the offense turned around… but not too much. The trick is to know when to pull the trigger. I’d say week 7. 
  • -11 Dwayne Bowe – WR Kansas City – for a team that’s doing as well as the Chiefs, you’d think their #1 WR would be having a better season… yeah, not so much. Perhaps the phenomenon that is Bowe has finally ended….
  • Other notable crappy performances: -11 Marshawn Lynch RB Seattle (I mean really? You kicked the crap outta Jax and couldn’t run the ball?), -9 Chris Ivory WR NYJ (anyone seen Chris? Anyone? Bueller?), -9 Arian Foster RB Houston (they were just a hot mess vs the Ravens this week. Arian went too high in too many drafts for fantasy owners to be very happy right now – meaning if you think he’s done, start dangling him as trade bait now. Some sap will grab him up), -9 Lance Moore WR New Orleans (too many options for Drew Brees. Maybe Lance needs to take him out to dinner and a move, make nice, you know.)

That's it for me this week.... feel free to send me questions via twitter @ClvlndK8!

Respectfully Submitted,
Cleveland Kate

Browns vs Vikings - wrap up

Browns 31     Vikings 27

It’s a beautiful Victory Monday here in Cleveland… the alarm clock wasn’t quite as irritating at 0600, my coffee tastes yummier, the traffic was not so bad… it’s all relative in a town where wins have been few but fans still find reasons to believe. And today, fans will continue celebrating the first win of the season by the Browns. After an incredibly crazy week of roster activity, we desperately needed a win to boost both team and fan morale.

With the injury to Brandon Weeden’s thumb near the end of the Ravens game last week, Wednesday morning bought the announcement that 3rd string QB Hoyer would get the start. Huh? What happened to Jason Campbell?  But before the fans got too worked up about that, the trade of RB Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts was announced and we all forgot about who should be starting at QB.

I did not take the news of the trade very well (understatement of the year).  I vented my frustration in a very public way on Wednesday night and it wasn’t very nice or classy.  I’m not proud of my failure to control my emotions when I heard the news, but I’m passionate about my team and I can’t apologize for that.  I’ve had time to calm down, I’ve received a lot of “hugs” from friends on Twitter and here at NFLFemale.com, and oh yeah, we WON yesterday!  Winning really does make things a little better!

Check out this link to www.nflfemale.com for the rest of my article:  Kate’s 5 Takes

Respectfully Submitted,
Cleveland Kate

Sunday, September 22, 2013

What OSU Bias? You're crazy!

It never ceases to amaze me how everything that happens at the Ohio State University regarding it's football program makes front page news (internet headlines for you youngsters) and other programs seem to just slide under the radar.  I used to think I was being paranoid. I mean really, why would the national sports media have it in for tOSU?  Makes no sense, right?  Surely this is just a side-effect of my Cleveland fandom. We know they take delight in mocking Browns, Indians, and Cavalier fans every chance they get by bringing up all of the truly sad moments of our history...  And the fact that the vast majority of Cleveland sports fans are also Ohio State fans, well that's just because we love our state and maybe a little because it's nice to like ONE winning team....  but that changed a bit for me yesterday.

I'm quite the sports savvy chick.  I watch sports coverage on TV, read about it on the internet, talk sports on the radio and face book and twitter every single day. But yesterday my friend Heather asked me if I had heard anything about a story involving some University of Michigan players and I was absolutely clueless as to what she was talking about.  My first thought was... this must be old news, something from a few years back while I was wrapped up taking care of my aging father or when I didn't have as much time for sports. (yeah, it happens.  life gets in the way of sports on occasion.)

So I did some google searching and low and behold....  HOLY CRAP!  What is this?  A Michigan player was accused of rape?  And he's still on the team?  And teammates are accused of threatening the girls to keep quiet?  And this was not on every sports TV station and radio broadcast?  Because just the ACCUSATION that Carlos Hyde put his hands on a woman brought everyone out screaming that he be kicked off the team.... (thank god for video tape!).

Well. You are all aware of what goes on at OSU.  But here are four quick links to websites from August of this year - yes, only last month - with information and discussions on this story.  And yet it got by me, the rabid sports chick.  You can read these stories for yourself and come to your own conclusions.

