Forget the Indians. I already wrote about the choke job yesterday. Today we’re going to talk about anything but. I’ve got some Browns thoughts and some thoughts on the World Cup and the healthy state of the game here in the United States despite the dismal showing recently on the highest stage.
I’m not worried about DeShone Kizer and Kevin Hogan
As a Browns fan, I know that every NFL season is long. Sometimes these things are impossibly long as we all know. Hue Jackson chose Kevin Hogan because he thinks that kid gives him the best chance to win right now. I think that’s probably a true statement based on what we’ve seen recently.
DeShone Kizer’s red zone interceptions are entirely unacceptable. It’s one thing to be inaccurate. It’s another thing to commit turnovers, specifically by throwing interceptions. It’s yet another thing altogether to throw interceptions on the doorstep to scoring points in the NFL. DeShone Kizer has displayed a pattern of throwing the most gut-wrenching kind of interception he possibly could, and it’s stunting the growth of the whole team. With that in mind, you can’t argue a coach’s decision to make a move to the backup.
Kevin Hogan is just 24 years old, so he’s almost as much of a “prospect” as DeShone Kizer. Once you’re in an NFL camp and on an NFL roster, your draft position doesn’t matter anymore. I don’t hold out much hope for Kevin Hogan to become a legit NFL starter, but it’s a remote possibility. And even in its remoteness, maybe it’s more likely than DeShone Kizer’s chances. I would rather bet on Kizer because of his physical stature and abilities, but I’m saying there’s a chance. So why not?
Additionally, have you noticed – at least anecdotally – that the tight ends seem to find additional utilization when Kevin Hogan is running the offense? At a certain point if the QB development process is stunting the growth of other players – specifically ones like David Njoku who were drafted higher than Kizer – it makes sense to try and make a decision that keeps in mind more than just the quarterback position, no matter the importance.
In my mind none of this precludes Kizer coming back and becoming the starter anyway. I know it’s less than perfect to start a guy and then pull him midway through the season, but let’s not pretend like there was anything potentially perfect about this year’s Cleveland Browns team.
That is unless you’re talking about the threat of another Cleveland Browns Perfect Season Parade, which sadly is on the table as a realistic possiblity.
My Future World Cup Hopes Rest in High School Soccer
The USMNT missed the World Cup thanks to a 2-1 loss at the hands of Trinidad and Tobago, but I didn’t see it. I was at Chagrin Falls High School watching the Tigers amass a 4-2 victory over NDCL. It was probably the sixth game I’ve seen so far this fall high school sports season, and I can’t wait for the playoffs to start. I’ll be sad when I won’t get to watch the USMNT in the World Cup, but I think it’s a weird aberration for the sport thanks to what I see at these high school games.
I promise this isn’t my own personal “glory days” segment on WFNY, but I played a whole lot of soccer in my day. I played travel and then with a local premier team in the 90’s when I was on my way to high school. When I got to high school, I lettered all four years, first starting in the middle on defense while also being the backup keeper, and ultimately being the starting keeper my final three years. That’s not to tell you how good I am as much as it is to say I’ve played a lot of high school soccer on a lot of high school soccer fields and the game is vastly different – and better – than when I played.
I don’t know all the factors that have gotten us to this point. I don’t know about the youth camps and training regimen that kids are going through today and how they compare to what I had growing up. The one factor that I know for a fact is changing the landscape of soccer in this region is the proliferation of field turf.
When I played my senior year in 1997, the only team that had a turf field was Perry out near the nuclear power plant. Their field was that old-school carpet, however, not the synthetic grass. Pretty much every high school in our area on the east side of Cleveland has found a way to fund a field turf field, and it’s a huge deal. When we played at West Geauga, the fields were turned into a giant mud pit by the football team sometime in September. As a result, we didn’t have much choice but to play a more vertical “kickball” style of play. Rather than emphasize foot skills, possession, passing, and movement in space, we kicked it over the defense and tried to take the top off the defense. It’s not a winning formula as you rise the ranks of competitive soccer and I’m sure it stunted the growth of the United States game for vast swaths of our country’s geography.
I can remember one game in particular – away at Chardon – where the entire field was a mud pit, and the mouths of both goals had nothing but three inches of standing water. It would have been comical if it hadn’t been so frustrating. I don’t know what sport we played that day, but it sure as hell wasn’t soccer. As a goalkeeper, I spent the entire game diving on balls that got stuck in the middle of a pond. Forget about the defense and offense that ended up converging on a completely stopped ball that had smacked and stopped directly in the standing water. It’s a wonder that there weren’t huge collisions and broken bones.
On a wet night on Chagrin Falls’ field turf field, players and keepers are forced to deal with a few awkward skips and a slightly slippery ball. I still play old man soccer on Sunday nights, and we played in the rain just this week on Kenston high school’s field turf field in the rain under the lights. Our shoes got water logged, and the ball scooted toward the sidelines a bit more quickly than normal, but even at our advancing ages, we were able to keep our feet and play a possession style of soccer in the weather.
I am really sad that the USMNT didn’t make it to the World Cup. I think it’s a horrible failure and embarrassing, but I don’t think it means that the development of U.S. soccer from top to bottom is broken or worse off than it was in previous years. I’m seeing a modern, competitive form of soccer being played by kids aged 15 to 18 in our region alone. I see them playing in a style befitting the world stage even if the kids I’m watching aren’t the ones who are good enough to make it to the National Team someday. I’m confident the feeder system is healthier than ever and that we’re slowly closing the gap on the rest of the world even if Bruce Arena and his roster couldn’t hold serve against Trinidad and Tobago to secure a spot in the World Cup.
The Foo Fighters are Unbridled Joy
There’s nothing we need more than unbridled joy right now, right? Check out the Foo Fighters doing carpool karaoke.