Friday, January 2, 2009

No wonder the Browns Suck

I'm sure pieces of this article have been rehashed over the past week on the radio or in print, but after reading it's amazing the Browns were able to win 4 games.

Pat McManaman of the ABJ outlines here the way the front office worked in the Browns structure...

.....Flawed system

What started out as a coach-GM partnership eventually frittered into a GM-takes-the-turf scenario

That fact became more and more apparent as Monday went on and more and more folks started talking about the Browns' situation.

Lerner conceded Monday morning that former GM Phil Savage had final say in the hiring of assistant coaches.

Savage always was in charge of the draft.

And, as Savage said many times, he chose the 53-man-roster.

This had coach Romeo Crennel in a position of leading a team of players he didn't choose or draft and working with coaches that were not his.

Consider a head coach working with two coordinators he did not hire. That's what Crennel did this season.

This is not to say that Crennel did not like and respect Rob Chudzinski and Mel Tucker. He did.

But Savage picked them.

Coaches deserve the right to pick their staff and have strong input on players. Crennel didn't have either, a situation reminiscent of the position in which Al Davis has placed his coaches in Oakland.

The coaching staff, for instance, did not favor the drafting of linebacker Beau Bell or tight end Martin Rucker.

Savage decided to do so, and even traded a future draft pick to acquire Rucker.

As the season went on, neither played. Because the coaches did not think they could.

Jerome Harrison was used as a change-of-pace back, and at times, it was effective. But the coaching staff did not think he could handle a larger workload. Same with Joshua Cribbs, who had trouble learning plays at receiver, let alone quarterback.

Draft picks also found homes in Cleveland for a longer time than the coaching staff deemed worthy. Word around the league was that if a player was drafted by the Browns, he'd get three years no matter what he did.

Guys like Antonio Perkins, Babatunde Oshinowo, David McMillan, DeMario Minter and Isaac Sowells were carried for two or three years because the guy who drafted them decided on the final roster.

Other problems

Disagreements were exacerbated this season over the use of the quarterbacks — Brady Quinn was lifted in the loss to the Houston Texans because of his broken finger — and over the front office's decision not to add veteran help at receiver or cornerback.

The coaches believed all year long it was playing with cornerbacks who were not starting caliber, and they felt the lack of a second receiver hurt Derek Anderson and Braylon Edwards.

The total result: The coaching staff felt handicapped by decisions made by folks in the front office who were not on the field or in the meeting rooms every day.

Some of these problems come from front-office structure, certainly.

Most league observers reacted with great surprise when they learned Crennel did not choose his coaches.

They wondered how the team could set up that structure, and why Crennel didn't fight it.

But some of it, too, was personality.

Then-President John Collins wanted to remove Savage after his first season. It seemed (and was) ridiculously early in Savage's tenure to make that move, but some of the reasons Collins gave then make sense now.

Then, when Collins left, Savage stepped into a power void.

And after the following season — a bad one — Savage gave Crennel a list of assistant coaches he had to fire. Savage then hired the replacements.

When Tucker replaced Todd Grantham a year ago, it was assumed Crennel had asserted authority. The move was Savage's.

Both Savage and Crennel received contract extensions in the offseason, but Savage got one more year than Crennel did.

The Browns were coming off a 10-win season, so things looked positive.

Falling apart

When the team started losing, Savage started to make statements that he did not coach the players. One report (from Channel 3's Jim Donovan) said Savage drew up a list of possible coaches for Lerner following the loss to the Denver Broncos — with seven games remaining.

Crennel never went public with his concerns. He also never demanded changes in the structure — even after he learned that alleged statements and questions Lerner asked through Savage were never actually voiced by the team's owner.....

People thought Butch Davis has a huge ego, it seems that Savage isn't far behind in his. After reading the article it makes me wonder how many draft picks Savage wasted on non-NFL caliber players/projects, which are fine for a good team, but not a team that needs players. I'd like to think that this team does have talent, but it wouldn't shock me if the new GM has to clean house with some of the players.