Now, I'm not demanding his head on a plate or anything crazy like that. I'm not even saying he is guilty of criminal activity. And frankly the actions involved happened back in 2009 and 2010. What I'm simply asking is one small question:  WHY WAS THIS NOT HEADLINE NEWS?  Right.  So you can stop telling me that I'm just paranoid that the OSU is held to a different standard than everyone else.  Thanks.

August 8, 2013 Washtenaw Watchdogs:  The Cover-up of the Arrest of University of Michigan Football Player, Brendan Gibbon, for Rape

August 16, 2013 Democratic Underground: Univ of Mich Covers Up Rape by Star Kicker Brendan Gibbons: Teammates Threaten to RAPE Again 

August 18, 2013 Discussion on Detroit Sports Forum 

August 20, 2013 Discussion on Buckeye Sports Bulletin 

And I've also found a few other items of interest..... Vanderbuilt and Navy have faced their own issues with athletes and sexual misconduct. And I didn't see these in the headlines either. Am I missing something?

June 19, 2013 Charges filed against Navy football players accused of sexual assault

August 9, 2013 USA Today Dismissed Vanderbilt football players indicted for rape

Respectfully Submitted,

Cleveland Kate

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The 5 stages of a Browns Fan's Grief

I've had a few hours to digest the  news that the Cleveland Browns have traded Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts for a 2014 first round draft pick. I'm not gonna lie - I lost it yesterday when I heard the news. Lost it. Went insane. Was completely outta control. And to make matters worse, I was at a bar getting ready to go on the internet for my two-hour sports talk show where, I thought, I would be extolling the virtues of an Indians team making a run for the playoffs.  Instead, I found myself standing outside on Ontario Street screaming at the top of my lungs to the heavens "WHY DO YOU HATE US?" I broke every personal rule I have about public behavior, tweeting with class, staying positive. I let my emotions and my passion for football rule the night.  It wasn't pretty and, unfortunately, there is an archive of my rant on www.nostaticradio.com so that it will be around forever. Great.

Now that the morning has arrived, I can't say I am any happier than I was last night. Oh, I'm calmer, but not any happier. I have soooo many questions and problems with the mood that I may run out of "paper" before putting them all down.  But that's not what I want to talk about today. As I reflect on the myriad of emotions that I went through in the past 18 hours, I am reminded of DABDA - the Kubler-Ross model commonly referred to as the "five stages of grief" we know of when discussing death. I think in a very real way our hopes for this football season died last night and I'm going through the stages now. Perhaps you are too and perhaps by looking at each stage, we can help each other through this season...

1. Denial - As I sat in City Tap Cleveland with my friend @TallJohn78, we're checking twitter and chatting when he says "Adam Scheffter just tweeted that the Browns traded TRich to the Colts."  I laughed and said "the fake Adam?" and he laughed, and looked again, and said "I think it's the verified account!"  NOOO! So we both start scanning twitter - looking for anything to confirm or deny. I found a post from @SportCenter saying the same thing. And then I got a text message from @Munchonsports.  No more denial for me.

2. Anger - what I remember most is the people looking at John and I as if we were crazy when we first started yelling. But slowly you could hear the volume in the bar pick up as others saw the same new we did. When Clarence the manager changed the TV station to ESPN and it was splashed up there big as day the entire place erupted.  I couldn't sit still. I was shaking. I walked outside, screamed, scared at least a dozen folks having a drink or a meal outside (sorry, btw), and just kept pacing.  While anyone who dreams of being in the media would love the opportunity ahead of me, I was dreading the fact that I was about to do two hours of live sports talk on the internet.  I just KNEW I was not in control of myself and it was a bad idea. But I did it. Got through it.  I may never listen to the archive because I just don't want to know how angry I was. And I'm still angry today. I may move back and forth into anger quite a bit over the next 15 weeks.

3. Bargaining - today, the media is trying to justify this move, trying to tell all of us why it's a great trade, why we should believe that THIS time is different from 2011, that THIS group of guys will actually get the right player to change our fate. If we can just get through this awful season, still support the team, still give them our money then in return they will get us the Franchise QB that everyone says we need. Time will tell.

