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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 . . .

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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.

Bewildered in Berea

The mess in Berea reached comical levels yesterday with the abrupt firing of Joe Banner and Mike Lombardi by an owner who acknowledged he pretty much screwed up the first year and a half of his ownership. I’m really not sure how to react to all of this, except to say that Jimmy Haslam may have finally stumbled into a situation that has a chance of working, with competent football people coaching the team and running the front office. None of us really knows whether Ray Farmer and Mike Pettine can work well together, let alone turn the Browns into a winning franchise. But both seem to be hard working and well respected in their fields, so at least that’s a start.

As Browns fans we’re all numb to this nonsense at this point, and the Browns continue to be a laughing stock as fans and reporters chronicle the decades of futility along with the past 14 years to complete turmoil. In the end, however, all that matters is whether Haslam has finally put together an organization that has a chance to succeed.

The most troublesome part of the organization, however, is Haslam himself. It’s clear now that he and Banner were a poor fit, and adding a toxic character like Mike Lombardi to the mix only made things worse. Banner and Lombardi obviously made some smart moves, like bringing in Brian Hoyer and parlaying a disapointing Trent Richardson into a first rounder, but the coaching fisacos trumped all of that along with some very questionable personel decisions.

But we’re also hearing troubling reports about Haslam. Reportedly he listened to glowing reports from Bill Belichick and Urban Meyer about Greg Schiano and was very impressed with him after a pointless interview while Banner stewed and basically refused to participate. How could anyone want to consider Greg Schiano after his disatrous tenure in Tampa? I don’t care if Vince Lombardi’s ghost recommended him. He clearly was in over his head in the NFL, and from a PR perspective even talking to him made the Browns look like clowns. The fact that Haslam’s braintrust couldn’t stop him from seeking out Schiano drives home the point that Haslam had lost confidence in Banner and Lombardi. The main job for Ray Farmer now is controlling his owner, who seems to seek advice from everyone who has a big name in the NFL and changes his mind constantly.

Meanwhile, Banner seemed obsessed with repeating his self-proclaimed Andy Reid triumph, looking for every young coach that was building a reputation. The idea of putting so much stock in Adam Gase seemed absurd. Meanwhile, Mike Lombardi was apparently angling to bring in Josh McDaniels, someone who had a reputation of being just as toxic as him. Looking back, it shouldn’t be surprising that the coaching search looked chaotic, as the Browns had three guys with diverging agendas involved in the search.

Somehow, however, this “braintrust” settled on two solid candidates with Mike Pettine and Dan Quinn, though we now know that Haslam and Banner had different ideas on whether to wait for Quinn.

So where does this leave the Browns? On the one hand, we have an owner that looks like a poor imitation of buffoons like Daniel Snyder. On the other hand, the revolving door of people running the Browns have somehow managed to leave the franchise in a position to improve dramatically heading into this offseason. Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert certainly made some mistakes, but they cleared out an old roster and started a youth movement while protecting the team’s cap situation, leaving the team with young stars like Josh Gordon, Jordon Cameron and Joe Haden. Joe Banner and Mike Lombardi spent more money but still have the Browns in a favorable cap situation with multiple picks in the first round following the Richardson trade. The team has some young stars and is poised to draft a potential franchise quarterback in a draft stacked with talent.

Now it’s up to Farmer and Pettine to take the next steps. Farmer is respected around the NFL, but he’s a first-time GM and he faces some huge decisions on resigning players and picking a quarterback. Then we’ll see if first-time head coach Pettine can take the team Farmer assembles and starts winning.

If the Browns hit on a good quarterback and Pettine turns out to be a good coach, fans will be able to laugh about the drama of the past several years. But if things don’t pan out, how can anyone have confidence that Jimmy Haslam can fix the situation? Let’s hope he’s found a GM and coach that can stay in the job for a while.

Cavs acquire Luol Deng

This season has been quite a mess so for the Cavs, but the acquisition of Luol Deng for the failed Andrew Bynum experiment has the potential to save the season. I’m worried a little about his injury issues this season, but if he can play he’s exactly what the team needs. The three position has been a disaster, the Cavs need a second scoring option to compliment Kyrie, they need outside shooting and every team can use Deng’s defense. It seems to be a perfect fit, so the season suddenly became exciting again.

I don’t support the idea of tanking again. It’s time for the Cavs and Kyrie Irving to make a playoff run.