Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE
The Cavaliers season is underway, and three of Byron's bunch are making headlines early. This week's Newsmaker rankings from Scott Sargent.
1. Pat Shurmur, head coach, Cleveland Browns (last week: 1)
When rooting for a team that has managed to lose 11 straight contests, the least one can hope for is that the head coach of the franchise, the captain of the good ship Cleveland, learns from his mistakes. With Pat Shurmur, however, the in-game decisions continue to plague him worse than those scurrying to get the ball snapped before the play clock hits zero.
Punting with the ball on a critical fourth down while in opponent territory just two weeks earlier, Shurmur opted to go for it on 4th-and-2 on his own 25-yard line despite having two timeouts and the two-minute warning in his back pocket. The result, a poorly executed pass, a turnover and three points for the Baltimore Ravens, subsequently putting the contest out of reach.
In doing so, Shurmur, in a matter of just a few game minutes, took enough fan morale to fill the William S. Mather and promptly tossed it overboard in to a floating pile of dead carp and used condoms. Naturally, this lead to rooftop proclamations that the head coach should be fired after just 25 games as a head coach. While this isn't likely to happen in such a reactionary manner, it's difficult to envision any scenario where Fritz' nephew is wearing the Orange and Brown come 2013.
Quote of the week: "We found a way to get it kind of close. There were special teams issues that popped up. This was a very fine football team we played. I don't know how it's reported locally. They're a very good football team, we had a chance to beat them and we didn't."
2. Jimmy Haslam III, majority owner, Cleveland Browns (last week: 2)
Imagine 22 strangers waltzing into your home every Sunday morning and taking turns blasting you square in the nuts for approximately three hours. Now imagine paying roughly $1 billion to afford this masochistic luxury. Certainly, a lot of pain goes away with each additional comma found on his checking account statement, but it's tough to envision anything this awful, and this frequent, happening at any point during Haslam's tenure as CEO of Pilot-Flying J.
Run out of beef jerky? Buy some more. Cases of Miller High Life nearing expiration? Lower the price. Head coach continually botches in-game decisions? All Jimmy Haslam III is left with are frustration-laced right hooks and face palms and the potential for a maltreated housekeeper. Or two.
Given his statement about making personnel decisions toward the end of the season, it appears that Haslam's true leverage will come following Week 17. If it's any consolation, the impending actions should secure him a spot near the top of this list going forward.
The kid who was too small, too fat, too much of a malcontent and not enough of a starter and scorer on his collegiate team has slimmed down and has played a big role in both of the Cleveland Cavaliers' early-season wins, scoring 17 points on Opening Night and 28 more in a huge road win over the Los Angeles Clippers -- one where he hit seven of his 11 three-point field goals.
Waiters may never be as marketable as Kyrie Irving, and it will be some time before he is even considered for the final shot in any close contest, but the kid who was entrusted with the fourth-overall selection on NBA Draft night is showing the world that the Cavaliers' front office may have been on to something. We're still waiting for him to attack the rim on the regular while providing the much-discussed pick-and-roll game, but the early results on Waiters' young career have undoubtedly given Cleveland some excitement.
4. Anderson Varejao, center, Cleveland Cavaliers (last week: unranked)
Slowed by a bit of a knee injury on Wednesday night, Anderson Varejao is the NBA's league leader in total rebound rate, pulling down more than a quarter of all opportunities; his Player Efficiency Rating is sixth among all peers. If this number holds, it would better that of Dwight Howard's 2011-12 total by more than three percentage points.
His game is far from sexy, and he's a player who many in Cleveland have pegged to not be wearing the Wine and Gold come March, but he's single-handedly extending possessions, adding opportunities and is, surprisingly, becoming a key part of the ball movement within Byron Scott's Princeton offense.
Whether or not this bides the big man time remains to be seen. Regardless, he's a much-watch player for fans and opponents alike.