4. Depression - Why go to games? Why bother to even play the games? Just tell the NFL we give up, put a white flag outside the stadium, clean out your lockers and go home. Because they've clearly given up on this season. And I DO understand that sometimes you have to get worse to get better, go backwards to go forwards.  I DO understand the need for a great QB. It's trusting this new group to get it right when none of the others before them did that I struggle with. It's looking back at the 2013 draft and all the criticism they took for trading away all of their picks and only coming back with 4 players... In 2011 we were told to trust the regime, they knew what they were doing, and we had a year of awful football that turned into Trent Richardson. Now this new group is basically saying TRich was a mistake, sorry you suffered for nothing, but we are the smartest guys in the room, we know best, trust US to get this right while you suffer through another awful year of football.... And you wonder why I'm depressed?

5. Acceptance - This one will take a while. And frankly, it may not come until after Day 1 of the 2014 NFL draft. Because God forbid we don't get the #1 pick.  Why the top pick you ask?  Because I will accept NO MORE EXCUSES.  If we end up at #2 or #3, that gives them room if it doesn't work out to say, well, we really wanted a different guy but he was gone when it was our turn.  No.  We must be #1. And they must be right. Because that is the only way this fan base can accept what is being done, accept being misled, and find a way to hold on to the passion that makes Browns Fans what they are - a fan base that stays by their team whether they are bad by accident or on purpose.

We'll get through this, Browns Fans.  We always do. And maybe that's the problem, why it's so easy for whomever is in charge to get away with things they couldn't do in other cities.... Because no matter what they do to us, we remain loyal to our team. But really, what other choice to we have?

Respectfully Submitted,

Cleveland Kate

Sunday, September 15, 2013

My Orange Colored Glasses work just fine, thank you.

Today's Browns loss to the Baltimore Ravens was tough.  Tougher than last week's loss because of the history we have with Baltimore, the emotional baggage we carry as fans. And it was tough for someone like me who truly loves the game of football - to watch so many mistakes and missed opportunities.

When played the right way, football is a truly beautiful game. The plays, both offensive and defensive, the emotions, the battle being waged across an invisible line of scrimmage.... Sigh.  I get caught up in it, want to be a part of it, scream and yell and cheer and groan whether I'm listening on the radio, watching TV, or actually at the game. And it's painful when the game is played badly.  Not from a "talent" level but from an "execution" level. I can live with losses that are a result of having lesser talent. But that hasn't happened yet this football season.

My dad taught me that, if you play to the very best of your ability and still lose, there is no shame in that.  If you practice and prepare and do everything you can to get ready and still lose, you should congratulate the victor and take pride in knowing you left it all out there, that there was absolutely nothing else you could have done, that there is always someone better. And that's ok - as long as you are striving to be better yourself. But he also said the shame comes from NOT being your best, from NOT using your God-given talents the way He intended, from NOT being ready and prepared for the game. THAT is cause for shame.  And today, I'm sorry to say, the Browns players should be ashamed.

For the second week in a row, mistakes and penalties cost us the game. We were not beaten by a superior opponent, we beat ourselves. And since I cannot understand or make excuses for that, I choose to focus on the things that DID improve from last week. To find proof that the players care as much as I do, that they worked this week and accomplished something. Because I cannot imagine a single player not giving it his all to get ready for a game. And for this I am slammed on twitter, called "delusional," or "unrealistic."

Well, if I'm "delusional" then I guess so is ESPN....  I'm pretty sure their Top Performers from the game are all Browns players.  Or are my orange colored glasses deceiving me?

Here are some positives I saw today:

  1. Brandon Weeden DID have stats that were very similar - and in some cases better - than Joe Flacco.  The difference was that Flacco had 1 TD but I can point to our receivers dropping balls an inopportune times so I don't blame Brandon.  Did he make mistakes? Yes. But when someone tells me he's crap and we need a new QB right now, I have to disagree. He's improving in a new system and with help from his receivers and the return of Josh Gordon next week, let's see what he can do. 
  2. The Offensive Line improved over last week.  Yes, they gave up 5 sacks but they didn't have the penalties like last week and Brandon wasn't under as much pressure. Are they great? No. We desperately miss Shaun Lauvao and Jason Pinkston. But they did work this week and have improved.
  3. TE Jordan Cameron's performance in Week 1 wasn't a fluke.  He's a really good tight end.  Yes, he can work on his blocking but the good things he did last week he continued to do today.
  4. RB Trent Richardson is another positive thing. He was averaging 3.4 yards per carry when we stopped running the ball today. I expect more from him, but he was effective.
  5. Billy Cundiff put an end to the "I miss Phil Dawson" remarks today.  Yes, I still miss Phil and always will. Being the only player left from the '99 team, he's a link to a very emotional time for me. So perhaps its best for me that he's moved on.  And by making that 51 yard field goal today, Billy got a few  of the "doom and gloom" fans to relax about our kicking game.
  6. Defense - do I even need to tell you how good our defense is?  Run defense held Lamar to 20 yards week one and Ray Rice to 36 yards rushing/9 receiving. Well done!

