The Browns’ 2018 schedule features another uneasy path for a franchise coming off an 0-16 season that set a rebuild in motion with new GM John Dorsey in the offseason.
Hue Jackson is back, and the coach will have to show some progress after compiling a 1-31 record over the last two seasons. The goal should be simple against the usual AFC North rivals and cross-over games against the NFC South and AFC West: Win one game and go from there.
Westbrook hasn’t looked himself, and he played with black kinetic tape all over his upper body. Billy Donovan says he’s fine — or at least he hasn’t been told of any injury — and Westbrook has fully participated in practices and shoot-arounds. But he struggled shooting again, hitting 6-of-17 from the floor for 20 points, plus 10 rebounds and 3 assists. George finished with 32 on 9-of-21, but with Anthony hitting just 5-of-18, including 0-of-6 from 3, and with the Thunder unable to produce consistent stops, that wasn’t cutting it. It isn’t a coincidence that Westbrook finished with three assists and didn’t have any in the first quarter.
“I think he’s feeling more like himself today,” Maddon said.
Bryant was hit by a pitch for the seventh time this season when German Marquez’s 96 mph fastball struck the underside flap of his helmet at Denver on Sunday. Last year, the slugger was hit by a pitch 15 times. Bryant was plunked 18 times in 2016, when he was voted National League MVP.
“Probably the word on the street is to pitch him inside,” Maddon said. “I’m not accusing anybody of throwing at us. I don’t think there’s anything sinister to this point.”
On sitting in with exit interviews with players: “Until you said it, I didn’t know that there was backlash.
“It felt like the right decision. And right now, this organization desperately needs a new attitude and a new way of doing things. I can’t know what that should be if I don’t understand what the players think, the coaches think, the scouts think, the fans think. This isn’t that hard. I have to acquire the information. It’s not my ideal use of my time to spend two days in meetings. If I thought that wasn’t of value, I wouldn’t do it.”
On fan support: “In a nontraditional market, you don’t necessarily have the luxury of having as much support as you’d like through the good and bad times. So that’s the main thing: [Fans] want to support the team, but they need a reason.”