Optimism In The Undrafted: Can Reinders Be Next Cribbs?

5 05 2010

One reason I love Browns fans: We are so hopelessly optimistic about our teams, despite what rational reasoning tells us.

Finish a season at the bottom of the barrel? We may be downtrodden for a bit, but it only takes one new regime change and the excitement of the NFL Draft to get everyone looking forward to the next year.

This everlasting buoyancy even finds its way from late round draft picks (I’m admittedly a little turgid over 6th round picks Carlton Mitchell and Clifton Geathers) to the undrafted rookie free agents.

Sure, those undrafted free agents have about a 95% chance of getting cut. But to a Browns fan? That glass is 5% full! In fact, it sort of reminds me of this scene:

We can probably all thank Joshua Cribbs for aiding to our disregard of statistics. As an undrafted rookie free agent, Cribbs defied the odds by making the team through his guts and willingness to do whatever it took to make the team on special teams. He defied the odds even more by becoming an integral part of the team. He continues to defy the odds today with each Pro Bowl trip and broken NFL record.

So in an effort to find the Next Josh Cribbs, I’ll be highlighting a few unsung prospects leading up to OTAs and training camp. Today, I’ll be looking at undrafted free agent Joel Reinders.

Joel Reinders, Offensive Tackle, University of Waterloo

  • Apparently, the Canadian prospect caught the attention of the Browns scouting staff from the very YouTube video seen above. I doubt that video was all that was considered when they offered Reinders a contract. But even if it was, who could blame them? The guy looks like a beast.

    Check out that Handlebar!

  • If the video wasn’t enough for them, then maybe his headshot did the trick. He just looks like a mean person. I’m not saying he goes around stealing children’s ice cream and punting puppies. I’m just saying that it looks like he would give two sh*ts if he bashed you in the throat on the football field. Oh wait. That happened in the first play of his highlight video!
  • Seriously, check the video out again. On that first play, it looks like he unapologetically collapsed a guys trachea.
  • Moving on to other random thoughts not concerning the video or his mugshot…
  • The first thing that jumps out to me is his size. At 6’8″ 320 lbs, Reinders towers over everyone. The other thing that jumps out to me is his athleticism. He played basketball for two years at the University of Waterloo. He played basketball in college so he has to be pretty agile, right? But because he originally only played basketball, he has limited exposure to football. In fact, he only played in eight games at Waterloo.
  • Now, logic says that having playing only eight games simply means he’s inexperienced. But to a Browns fan like myself? All it screams is untapped potential. And I’m only half kidding. Obviously such little experience to football should serve as a cautionary flag to optimism. But at the same time, Antonio Gates played basketball at Kent State and hadn’t played an organized game of football since high school. I’m not saying Reinders will have the same success as Gates. I’m just saying you never know.
  • I’m excited to see how he handles the coaching. Say what you want about finding a prospect via YouTube, but a guy that is 6’8 320 who is strong with quick feet has potential. You can’t teach size or athleticism, but you can teach technique.
  • As an offensive tackle, he also comes in at a position of need. Obviously not left tackle, Joe Thomas has that on lockdown. But the right tackle position has been unsteady to say the least. Ryan Tucker was a good player, but had other issues. Since, there has been a bit of a revolving door with Kevin Shaffer, John St. Clair, and Porkchop Womack starting at the position in recent years. Now comes in Tony Pashos. Again, as an optimist, I’ll hope its a solid pick up — but he’ll still be over 30 at the start of the season.
  • At the very least, Reinders is an intriguing possibility to develop into the long term answer to the Browns right tackle position.

I know the odds are stacked against him. But he’s got enough potential to think he might just make it.

Might. Its a mighty word in Cleveland, isn’t it?

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Cavs: Cleveland Fans Deserve Better than that Game 2

4 05 2010

If it looked pretty flat and smelled pretty flat. Then by golly, the Cavs played flat.