5. Kyrie Irving, point guard, Cleveland Cavaliers (last week: 9)
The fact that Kyrie Irving is fourth in the entire NBA in scoring yet is fifth on this list says more about what we have come to expect from the silent assassin than the flair and importance of his game; the kid just dropped 28 while playing with food poisoning.
Between the second installment of his Uncle Drew series and his all-around on-court dominance at the age of 20, Irving continues to be a star on and off of the hardwood. With Waiters playing at the abovementioned high level just five games into his rookie season, it appears that this diminutive backcourt duo will give the city of Cleveland something to be proud of for quite some time.
6. Brandon Weeden, quarterback, Cleveland Browns (last week: unranked)
Serving as a polar opposite to Irving, the Browns' rookie ball-handler is on the tail end of his 20s, is not exactly diminutive, and is far from dominant. In fact, Brandon Weeden should be happy that his most recent loss has him on the latter half of this week's Newsmakers as he spent 60 game minutes either checking down to underneath receiving options or airing key throws over the heads of primary ones.
Weeden's all-around dysfunction led to the Browns settling for five field goals in five trips to the red zone. To his credit, he claims to have watched video of said loss twice since its completion and says he will use the bye week to view portions of others. The Browns undoubtedly have a lot of season left, but one can't blame a fan for thinking of this as a negative.
7. Asdrubal Cabrera, shortstop, Cleveland Indians (last week: unranked)
The baseball version of Anderson Varejao, Cabrera provides an aspect to a team that is otherwise barren -- talent. His bat at his position is premium; his penchant for the big play in the field is undeniable. But given his contract coupled with the Indians spending a first round selection on Francisco Lindor just a season ago, it makes sense that the switch-hitting shortstop is the target of many trade inquiries.
The Indians, if they plan on competing at any time in the next three seasons, need to replenish their starting rotation. It can be argued that they have not had an "ace" arm since the trade of Cliff Lee back in 2009. It can also be argued that the only way to obtain a player with the potential to be one would be to off-load the All-Star infielder.
8. Trent Richardson, running back, Cleveland Browns (last week: 7)
While the Browns struggled against the Ravens from a final score perspective, it was Richardson who quietly amassed one of the best performances in recent history, becoming the first rookie running back since 1998 to break the 100-yard threshold against a vaunted defense.
A leader on and off of the field, Richardson has stated -- multiple times -- that his yardage totals do not matter if the team does not win. Though Tampa Bay's Doug Martin went HAM against the Oakland Raiders and garnered all sorts of headlines, it's the leadership skills of T-Rich that continue to cement the importance of the Browns trading up to get him on Draft Day.
9. Chris Antonetti, general manager, Cleveland Indians (last week: unranked)
Here's hoping that Chris Antonetti doesn't have a shared-minutes phone plan because someone will wind up being on the short end of the allotment this winter. With a 68-win team in dire need of replenished talent and a farm system that will not produce it for at least another two seasons, the Indians general manager will be forced to make some key decisions regarding players who were deemed "core" just eight months earlier.
With fan morale as low as it is, and the perception that all the Indians are is a feeder system to the rest of Major League Baseball, it will be a tough balancing act for the decision-maker of what is undeniably the most loathed franchise in the city of Cleveland.
10. Urban Meyer, head coach, Ohio State Buckeyes (last week: unranked)
You can't have an undefeated, top-five program and not pay a bit of homage to the man who has made it all happen. Meyer took a team that flirted with .500 all last season and has made it a team that continues to rack up wins through Big Ten play. Sure, a few of them were a little close for comfort, but the ledger remains the same. Like the Browns, Meyer will take a bye week to prepare for his immediate future. Unlike the Browns, Meyer will take a perfect record into what will be his two biggest challenges -- potentially more mental than physical -- of his first season at the helm.
Scott Sargent is a co-founder of WaitingForNextYear, where he writes about all three professional Cleveland teams. He's been voted "Ohio's Best Sports Blogger" for his work at WFNY. Scott covers all things Cleveland, providing feature writing and weekly snapshots of what mattered and where we're headed in the world of Cleveland sports.