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Get ready for Johnny Football packages

With Brian Hoyer named as the starter, the next question will be whether the Browns will have some packages ready to get Johnny Manziel on the field. Head coach Mike Pettine initially said no, but then he clarified that as the season progresses we might see special packages for Manziel.

This makes sense. Some national writers were questioning the decision, and there are plenty of arguments out there for never taking out your starting quarterback. One writer pointed out that Manziel isn’t the kind of runner that can bull his way to a first down or touchdown in short yardage.

Yet Manziel brings quickness and elusiveness, and that offers a real advantage in short yardage situations. Now the defense has to at least account for the possibility of the quarterback running, and a read-option formation offers all sorts of opportunities for misdirection. Any hesitation on the part of the defense can be the difference in getting a critical yard.

Also, this makes coordinators have to prepare for other packages, so I think offering this wrinkle from time to time makes a ton of sense for the Browns.

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Lebron 2.0 era begins in Cleveland

Lebron James is coming home. Looking back now, the signs have been there for a long time that this is what he wanted, but that didn’t make the process any less dramatic, particularly in the last several days when panic started to set in for Cavs fans as James delayed his latest decision.

His letter in SI struck the perfect tone, and was much better than contrived public apologies from him and Dan Gilbert. Also, the context made this easier for me and some Cavs fans. Lebron had a mixed record in Miami despite winning two championships, and is leaving the team whose best days were clearly behind it.

I actually enjoyed the free agency process. I knew a return would be great for the Cavs, the city of Cleveland and Lebron, but I also wasn’t holding my breath. If Lebron made the wrong decision again, that was his problem, and the Cavs were set up with a young and talented team with Kyrie locked up for a long time.

But this time Lebron did make the right decision, and he did it with class. He’s created a path for himself that can now lead to a legacy he can be proud of.

Some national reporters are saying this morning that winning a championship in Cleveland isn’t important, but that’s just foolish. Things will get tough again if the Cavs falter, particularly if Lebron buckles when the pressure to win ramps up. But I don’t expect him to falter. Lebron has made it clear that winning at least one championship is critical, and he has embraced that challenge. It’s no longer a burden dumped on his shoulders – it’s mountain he has chosen to climb. That makes this decision even more impressive. Welcome home.

Can the Browns get the quarterback position right?

There are tons of good QB prospects in tonight’s draft, and frankly I don’t have a strong preference. I’d be happy with many of them – I just hope the Browns are able to land the one they really want.

That said, this photo illustrates the pathetic QB history of this franchise since its return in 1999. We need our luck to change . . .

Cheap Indians break off talks with Justin Masterson

Good grief. There’s every reason to e excited about the Cleveland Indians this year, as the young pitching staff has huge potential and they have a solid lineup. With Terry Francona at the helm and a higher budget for free agents, the Dolans finally decided to join the major leagues again and actually compete, as opposed to just acting as a minor league team for franchises who were serious about winning.

But these negotiations with Justin Masterson are a real buzz kill. Masterson offered the Indians a proposal for only 2-3 years with a reasonable salary given today’s market. Sure, the Indians have plenty of young pitching and can probably survive losing Masterson. But Masterson isn’t insisting on a ridiculous long-term deal. He gave the Indians a real option, and the should have come to terms with him.

Now they’ve given Tribe fans another reason to be skeptical, and we’ll have to hear more stories about payroll and attendence in a year when everyone should be excited about the team’s chances.

The Dolans came a long way last year in rebuilding some trust with the fans. I gave up my season tickets when they unloaded Cliff Lee for a song one year too early, and many other fans were finished with them after that abomination. Now they’re taking another step back when they should be celebrating a real contender.

Bridgewater pro day a dud

Pro days can be overrated, but teams certainly take them into account. Most analysts agree that Teddy Bridgewater is the most pro-ready of the quarterbacks in this draft class, and he seems like an ideal fit for a West Coast type offense. The Browns will run the Shanahan version of that offense, so Bridgewater is certainly an option with the fourth overall pick.

But when you watch his pro day video, he just doesn’t look like someone who should be drafted that high. His arm seems to be average at best, and the floaters he threw would blow all over the place on a cold, windy day in Cleveland.

Who knows what to make of all this. The draft is pretty deep with decent quarterback prospects, so many are now speculating that the Browns will take Sammy Watkins or even a defensive player with that first pick, and then wait a bit to pick a quarterback.

Tony Grossi is lamenting the possibility of the Browns going after Matt Schaub, but that doesn’t bother me. He could battle Brian Hoyer for the starting spot along with the rookie, and with Hoyer coming off an ACL injury it makes sense to have another viable veteran option.