Here’s a couple little pieces that offer some reflection on the Browns’ recent past, but also are relevant for the team heading into 2009 and beyond. So, let’s take a look at some different aspects of power in Berea before we celebrate America’s independence by buying hundreds of dollars worth of Chinese made fireworks. Of course, I’m not referring to economic independence. Emerging economic superpower? Whatever, China. Not if we’re broke.
And speaking of broken (and lame transitions), the great folks at TheOBR.com, via Sports Radio Interviews.com have found the first full-length interview given by former Browns coach and alleged “good guy” Romeo Crennel. So far, it appears that new coach Eric Mangini is the polar opposite of Crennel - which seems to be a natural evolution for a struggling team to shift from a “player coach” to “disciplinarian.”
On if current head coach Eric Mangini ever talked to Crennel about staying in Cleveland to work on his staff:
“Eric talked to me about staying and I told him what my concerns were - particularly my hip, I wanted to get that taken care of. And then I felt like for Eric, it’s his show now. He has to be the guy in charge and he has to run it the way he wants to run it and he doesn’t need anybody looking over his shoulder.”
I know a lot of fans were eager to see Crennel retained in some sort of fashion, as most of the blame for last season’s collapse has been attributed to Phil Savage. While Savage did miss on several draft picks and free agents, ultimately he did improve the team. However, I’m of the opinion that Crennel was overwhelmed at times during his Browns’ tenure and also never really seemed to rise up the emotional expectations that being an NFL coach requires. Or, in other words, Crennel often seemed out of it.
As for a future role with the Browns, what exactly would that entail? If you view the Crennel-coached teams of the past four years, the most striking detail about them was the plain, toothless defense that existed solely to react to the opposing offense. Having said this, it would seem unlikely that Crennel, despite his extensive coaching resume, would be suitable in a defensive coaching role under Belichick. So, if Crennel is not helping out on defense, what exactly would he be doing in Berea?
On his disappointment about how things shook out for him and the Browns during his tenure there:
“Well you know we had a tough year last year. Everything that could go wrong, went wrong. But the nature of this beast is you have to win and we didn’t win. So they decided to make the change and that’s in the past so we’ve got to go forward.”
Again, let’s throw out the cliche - “Romeo is a good guy.” Great. Whatever. But Crennel’s response to this question was pretty much his standard answer throughout his Browns tenure. It always baffled me that Crennel never showed any real emotion during his time in Cleveland, with the slight exception of challenging some media members regarding the QB situation midway through 2008. Although many factors that led to losses were completely out of Crennel’s control, as a spokesman for the franchise, Crennel was less than inspiring.
On the Browns having to sign a 4th string quarterback by season’s end due to injuries to their top three guys:
“We were [disappointed], particularly with the expectations going in, but you learn that this game, it’s not a forgiving game, you know. The things that happen in the game happen and you have to deal with them.”
You have to feel for Crennel here. He went from Ken Dorsey to Bruce Gradkowski, with Syndric Steptoe as a starting wide receiver. Perhaps this is why Crennel gave such unimaginative, sterile answers to the media. How could you not be stunned stupid after having to rely on these types of players to close out your year?
On if he thinks that he lost his team in terms of effort:
“No, I didn’t feel like I lost the team because like I said, I thought that they were still trying and still playing but when you go from a first string quarterback to a fourth string quarterback, there is a difference in talent and ability. So generally, that fourth stringer, he’s not as good as the first stringer.”
The last month or so of the season is where true Browns fans discovered who the really valuable players are on the roster. Considering how hopeless the last several games turned out to be for the Browns, it was almost inspiring to watch players like Shaun Rogers, Josh Cribbs, Jamal Lewis and D’Quell Jackson give great efforts, despite the situation they were facing. Although I criticize one and all when it comes to players, based solely on effort, these four are among the jewels of the current roster.
And in looking back again…which brings us back to the same spot…
And if success is determined by whether the Jets made it to the playoffs, the various moves from a season ago fairly can be regarded as a massive failure.
Tannenbaum, however, didn’t shoulder the blame for the misadventures. Instead, coach Eric Mangini was fired, after only three years on the job.
The next time owner Woody Johnson decides change is needed, Tannenbaum likely won’t be quite so lucky.
In the wake of Mangini’s departure, Tannenbaum has continued to throw the ball deep. This year, he traded up 12 spots in the first round of the draft, via a deal with Mangini’s new team, to land quarterback Mark Sanchez.
But serious potential problems remain.
For all the Browns fans who seriously think that Mangini has softened in his dictatorial approach to running a team, think again. After losing to GM Mike Tannenbaum in the off season front office power struggle, Mangini should be more determined than ever to not lose his grip of power during his time in Cleveland. Obviously, the hiring of George Kokonis was a shining example of Mangini fully asserting total control over the franchise.
It should be interesting to keep an eye on the Jets’ fortunes in 2009 and beyond, both on the field and in the front office. If the Jets struggle this coming season, which is a possibility considering they may start a rookie quarterback who has few offensive weapons (sound familiar?), then GM Mike Tannenbaum may be on his way out of New York. Why does this matter for a Browns fan? You could view Tannenbaum’s dismissal as a bit of validation for Eric Mangini. And also, if the Browns can surprise in 2009, then possibly the Jets may begin to reevaluate their past decisions.
And then finally, a team other than the Browns can live in the past…at least for a while.
Posted by DK
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