But here's the thing - everything I said is the truth. I'm not naive or blind to the Browns faults, but I have found, in my 47 years on earth, that I am a much happier person if I focus on the positives first. The negatives must be looked at objectively and a plan created to fix them, but to ignore any good things? I can't live like that.

Here are a few negatives:

  1. Clock management:  how do we get 2 delay of game penalties? What took so long to get the play off? During the preseason, that was something I loved - they were at the line and snapping in 15-18 seconds, not giving the defense time to adjust. And no sense of urgency.  I saw one drive today with a "hustle" feel to it, early in the 1st quarter. After that?  Not so much.
  2. Defense:  the secondary is still an issue. Teams have already figured out that our front 7 is solid and running is going to be difficult but our secondary opposite Joe Haden is weak and that is a point of attack for them.
  3. QB and Receivers: Can we PLEASE catch a ball?  Can Brandon PLEASE figure out when to ZIP it in there and when to FLOAT it on the air? I've got receivers dropping balls that hit them in the hands and don't know if they can't catch or if it was a scorcher.  Brandon needs to develop more "touch" with his passes so that the receivers have no excuses.
  4. Play Calling: I don't know why you draft a running back #3 overall and DON'T let him have the ball! OK so 18 carries and 5 receptions is an improvement over last week but it still feels like the quit on the run game early. It also feels like we throw the ball in desperation in the 4th quarter. Week 1 down by 3, today down by 1. What? Those don't feel like desperate game situations to me. What am I missing?

Now. I am by no means delusional. I see the problems. And most of you do as well. But if you are one of those people who thinks it's ok to berate and swear at players, that it's ok to say "The Browns SUCK!", if you give up on the team before the game even starts or, worse, if you delight in predicting gloom and being right when we lose, then you need to explain one thing to me:  WHY ARE YOU A BROWNS FAN.

Newsflash:  There are 31 other teams in the NFL!  If you have so little regard for the Browns and what they are trying to do, please go be a fan for one of them. REAL Browns fans understand that we have problems, we want answers, and we should be DEMANDING improvement. But we can do all that without being hateful, rude, or obnoxious. Ultimately, it's everyone's decision on how they want to be a fan, how they want to talk about the Browns on twitter, how they want other people to view our team.

PLEASE do not take this blog as an attack.  90% of you are reasonable fans who want change, ask
questions, scream in frustration just like I do.  But we all know the other 10%, the people who go out of their way to point out the bad things, who are defeated before they begin, who are already looking at the draft before we've given this team any time to gel. We knew going into this season that (1) this is not a playoff caliber team and (2) Brandon Weeden isn't a top ten QB. We just hoped for 8-8 and some improvement over last season. We haven't seen it yet. But the season isn't over.

As for me, I choose the Browns to be MY team every day. And I choose to find positives first, then work on solutions for the negatives.  Because honestly, that's the only way I know how to live. And thankfully, I believe that most of you are just like me. Thanks for that! And thanks for letting me vent just a bit.

Respectfully Submitted,

Cleveland Kate

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Fantasy Studs 'N Duds - Week 1

Welcome to Fantasy Football!  If you are like me, this weekend was AWESOME whether you won or lost.
I've got six teams this year, five are head-to-head leagues and one is simply total points. I won 4 of my 5 match-ups and yes, the one I lost was against Peyton Manning.  I'm pretty sure NO ONE beat a team led by Peyton this week.  HA.

Each Tuesday, I will give you any injury news I can find that may affect your FFL team. And I'll tell you who I think are the Studs 'N Duds. Two things to remember:  positions are QB RB WR & TE. I'm not bothering with Kickers or Defenses. Deal with it. As for the math, using a basic FFL scoring system that includes PPR, I'll tell you who really over shot their projected points and who really blew it. These are not necessarily the "hot" names in the NFL, but they are guys who the experts didn't expect to play this way and it could be a trend worth watching for both owners and waiver wire pickups.