It was as if Rajon Rondo took a galion roller to the Cavs roster. To provide a visual, Rondo played the role of Austin Powers while the Cavs embodied the absent minded security guard in the following clip:

Terrible. Cleveland fans deserve better.

If the Round 1 Game 3 loss to the Bulls served as an innocent wake-up call to the Cavs, this Round 2 Game 2 loss should serve as a disrespecting slap in the face. I was glad the Cavs lost that third game to the Bulls. I’m terrified that they lost this game 2 to the Celtics.

The Bulls were a young team with little veteran leadership, and the Cavs lost an away game. Minor bump in the road. On the other hand, the Celtics are a team full of veterans with playoff experience and a championship ring to their name that just beat the Cavs in their house. They also head back to Boston knowing that they just out dueled the Cavaliers in 3 out of 4 halves played. And in Cleveland, nonetheless.

Tonight, the Celtics stole both the momentum and the home court advantage for the series. This is a big deal.

The Cavs started slow and finished slower. Sure, they had a decent run at the end. But it was too little too late. The message had already been sent: They took this team too easy, and the Celtics made them pay.

After a sluggish start in the first quarter, the Cavs went on a decent little run to pull within 1 before a Rondo 3 to end the quarter put Boston up 4. Second quarter? Same thing. Slow start, Boston begins the quarter with a 9-0 run followed by a Cleveland run that pulls it back to within 4 going into halftime.

I was already worried at this point. It seemed obvious that the Cavs were taking the Celtics lightly. Sure, we started off slow and they might be winning now. But we can turn it on later and get the victory. No big deal.

I think this overconfidence will prove to be the Cavs Achilles heel. That, and free throw shooting.

They don’t seem to play with a sense of urgency unless they have a fire lit under their butts. In Game 1, it was Mo Williams dunk that sparked a Cavalier comeback. In Game 2, it was a “Holy Sh*t, we’re down 20 with only 8 minutes left.” As we all unfortunately know, that “Holy Sh*t” moment came too late.

With home court advantage now in the favor of the Celtics, hopefully the fire is aflame under the collective Cavaliers butt. The sense of urgency begins now.

Cleveland fans deserve a better performance than they saw in Game 2. We are a proud, championship starved city that sticks with their teams through thick and thin. Regrettably, its usually a lot more thin than thick.

But with this 2009-2010 Cavs, they are the thick. Thickest team we’ve had in a while. All Cleveland fans want is to see them play with heart for 48 minutes.

We don’t deserve an “Ah, we can get ’em later” attitude and halves that are effectively mailed in.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: this Cavs team should win a championship. Now its up to them to hold a blowtorch to their rears, play with some heart, and win one for the City of Cleveland.

Better Late Than Never: Cavs – Celtics Preview + LeBron MVP Thoughts

1 05 2010

With the Cavs set to take on the Celtics tonight in the first game of Round 2, I wanted to put down some quick thoughts on the series as well as LeBron’s second MVP award and those who did not vote for him:

Quick Thoughts:

  • This Celtics team can be very dangerous. If the Cavs slip up and take one or two games lightly, especially at home, that could leave the door open for the Celtics to win the series.
  • Again, the Cavs should win a championship this year, which means that they should beat the Celtics this round. But that does not mean the Celtics are not a dangerous team. Indiana Jones had the talent to avoid the booby traps and retrieve the golden idol in the opening scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark. He should have been able to do it. But one slip up, and he’s a goner.
  • It’ll be interesting to see how Mike Brown decides to go about this series, whether he opts for the bigger, half court game, or the younger, more athletic small ball. Against Chicago, he kept trying to force feed the half court game and get Shaq involved even though it wasn’t working. I was fine with this then, because playing small ball played to the Bulls strengths. They had young, energetic and athletic bigs in Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah, so they would excel in those fast pace, running the floor games.
  • I believe we should come in with the opposite strategy for Boston: play small. The Celtics have aging farts, err… veterans in Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Michael Finley, and Rasheed Wallace. Yes, they have younger energy guys in Kendrick Perkins, Glen Davis, and a young stud point guard in Rajon Rondo. But aside from Rondo, this team isn’t best suited for a fast pace game. Garnett’s knees are weaker than a Kevin Durant bench press. The Cavs should run them into the ground.
  • But knowing Mike Brown, you just never know. If the Cavs play to the Celtics strengths, and go big. I could see this going 6-7 games. If the Cavs play that athletic small ball, the series should be over within 5 games.
  • My Prediction: Cavs in 6.
  • Why 6? I just don’t see it going 7, but I can see the Cavs slipping in one game and Mike Brown slipping in another. So there’s my reasoning for six. Steel trap logic, I know.

