The Cleveland Browns are coming off of their best season in the past decade. Rookie quarterback sensation and 2018 1st overall pick Baker Mayfield finished 2nd in rookie of the year voting. Joel Bitonio, Myles Garrett, Jarvis Landry, and Denzel Ward were all named pro bowlers, the most the Browns have had since 2015. Most importantly, the Browns bounced back after a winless season in 2017, and finished the 2018 season 7-8-1, just barely missing out on a playoff spot.
A good deal of this recent success can be attributed to General Manager John Dorsey, who was highered before the 2018 season began. Dorsey immediately made an impact, drafting quarterback Baker Mayfield, Cornerback Denzel Ward, and running back Nick Chubb, who all had phenomenal rookie seasons. Dorsey also traded for star wide receiver Jarvis Landry, who played a huge part in turning the team around with his play on the field, and his infectious winning attitude.
The Browns have already made a splash this off season with the controversial signing of former Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt. Hunt was released by the Chiefs this past season after he was involved in a domestic violence incident and is yet to be punished by the NFL. John Dorsey was the man who drafted Hunt to the Chiefs and decided to give him a second chance in Cleveland. Before being released this past season, Hunt was considered one of the top players in the league, which is why the Browns chose to take a gamble on him and bring him to Cleveland.
For the first time in years, the Browns will not be searching for a quarterback in the offseason. Baker Mayfield showed lots of potential this past season and it looks like he will be the Cleveland’s quarterback of the future. There still are some holes on the Browns roster and some positions that need to be upgraded if the Browns want to compete for a playoff spot next year. A few areas that stand out are the offensive line and their defensive secondary. The Browns could also use a more reliable kicker and a big-bodied wide receiver that can use his size to help him make plays.
The Browns will look to address these needs through the NFL Draft and free agency, and could even look to make a few trades as well.
Currently holding their own pick in rounds 1-6 (17th overall in each round) as well as the New England Patriots 3rd round and 5th round picks, Jacksonville Jaguars 5th round and 7th round picks, and the San Francisco 49ers 7th round pick, the Browns will have plenty of opportunities to improve through the draft.
Another thing that Cleveland has is cap space. With the 4th most in the league at $77 million, the Browns could look to sign some big name free agents to help bolster their already impressive roster.
As mentioned previously, some trades could be made as well, as John Dorsey will explore every option he has to help the Browns become a better football team. One name that has recently been linked to the Browns is New York Giants superstar wide receiver, Odell Beckham Jr. Although Beckham recently signed an extension with the Giants, many believe that he now wants out of New York. John Dorsey seems to be pushing for a trade that would send shockwaves throughout the NFL.
Another reason to believe that the Brows could be a playoff team in 2019 is the coaching staff. After firing former head coach Hue Jackson halfway through the season, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams took over as interim head coach. Williams helped coach the Browns to a 5-3 record in their last 8 games. While some thought that may have been enough to sign Williams long-term, he was instead fired in favor of coach Freddie Kitchens. Kitchens also received a promotion halfway through the season, and went from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator. Kitchens was given lots of credit for his creative play calling, and also for utilizing rookie Baker Mayfield in the Browns second-half of the season turnaround.
No matter what happens this offseason, the Cleveland Browns will be an exciting team to watch in 2019.
This past Thursday, suspended defensive tackle of the Dallas Cowboys, David Irving, announced that he is quitting the NFL. Irving, 25, made the announcement as he filmed himself in a video on Instagram Live, less than a week after the league suspended him indefinitely for violating its substance-abuse policy for the third time. This brings up the controversial topic of marijuana use in pro sports.
Irving went on to talk about how he believes that weed could be beneficial to some players health if used properly. “If I’m gonna be addicted to something, I’d rather be addicted to marijuana, which is medical — it’s a medicine; I do not consider it a drug,”Irving said.
Another point that he brought up is the use of weed in other sports. “How many NBA players you see getting in trouble about this? How many coaches you see getting in trouble about this? How many baseball players? How many UFC players getting in trouble?” Irving said.
Marijuana testing is different in all sports, and so are the penalties that are handed out if a player gets caught. The NFL is the most strict of all professional American sports leagues when it comes to handing out punishments.
Many other professional athletes, as well as Irving, see weed as a type of medicine. Former NFL running back Ricky Williams used it as a pain reliever and mood stabilizer. Former NBA player Chauncey Billups also thought about it that same way. “I honestly played with players — I’m not going to name names; of course I’m not — I wanted them to smoke. They played better like that. Big-time anxiety, a lot of things can be affected — [marijuana] brought ’em down a bit. It helped them focus in a little bit on the game plan,” Billups said.
With laws changing, and more research being done, it could be time for professional sports leagues to look at and reevaluate their stance on the use of medical and recreational marijuana in sports.
Senior lacrosse player, Amber Patterson is furthering her athletic and academic career at the University of Findlay in the fall of 2019. She is beginning her fourth and final season of high school lacrosse and is excited to move onto the college level.
Patterson’s journey with lacrosse began in sixth grade when she joined a team. She did not know much about the sport and decided to try it out and ended up loving the game. She plays defense for the high school varsity team.
Over the years, Patterson has improved and learned many different skills. Each year she has become stronger and more accelerated.
“I’m still obviously improving but the biggest change is how aggressive I was and the amount of fouls I got. I rarely get any anymore because I learned how to play the ball properly,” Patterson said.
The University of Findlay is nearly three hours away from Stow, and Patterson has been set on her decision to attend Findlay for a while.
Patterson’s motivation is her love for lacrosse and the joy she feels playing with her best friends. Having a sport that has both friends and something she loves makes lacrosse that much better for Patterson.
“I did a camp at Findlay my sophomore year and I loved the school. They also have my major which is Animal Science/Pre-Vet and that major is not very common,” Patterson said.
The process Patterson went to in order to receive an offer from Findlay was attending many camps, clinics and tournaments where recruiters and coaches have watched her. The coaches then decided they wanted Patterson to play for their university.
In order to prepare for her final lacrosse season, Patterson has been conditioning and lifting during the off-season to strengthen herself.
In addition to training for her upcoming season, Patterson also will be training over the summer at Findlay with her college team. Practicing everyday and following the guidelines and workouts Findlay chooses for Patterson will determine how she prepares.
One difficult aspect Patterson will need to adjust to is the difference between the high school and college level. Practicing for longer periods of time and more commitments are some aspects to the changes.
“I think the biggest challenge will be the pressure in college. It is a lot bigger than just a high school sport so that is what I’m mainly nervous for,” Patterson said.
Patterson will be graduating and heading to Findlay in a few short months, and she is ecstatic to see what the future holds.