September 5-9, 2013

  • QB Blaine Gabbert - hand laceration, requires surgery. Chad Henne will start. If either of these guys is on your roster, we need to have a serious chat about how you draft.
  • TE Zach Sudfeld - hamstring. RB Shane Vereen - broken hand, surgery. WR Danny Amendola - groin. Tom Brady is running out of targets. If someone doesn't step up to replac
    e them, this could be a really bad year for him. Amendola may play this week but who knows how these aches/pains will affect them. UPDATE: Team confirms Vereen placed on IR/will return, he's out until Week 11.
  • RB LaRod Stephens-Howling, ACL. RB Shonn Greene, sore knee, RB Reggie Bush, dislocated thumb, groin.  So LaRod is out for the year. Greene and Bush are sore but should play. Keep an eye out for updates this week... 
  • WR Jeremy Kerley, concussion.  WR Dez Bryant, foot sprain. Neither team can afford to lose these guys but both could see limited time if they play at all this week.

  • +31 QB Peyton Manning.  Period. You all saw what he did. Can he do that all year? No.  But he CAN do that for 14 weeks which is really all we care about. With the weapons at his disposal, he's gotta be owned in 100% of leagues.
  • +30 WR Anquan Boldin. Hey Baltimore - I guess he isn't done playing football yet! He's owned in around 90% of leagues... if he's available in your league, Go. Get. Him.
  • +25 TE Jared Cook.  +20 Julius Thomas +18 Jordan Cameron +17 Vernon Davis.  These guys all had great weeks. Davis is owned in 100% of leagues, but you might want to check on these guys if you are waiver hunting this week.
  • +20 RB Joique Bell. Yes, the Lions have Reggie Bush and yes, Reggie looked good this week. However. He is injury prone and
    they did share the load this week with Bell getting 2 TDs and 5 receptions which racked up some quick points. If you have Bush, I'd be looking to see if Bell is available. Just in case.
  • +25 WR AJ Green. +22 Victor Cruz +20 Julian Edelman +19 Demaryius Thomas. All these guys had great weeks but I'm not sure you can expect them to blow up like this very often. Cincy & Giants both had uncharacteristic games resulting in losses. Thomas greatly benefited from Manning's insane 7 TD game. But Edelman may be one of the few targets Brady has left in New England.


  • -13 RB David Wilson. The NYG not only don't like Wilson anymore, they signed Brandon Jacobs today. Yeah, the same one who played for them last year. I'd drop Wilson like a bad habit and go get Jacobs off waivers.
  • -11 RB Lamar Miller -10 Stevan Ridley -10 Maurice Jones-Drew -9 Mark Ingram. Rookie Miller you should keep an eye on. If Miami doesn't fix their O-Line issues, he'll keep averaging -1 yard per carry.  But the other three guys should turn things around. No need to panic. Yet.
  • -10 WR Roddy White -9 Calvin Johnson. Rumors of the ankle injury weren't exaggerated... I would keep White on my bench until he shows he can play the way he used to. Megatron is another player who just had a off week.  Mostly because the Lions just kept running the ball, and because the Vikings let them. Now, that may be because the Vikes were worried about covering CJ but no one keeps him in a corner. He'll get his numbers. Be patient.
  • -9 QB Jake Locker. OK he's a nice guy but really? He's your starting QB?  And it's not a Bye Week? Oy. 125 yards and 0 TDs against a pathetic excuse for the Steelers does not bode well for the rest of Jake's season. 

That's it for me this week.... feel free to send me questions via twitter @ClvlndK8!

Respectfully Submitted,
Cleveland Kate

Sunday, September 8, 2013

I got to interview Browns OL Garrett Gilkey!

This season marks a ton of changes and new faces for the Cleveland Browns. It's also the first season that I've had a legit title: Official Fan Reporter for www.nflfemale.com.  Yeah, I've been a tweeter and a blogger for years, but this season I'm on a mission - to cover the Browns with class, intelligence, and joy.  And the new guys running the show in Berea are changing the way they do things by really embracing fans and media alike.

I've been in communication with a few of the folks at the Browns and expressed an interest in interviewing one of the players. They were open to it and we have been working on lining up a time where I could talk to either Phil Taylor or Garret Gilkey. Yeah, those were the two guys I was most interested in talking to.  Phil, because he'll be playing nose tackle in the new defense and I think will be critical to the success of the D-Line. And Gilkey because he'll be replacing Jason Pinkston at right guard and will also be critical to the success of the O-Line.  Opposing defenses are going to see Gilkey - Cousins in their new spots and key on them as the path to get to QB Brandon Weeden.