More Random Thoughts that were brought to my attention from others:

  • Brian Windhorst tweeted today that the since the Cavs and Celtics met in the 2008 Conference Semi-Finals, the Celtics have the exact same starting five (Rondo, Allen, Pierce, Garnett, Perkins), while the Cavs have exactly one same starter. I’ll give you three guesses as to who that is… Guess yet? … Okay … Trick question: Damon Jones.
  • Seriously though, that type of continuity is what makes the Celtics a very dangerous team.
  • The Cavs starters, other than LeBron, in that ’08 series? Delonte West, Wally World, Ben Wallace, Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Tonight, the Cavs will start Mo Williams, Anthony Parker, Antawn Jamison and Shaquille O’Neal, with West & Z available off the bench. Nicely done, Ferry.

Final Thought on this series:

  • Simply put: this series should be awesome. I’m giddy for it. Ever since their last meeting, I’ve been hoping the Cavs and Celtics would meet in the playoffs. There is some bad blood between these two teams. You all know that last game on Easter Sunday: the Cavs making a 20+ point comeback, LeBron hoisting the ill-advised 3-pointer for the win as opposed to taking it to the rack and into overtime, Garnett grabbing his crotch and yelling at LeBron, Tony Allen talking trash to LeBron (yes: Tony Allen talked trash to LeBron. Idiot.) Combine that with “Big Baby” messing up the Diesel’s ability to hitchhike, several playoff meetings, and you have yourself a heated rivalry in Round 2!

Oh Yeah! LeBron won the MVP!

  • LeBron will be named the leagues Most Valuable Player for the second year in a row, becoming only the tenth player in league history to win the award back to back.
  • This may have been the most anticlimactic MVP announcement in recent memory. ESPN.com writer, Bill Simmons, scrapped his favorite article of the year (his MVP countdown) because it appeared to be such a foregone conclusion. LeBron was viewed as the preseason pick for MVP by many pundits. And ever since the first month came and went, he left little doubt he would be named MVP until the announcement became official.
  • Seriously, LeBron’s season was just absurd. He averaged 29.7 ppg, 7.3 rpg, and 8.6 apg. He nearly swept the Player of the Month awards! And most importantly, he was the best player on the best team in the league.
  • LeBron had such a convincing MVP performance this year, it was like a bizarro health care issue: there was no debate. He may not have won the award unanimously, but I had yet to see someone publish an article putting LeBron 2nd or below. I think that’s because they know that if they let anyone know they didn’t vote LeBron as MVP, they’d develop a reputation of having an IQ lower than Sloth from the Goonies. And deservedly so.
  • Here’s how I imagine a conversation going with someone who didn’t vote LeBron as MVP:

– “Wait. You didn’t vote LeBron as MVP?! Who did you vote for?”
– “BA-BY… RUTH!”
– “Huh? Babe Ruth? He’s a baseball player. And he’s dead.”
– “Oh, Baby Ruth! As in the Chocolate Bar. OK … Wait, that makes even less sense!”
– “Choc…..co…..late.”
– “…”

So how do you think the series will turn out?

– Sam