Sunday, December 28, 2008

Heads Will Roll ... But How Far?

As the Browns close out yet another sickening display of offensive ineptitude in a game which I'm admittedly only half watching because a) I value my time and b) I value my happiness, everyone knows that changes are coming - both at the head coaching position and possibly at GM. However, before Browns fans can sit back and delude themselves with the familiar comfort of "hope", this report has surfaced from ESPN and the Plain Dealer, indicating that both Crennel and Savage might return to the Browns next season in differing capacities.

According to varying reports, it's possible that Crennel may return next season as the defensive coordinator, whereas Savage might return in a scouting capacity. The fact that either could possibly return in any capacity evidences the problem with current Brown leadership. Cleaning house requires removing the "dirt." Hiding our dust under the rug doesn't solve anything - the problems caused by their lack of capabilities remain.

I know Crennel was supposedly a defensive mastermind while with the Patriots. But look at the Browns defense under his leadership:
  • In 2005, the Browns were 16th in yds allowed per game and 11th in pts allowed.
  • In 2006, the Browns were 27th in yds allowed per game and 22nd in pts allowed.
  • In 2007, the Browns were 30th in yds allowed per game and 21st in pts allowed.
  • This season, before the Steelers game, the Browns were 26th in yds allowed per game and 14t in pts allowed.
So Crennel, our defensive genius of a head football coach, has actually made our defense progressively worse, while being given better talent in his time here. And this is the individual we want to put in charge as defensive coordinator? Look, by all accounts Crennel is a nice guy, but he has obviously failed as a head coach and I don't want him around this Browns team in any capacity next season. I severely question his decision-making (running a 3-4 defense when we clearly lack the linebackers to do so), his clock management, and his ability to control the large personalities on this team.

Now, moving Savage into a scouting position would make some sense if I thought for a moment that he would accept such a reduced role. Let's face it, GMs all have egos - large ones. They control a team's destiny, and in the end, believe that they know what's the best course for success. As stated in the ESPN article, "Savage has said that power is the reason he came to Cleveland three years ago from Baltimore, where he was the Ravens' director of player personnel." I don't think Savage would be able or willing to swallow his pride, sit back, and allow someone else to take this team where he couldn't get it.

That, coupled with some questionable decisions made by Savage himself this season (the Winslow debacle, the e-mail debacle, and the failure to address a 3rd WR) would lead me to believe that Savage will be shown the door as well in the coming weeks. While Savage has made some shrewd moves in bringing in Shaun Rogers and improving the offensive line, he has also mortgaged some of our future draft picks to acquire the likes of Beau Bell and Martin Rucker, neither of who even saw meaningful playing time this season (though I hold out hope for both them). Savage appears on the cusp of being a capable GM, but I'm tired of suffering through the learning pains with him.

While I don't fault Randy Lerner for considering all his options, the writing has been on the wall for awhile here. Both Crennel and Savage failed in their jobs to bring a winner to Cleveland. Last January, Lerner gave Crennel an extension through the 2011 season, worth nearly $12 million, to reward him for the team's surprise performance of last season. Crennel promptly showed us that the turn around happened in spite of him, not because him. It's time for the Browns to cut their losses, admit their mistake and move on in a new direction. Browns fans, say it in unison with me now, "There's always next year."


Anonymous said...

In looking at Browns defensive rankings under RAC, it's only fair to also point out his genius in guiding the 2000 Browns to a 27th overall ranking (of 31 teams at the time), 29th against the run. He did manage to get them ranked 12th against the pass, but I can only surmise that's because nobody bothered to throw on a team when they could run so easily against them--why stress the QB unnecessarily.

And though their defense had a down year this year, the Patriots for the most part haven't lost a step since Crennel left four years ago.

With two superbowl rings earned while a D-line coach under Parcells and three as DC under Belichick, it is worth noting that Crennel's supposed defensive genius is not necessarily attributable to his own efforts, but by riding Belichick's (and Parcells') coat-tails.

If Randy Lerner has any sense (his decision-making ability to this point doesn't inspire much faith) Romeo will be cleaning out his office first thing in the morning, and his first phone call will be to find out if Parcells will exercise his opt-out clause with the impending transfer of Dolphins ownership.

Alvaro Espinoza said...

Excellent points which I should have made myself.