With road games and scheduling issues the last two weeks, I had begun to fear that we just wouldn't be able to line anything up.  Then Thursday, as I was driving home from work, my phone rings...  "Hi Kate, this is Rob McBurnett from the Browns.  I have Garrett here.  Did you still want to talk to him?"  YIKES!  Oh Yes I said... give me a minute to get off the road!  I've done many things while driving - most not very smart - but there was just no way I could do my first phone interview while driving! So I parked, grabbed my notebook out of the briefcase, took a deep breath and off we went.

I've interviewed players and sports figures before on my internet radio show.  Don Cockroft, LeCharles Bentley, Sam Amico - ok, I'll stop name dropping now - and those were easy. I have a list of questions, I listen to their answers, and I let the interview go in whatever direction appeals to me at the time.  But this one was different. For this, I spent hours pouring over internet articles about Gilkey, made countless lists of questions, organized and reorganized them, and in general just obsessed as only I can do... In my defense, this was
a phone interview that would most likely be 5-7 minutes, I had to have clear questions and a plan. I couldn't just go off in any direction because I might not get all of my questions in. And I had to be able to write fastly and furiously.  (Is that a word? "Fastly?") I could barely read my own writing when I was done but I must say, Garrett Gilkey was a very easy interview. He answered all of my questions and we were on the phone for over 15 minutes!  He was professional and charming.  So a special thanks to GG for making my first "reporter interview" so easy.

Now the hard part.... writing it up!  I've never had to do that before.  If you wanted to know about an interview I had conducted, I'd just send you a link to the podcast. Easy as pie.  My biggest fear is that I've misrepresented something he said.  So.  Here's a link to my article on www.nflfemale.com.  Do not attribute anything to Garrett as a direct quote.  I tried to remember as best I could and, overall, I hope he comes across to you the same way he did to me....  A man of faith who knows how to be fierce on the football field.  And before you ask, NO I did not ask him about his long hair!  I may be a chick, but this is about FOOTBALL!  :)

Respectfully Submitted,

Cleveland Kate

Thursday, September 5, 2013

My Reality Check - I'm not Joe Smith

The past two weeks have been frustrating, to say the least... And, frankly, I needed a "Reality Check" to get myself back on track. Thanks to Cleveland Indian Joe Smith and the Browns 53-man roster cuts, I got two such "Reality Checks." And today, I'm feeling pretty good about things.

I've been writing this blog for a few years now. It started as an outlet for my creative juices and I wrote about my family and life in general. It quickly morphed into a Sports Blog about my Cleveland Teams. As someone who loves all things Cleveland-Sporty, I needed this outlet. I've been calling radio shows to talk sports since 1994 but that wasn't enough. I also discovered Twitter and, in a way, Twitter discovered me. I've got more followers than a simple sports chick should have and some faithful readers of my ramblings. I was starting to think maybe I could find a way to make a career out of my love of sports.

I've also had the opportunity to do an internet radio show. It's been 2 years since I started and I'm addicted. It began with a show every Saturday morning and has moved to Wednesday nights once or twice a month, but it feeds my need to talk. Those of you who know me must admit I'm quite the talker. But it's given me experience doing a ton of things that terrestrial radio hosts do and I wouldn't have had the opportunity to learn this type of a "craft" without the internet.

A couple months ago, I was approached to write an article or two for www.nflfemale.com about the Browns and how I became a fan. They loved my stuff and asked me to be the Official Fan Reporter covering the Browns this season.  Whoa! Someone who doesn't know me thinks I'm good, worthy of being an actual reporter... thinks people will want to read what I have to say.  Mind. Blown.  Of course I said YES and it's been really great.  I've "met" about 35 ladies via twitter that are hardcore football fans and rep their teams the way I rep my Browns. It's been amazing to find a group of women who really get my love of football and yes, guys, we are out there!

So I figured everything would be easy now as far as being "accepted" in a guys world. I sent a letter off to the Browns requesting Media Status - access to players for interview, info packets, field passes, the works. They're still deciding if I qualify as "media" or until they've had a chance to see me "at work, covering practices and games, etc."  Not sure I can do an adequate job of covering them without a certain amount of access, but I get it. I'm patient. No problem.

