Look at the Hardwood
Unlike the Cleveland Browns; the basketball franchise for the city is in the midst of a deep playoff run. There are a few things the football team can take from the Cavaliers – something the city would gladly embrace. Obviously some tasks will be easier to accomplish than others, but let’s review several aspects (especially during the postseason) that can transform a good team into a great one.
The Cavaliers have now gone through the season without their starting center and power forward. Fortunately, they were able to make a trade (and a shrewd one) to replace the man in the middle. The loss to Kevin Love hurts greatly, but the team appears to have adapted to a new philosophy both offensively and defensively exceptionally.
In 2014, the Cleveland Browns lost a couple guys to injury for an extended period of time (Armonty Bryant, Phil Taylor, Miles Austin to name a few) and they were able to overcome those. However, the loss to center Alex Mack completely changed the last half of the campaign. The offense was stagnant, as they were no longer winning at the point
of attack. Hopefully the drafting of Cameron Erving will prevent this type of scenario playing out in 2015.
Stepping it Up
Whether it has been J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert, or Matthew Dellavadova – it seems like a guy or two rises to the occasion unexpectedly during the 2015 Cleveland Cavaliers’ playoff run. Not having to rely on your superstars every single night is a luxury to have in the NBA, and it is unrealistic to believe that they will dominate every contest. Having other guys improve their game also puts doubt into the opposition’s mind.
Granted football is a different sport, but there were some similarities between the Cavs this year and the Browns last year. Taylor Gabriel (an undrafted free agent at the time) came up huge a few times during the early part of the season, and K’Waun Williams and
Buster Skrine filled in well in the secondary. However, football requires many more players working together – therefore the actions of a few could not help wins games. This is a difficult aspect to accomplish, but hopefully the Browns got enough stars in free agency and the draft that “stepping up” will be the norm in 2015.
Getting it Done in Crunch Time
This simply refers to finding ways to win games. It can be excelling at forcing opponents miss shots, scoring at timely points, or not making a critical mistake – but the wine and gold have been coming out ahead during most contests this season. This is a huge factor that teams must possess if they want to make the postseason and be the last franchise standing.
The opposite has largely been the case for the Cleveland Browns since 1999. Turning the ball over late, not getting the key stop on defense, or failing to convert on third down has killed this franchise. A few games last year (against the Saints, Titans, and Falcons – to name a few), the Browns finally seemed to turn the tide. I believe they can build upon that this season and get to a point where many expect them to pull out a win in a dire spot.
Conclusion: While it would appear that the Browns are light years from the type of success that the Cavaliers are exhibiting – they might be closer than you think. Injuries are a part of professional sports, and some teams deal with those better than others. I believe the Browns are building depth and will be able to withstand those going forward. Having a talented roster and being mentally tough are what the team needs – along with multiple athletes outplaying expectations and sealing key victories on a frequent basis.