The Cleveland Browns were one of the teams most talked about at the recent draft. There is a growing love fest with Coach Eric Mangini and General Manager George Kokinis, referred to collectively as "Mankok."
The reality is that we won't know for about three years how good this draft was.
This past week on Bleacher Report, I have read way too much bashing of Romeo Crennel and Phil Savage, the former coach and GM.
One comment that stands out is that it is nice to have an administration that builds from the inside out, meaning to strengthen the interior lines instead of going for receivers and backs.
Excuse me, but didn't Savage and Crennel draft Joe Thomas with the third pick two years ago ahead of Brady Quinn? I'll bet Brady is happy they did that because now he has protection.
The part I find fascinating is that a year ago the city loved Savage and Crennel. In one year they went from being geniuses to poor evaluators of talent. Amazing.
Let me ask Browns fans a few questions:
Was the team better when Crennel left than it was before he got there?
They almost made the playoffs in 2007. 2008 was the product of a tough schedule and many injuries.
How could they have handled the quarterback situation differently?
The reality is that they handled it correctly.
Starting Brady Quinn his rookie year would not have been good. Nothing kills a QB more than playing him before he is ready. He should know that playbook inside and out. They had to bring both Derek Anderson and Quinn back last year.
Trading Quinn would have been crazy when they weren't sure if Anderson was for real. Trading DA would've also been crazy. Their first three games were against Dallas, Pittsburgh, and Baltimore.
So, yes, give Brady his first starts against those defenses—that's smart. Waiting until the schedule was soft was smarter. It is too bad he got hurt, but that is not on Crennel and Savage.
Crennel was, and still is, criticized for his reluctance to put Quinn in. I say God bless him for that. He wanted to protect his investment. It is way better to play him a few weeks too late than a few weeks too early. Err on the side of caution.
Would the Browns have their current quarterback situation if Crennel and Savage were still there?
They had already decided Quinn was the QB going forward. I think Crennel knew that after the Houston game when DA replaced an injured Quinn and looked horrible. DA wouldn't be on the team today if Savage and Crennel were still in Cleveland.
Are the Browns a better team now?
Hopefully, but it remains to be seen.
Certainly the offensive line seems better, which is a huge plus. However, with the departures of Kellen Winslow, Joe Jurevicius, and Donte Stallworth, the receiving corps is worse. They did draft a couple of rookie receivers, but who knows if they will pan out?
The defense will feature many new faces, many former Jets. There are some decent players there but nobody who will excite the fans.
So what is my point?
Mankok is there now and deserves the support of the fans. However, saying that they will be better than Crennel and Savage is an uneducated claim.
Crennel and Savage did a good job. The team was better when they left than it was when they got there. So stop bashing them. They don't deserve it.
I didn't think it was fair that they were fired. I knew last year would go the way it did. I knew DA would struggle against that schedule. Quinn would have too. I knew the team still had pieces missing.
It would have been interesting to see what they would have done with Quinn as the starter from Day One and Winslow still on the team.
This is my last question and I will let you answer it:
Last year I felt they were still a year away from contending. How far are they away now?