Then, last week, I had a player interview scheduled that was postponed. And rescheduled. Twice. Now, being a girl, I tried not to take that personally but you know me... I did. So I talked to a couple media friends about it and they told me not to worry. Happens all the time. But I'm ashamed to say that in my head I was thinking "Do they know who I am?" I'm the one and only Cleveland K8. People approach me on the street or at the North Ridgeville Corn Festival or at Cleveland Indians games and say "hey, are you Cleveland Kate from twitter? You're awesome!" Most are followers and I will admit to feeling a little bit famous when this happens.  Reality Check Time!  I am NOT Joe Smith!

I shall refresh your memory about Joe Smith.... last summer, there was an incident at an establishment that, I believe, may or may not sell alcohol. He didn't have an ID on him and when asked by security for that ID he replied "But I pitch for the Indians!?" The media and sports talk had a field day... how full of himself he seemed. Did he really try to play the "do you know who I am" card? Because we're all pretty sure the guard had no clue who he was.  Sometime, you need to be reminded that you aren't "all that."

Thankfully, I am self-aware enough to realize that even while I was thinking it, I was crazy. I'm a grain of sand in the beach of sports talk / writing. OK, maybe not quite that small, but I took a step back to look at what I was doing and, more importantly, WHY I was doing it. I was feeling very discouraged and unmotivated. But that's where the Browns 53-man roster cuts gave me a second Reality Check.

I wrote about the first 3 preseason football games for nflfemale.com and, after the 4th game vs the Bears, I really didn't think there was much worth noting from a football/plays/game standpoint. And as I was figuring out what to write about, the Browns started announcing roster cuts. And I felt something of a kinship with the guys getting let go. It's not the end of their NFL dream, just the end of it in Cleveland. I heard a coach refer to the cuts that way and that got me to thinking: why do they put themselves through it all?

So I wrote about some of the guys that were cut, guys I watched play last year or watched in training camp. Guys I was going to miss and hoped would either come back to the Practice Squad or maybe get picked up by another team. And I wrote about how gutsy they were to keep trying, keep getting knocked down and back up again, try all over with another team, pack their bags for one more hotel room... all in the pursuit of a dream to play in the NFL. Nothing is guaranteed and these guys are doing everything they can to take another shot at playing the game they love. I have the utmost respect for them.

So that got me thinking in terms of myself. Why do I talk sports? Why do I write? What do I really want? And how will I respect MYSELF if I can't answer those questions.  Well, here goes.

I talk sports because I freaking love sports.  I write because I have so many thoughts in my head that sometimes I feel as if it will explode if I don't write them down. Seriously. I've stopped in the middle of cooking dinner because I was compelled to write a blog. There are days/weeks where I could write every single day and not run out of topics. But out of respect for the dozen of you who read myself, I refrain. You're welcome. :)

What I really want is to be able to talk sports and to write. Period. It's not about money - I have a job. I can be happy just talking and tweeting and writing like I am now. I would like some respect though. And that's something I need to work on. The people that matter in my life respect my opinions and I need to be ok with that. (I'm a work in progress folks). But in order to respect myself, I need to keep doing what I'm doing, not let anyone interfere with my dreams. Yes, I'd love the opportunity to do more, have a larger audience, break the gender barrier in this town and show people that women do indeed have sports opinions and that we know what we're talking about....

So I'll keep tweeting.  And writing my blog & my articles for the website. And broadcasting my thoughts over the internet. And you can all come along on this journey with me, share your thoughts, conversate with me or even disagree with me.  It's all good. But I won't let anyone - not even myself - tell me I can't do this, that I'm not good at it, that I can't simply enjoy it for what it is without wishing it was more.

Sometimes a "Reality Check" or two is just the thing to remind us to Enjoy The Moment but also to Keep Dreaming. Maybe this will serve as one for you - live your dream, or at least live trying for your dream. Regrets are not easy to live with and why not just go for it? Because that's what I plan to do.

Respectfully Submitted,

Cleveland K8

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Browns Roster Cuts - Getting to 53 ain't easy...

