It's been a long week for Randy Lerner. The kind of week he would just assume forget and wishes he would never have again. Randy Lerner spent this holiday week firing both his general manager Phil Savage and his head coach Romeo Crennel, and having to look for the perfect replacement for this wreck that has been the Cleveland Browns.
The franchise is under some of its darkest days right now; a lot of questions loom. Unfortunately, it looks—right now—like there are more questions to be found than there are answers. So while Randy Lerner attempts to answer his franchise's questions, let's try to answer our own.
Here are 10 questions and answers amongst the Browns' fans.
1. What will happen with the general manager situation?
It looks like Scott Pioli is the most likely candidate for the position. I think it is a good choice; he comes from a solid organization with solid leadership, one that has also been a successful one.
Having ties to this area with both Mark Shapiro and Danny Ferry help. I am not enthralled with him wanting to bring in Kirk Ferentz, but if he leaves him to be the x's-and-o's guy while Pioli does the management of the team, it could work.
I also like that they may talk with Rich McKay from Atlanta. The guy who is my pick for who I would love to see get the job, Floyd Reese, looks to either be left out of the equation entirely, or if he is not, he looks to be lost in the shuffle.
I love the job he did putting the Tennessee team together, and I think he would be capable of doing the same here. The fact that there is no talk about him right now is disappointing.
2. What time frame would you expect a head coach to be named?
I would say to look for one to be named by at least mid-late February or even into the first week of March at the very latest, in just enough time for the man to get here, settle, get acclimated with the front-office staff and guys who may be staying in Cleveland to workout for the winter, and get ready for minicamps in March and April, and of course, the draft.
3. Why so long? Why not more like the end of the month?
This team needs to hit a home run with whom it selects if it ever thinks it is going to get off the ground. That means they should exhaust all of their options. This simply takes time, plus not all of the names that they want to talk to about the coaching vacancy are available right now because they are part of a team still in the playoffs and they won't be able to talk to them until their team is eliminated.
Plus, sometimes teams wait to fire coaches until after the Super Bowl on purpose. If a name like a Jack Del Rio became available and they already have a coach, they may not be very happy!
4. Is there any chance Romeo Crennel could come back in any capacity?
It depends. If Scott Pioli becomes the general manager, then he could vouch and make it a requirement for whomever that may be to hire Crennel to be the defensive coordinator.
One question I heard posed on the radio last week I think makes a lot of sense: Is Romeo a good defensive coordinator because it's his talent? Or is it because of the guys he worked for in the past, such as Bill Belichick and Bill Parcells?
You may remember when Chris Palmer brought him in during the 2000 season and the defense was not very good. Just some food for thought.
5. Would you look to the college ranks for a head coach?
Absolutely not! We have been there and done that. That was why I said I was not keen on the thought of Kirk Ferentz coming here. With the recent line of college coaches such as Butch Davis, Steve Spurrier, Nick Saban, and Bobby Petrino not having good records, this team cannot afford another miss like this.
The basic problem is the difference between college and pro football makes it to great of a transition. In college, everyone is around the same age and so the skill set is somewhat the same as is the tempo of the game.
In the professional level, the game speeds up. Players get bigger, faster, stronger, and smarter in years, and then there is the maturity issue; boys become men, and it just gets to hard to make the adjustment.
It appears the two coaches worth having the most in Urban Myer and Bob Stoops are not likely to leave where they are now anyway.
6. What is the future of Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow on this team?
I think they will both be here next season. Based on this past year, you are not going to get much interest in Braylon unless you package draft picks, and we all know where that has lead us in the past.
Despite all of Braylon's baggage he is still probably the best receiver we have right now and I think it is in our best interest to let whatever happens play out until his contract is up. He just needs to have someone willing to get in his face when he has his meltdowns and put him in his place.
As far as Kellen goes, he is productive and can be the talent to lead this team for years to come. He really needs to spend this offseason taking better care of himself at both the physical and nutritional aspect of his training.
His team needs him too much and it is time for him to know his place and embrace it. We do not have all that much with out him and having a superstar to go into the mix would make this group all that much better.
7. How do we fix the running game next season?
Jamal Lewis really needs to work hard at what he can do to pick up yards over the offseason. He probably has lost a step, so with that in mind, why not split the carries with Jerome Harrison next season?
Harrison did an exceptional job last year but he was given limited playing time. He has shown significant improvement so let's make him part of our offense more next season.
Run blocking needs to be reintroduced to the offensive line since they do not do so very well. While you're at it, why not teach some downfield blocking to some of the wide receivers and tight ends? If you look at any team in the NFC East, their ground game is so good because everyone on the offense helps block for them!
8. What about the defense; how do we fix it?
It is going to take a lot of patience and time. We need depth everywhere, especially at the linebacker and the defensive line positions if we are going to stay with the 3-4 scheme.
9. What do you think the team's most glaring on-field need will be at draft time and free agency?
Wide receivers and linebackers. Moreover, linebackers because we really need to have a good pass rush and a presence in the other teams backfield. If we are sitting there with the third or fourth pick and either Micheal Crabtree or a guy like a Rey Malaluga or a Brian Cushing, I would go with Malaluga or Cushing because they are always around the ball defensively and they have the fiery intensity this team needs.
Crabtree is an amazing talent, but wide receivers are a dime a dozen and you could probably get value in a later round say a guy like a Brian Robiskie from Ohio State, who has big play potential, and he is also good possession receiver. You could probably also get a good complement for Braylon Edwards through free agency.
It may not be a bad idea to try to pick up a running back in the draft either. Last I checked, the only free agent to be of an substance at the position was Brandon Jacobs (cringe). Jacobs is not horrible, but you could definitely do better.
10. What off-the-field issue would you say needs to be addressed?
There is no leadership on this team.
Not much shined over the last month of the season, but the training-room accident between Shaun Smith and Brady Quinn and the Braylon Edwards tirade after the Eagles game showed this whole team has been lost without someone who has the skills to intervene and tell the guys they can not have those sorts of things happen in the locker room.
Can that come from someone within? Sure, but no one has stepped up and taken the role yet so it looks like they will have to get it from an outside source. Most likely the head coach.
It looks like you can cross Mike Shanahan, who was fired from the Broncos last week, off your wish lists of replacements at head coach. He told Peter King he will not coach in 2009 unless he is given the perfect situation.
There may still be a way the Browns could lure Marty Schottenhiemer here—if they hire his son Steven from the New York Jets. This seems unlikely because his name has not been so much as mentioned.
But if the Browns hypothetically did hire him, it would not be surprising if he tried to recruit his dad to be involved with the organization somehow, much like Lane Kiffin did when he recruited his dad Monte to be the defensive coordinator at Tennessee.
In a totally unrelated Browns story, one of my favorite gifts this Christmas from my parents was a copy of Warrick Dunn's book Running For My Life, My Life in the Game of Football and Beyond.
In this book, he describes a beautiful relationship he maintained with his mother until she was fatally shot while on duty as a police officer in Baton Rouge, LA and how it changed his life and relationship with his siblings.
I would recommend this for anyone who is a fan of Warrick Dunn or football in general. If you like inspirational stories it is for you. It will even make you cry; I did.