Browns 18     Bears 16
Even with “scrubs” playing, this turned out to be a ball game and with the come from behind victory, Browns finish the preseason 3-1. Not too shabby… But I have to say, I dislike the term “scrubs.” These are guys fighting for their dream, to play in the NFL. They have more guts than I do and risk pain and injury to get a job playing the game they love. So, hats off to those guys and best of luck to the ones that got cut this week.

While fans were moaning and groaning over moves made by their teams as the 53-man roster deadline approached on Saturday, I want to use my five takes this week to talk about some guys that the Browns let go. I am hopeful they will either be re-signed to the Practice Squad or catch on with another team. The guys mentioned below have been the topic of many conversations around the Cleveland area. Abduel Kanneh was one of my favorites to watch at training camp, but apparently I was alone in my opinion that the kid had potential because his being waived has gone relatively unnoticed around here.

Kate’s 5 Takes

Inside Linebacker James-Michael Johnson was taken in the 2012 draft by the Browns in the 4th round. He played in 10 games his rookie season, racking up 20 solo tackles and 16 assists. He had a great INT return for a TD in the P4 game vs Bears. With the Browns move to the 3-4 defense, JMJ’s talents just didn’t mesh with the new scheme.  He was picked up off waivers by the Kansas City Chiefs. Since they run the 3-4 defense also, this may not be a better fit for him...

 Safety Jamoris Slaughter – when the Browns drafted Jamoris in the 6th round this year, there was a lot of head scratching around town. While he showed real promise, he also missed the entire 2012 season at Notre Dame with a torn Achilles. He saw little playing time during training camp even though he has been medically cleared to play. Monday, the team announced that he cleared waivers and had been signed to the Practice Squad. I guess they aren’t quite ready to write off one of the few draft picks they selected this year.

WR Tori Gurley,  Naaman Roosevelt,  David Nelson – Cutting the Boys from Buffalo wasn’t much of a surprise. Nelson hasn’t mentally recovered from the ACL injury that ended his time with the Bills. I don’t have any inside information or anything, but it just looked to me like he didn’t trust the knee yet.  Roosevelt was a received I really like in training camp. I thought he was quick and athletic enough to make the team, but he was also plagued with minor injuries that kept him off the field.  Gurley was the real surprise for me. We don’t have enough depth at WR so I was sad to see this athletic young man go. At 6’4” and 230 lbs., he’s the size I like in a receiver. Luckily, he cleared waivers and was signed to the Practice Squad on Monday. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for him. 

TE  Kellen Davis, HB Brad Smelley – Nobody’s talking about why Davis was cut. He made the 53-man roster but was cut the next day. With the release, he becomes a free agent. I saw some really good blocking and tackling from him in camp, but he had trouble making catches.  Smelley was drafted in the 7th round 2012. It feels like the new regime is cleaning house and getting rid of players that “aren’t their guys.” Or maybe it’s just me.  Anyway, while he could play H-back or TE, the Browns weren’t completely in love with him. They put in a claim for TE MarQueis Gray who had been dropped by the 49ers and once they were awarded him, Smelley was history. 

K Brandon Bogotay, Shayne Graham – yeah, so we don’t have a kicker.  Graham was just released with his contract terminated but Bogotay was listed as waived/injury. So, when no one claimed him, he was moved to IR (groin injury he suffered in preseason).  Normally, this wouldn’t be a big deal.  Teams don’t need a kicker until game time and I can understand wanting to keep other guys that you are still “on the bubble” about.  HOWEVER…. THIS IS CLEVELAND. Phil Dawson, our much beloved kicker and the only remaining player from the 1999 team, moved on to San Fran last year  and fans have done nothing but bemoan the fact that our Ace Kicker is gone and who could possibly deal with the weather and wind that come in off Lake Erie for 8 games a year? Meh. If a kicker is our biggest problem, I’ll be a very happy fan.  Oh, BTW, they’re having Kicker Tryouts on Tuesday… anyone interested?  (Dan Carpenter and Billy Cundiff are the leading candidates, but who knows?)

Week 1 will be here in just a few days and my Browns will face the ‘Phins of Miami. We have a terrible track record for the home opener and this season there is the added pressure of a fan base that is so hopeful, so desperate to believe in the changes the team has made. I believe we’ll win, but then again, I always believe.

Don't forget to check out all of my Browns articles, plus stuff from the other 31 teams on www.nflfemale.com. We may be ladies but WE KNOW FOOTBALL!

Respectfully Submitted,

Cleveland Kate