The Browns Table: Queen-City Conquest and Bye-Week Banter
Welcome to The Browns Table, a season-long look at the 2008 season for the Cleveland Browns from the point of view of the Browns fans here on Bleacher Report.
This discussion is not just meant for the contributing Browns fans. Please feel free to comment on any of the questions or any of our answers below.
We welcome any comments and an open discussion about the Browns below. If you would like a seat at the table, leave me a note on my profile and we will try and get you in the rotation.
As always thanks to Browns fans Samantha Bunten, The Coop, and Dustin Haley for their contributions this week.
Well, the Browns got into the win column, finally, in Week Four, and sit at 1-3 going into their bye week. But the win came over the winless Cincinnati Bengals and for a lot of fans, it just feels a little less satisfying. The guys...and gals...discuss the game, quarterback, coaching, and the organization.
So, let’s talk Browns football…
It wasn't pretty, but the Browns pulled out a 20-12 win in Cincinnati. To you, is this a "win is a win" scenario or is this more of a demoralizing loss because of the way the Browns attained victory?
Samantha Bunten: In a better season, I think this might be more demoralizing, but since the Browns are struggling so much, I think we have to see every victory as a "win is a win," particularly against teams in our division.
I think any win at all should be looked at as a springboard for the confidence of a team that has looked scared and unsure of themselves on the field all season.
The Coop: When you're 0-3, you'll take a win any way you can get it. It doesn't matter who the Browns played, and it doesn't matter who was in the other team's lineup. The only important thing is having more points than the other team when the clock hits zero.
I can't believe how cynical we've all gotten. We are quick to point out the bad, but we always neglect the good. The defense created five turnovers, and the offense made plays when they needed to. There are definite positives to take from the game.
Dustin Haley: Hey, a win is a win, regardless. I don't see it as demoralizing because of the big fourth quarter. I know it means very little to the fact the team is playing poorly, but the players won't look at it that way. Their morale is the only morale that matters, not us as fans.
Jeff Smirnoff: A win is a win, but the way it came about was a little concerning. The Bengals were starting a QB with three career starts, which came three years ago. The Browns' defense forced two interceptions in the first half, but the Browns were down 6-3 at halftime.
The Browns, in my humble opinion, are a more talented team than the Bengals. The fact that despite that, they did the same stupid things—procedural penalties, inability to complete a pass downfield, questionable playcalling—for the first three quarters does worry me.
But it the end, they all count the same and it was a W.
At halftime, Derek Anderson’s stat line stood at 4-10 for 27 yards. He started the third quarter and promptly threw an interception on the opening drive and then went three-and-out. It worked out in the end, but should he have been pulled? Why or why not? Why do you think he was or was not?
Samantha Bunten: I'm a firm believer in the saying, "If you have one quarterback, you have one quarterback. If you have two quarterbacks, you have no quarterback." In other words, Anderson is bad, but I'm not sure Quinn is much better.
Neither of them is, at least at this point, truly good enough to lay claim to the starting job. I don't believe pulling Anderson in this situation would have helped him, Quinn, or the team.
I don't think making such a change mid-game is good for a team whose confidence and fluidity is as precarious as this group's, and I think Coach Crennel knew this. If he wants to give Quinn a chance soon—and he should—he should put him in at a time when he believes Quinn can succeed, not just at a point when Anderson screwed up.
The Coop: Prior to the interception, Anderson threw a terrific 19-yard completion to Steptoe. On the three-and-out, the Browns would have had a first down, but Braylon took a dumb penalty. Let's not forget those plays.
I don't think DA should have been pulled. It was a three-point game and the defense was playing well. Maybe if the Browns thought they would have to match scores with Cincy, or if the game was somewhat out-of-reach, you go to Quinn. Almost certainly you go to Quinn if it had been a second INT.
With none of these being the case, Anderson was left in the game and promptly orchestrated back-to-back TD drives and looked good on both. All it took was a little patience.
Dustin Haley: Derek Anderson gets a “ttthhhppppttt” and gets the thumbs-down motion from me. I’ve never been so mad at a QB of ours before. I wanted him pulled. His little hesitation moves are annoying and tell me he’s unsure of what he wants to do.
You can tell he’s panicking back there at times. Not that I’m sure BQ can do much better, but at least he stays poised, typically.
He’s not being pulled simply because of the fact that the Browns committed to him last year. You have to stick with a guy for that reason, at least for a little while. He definitely earned the right to play, no doubt, and benching him may send a bad message to the team.
Without being in the locker room everyday it’s hard to say what’s really going on.
Also, I ask myself, is BQ ready to lead this team? Sure, he has the tools, but inserting him too early, with our depleted roster, and while the team is playing poorly, can be disastrous. As fans, we want results now, but we are ignorant. This is a delicate situation; if we are not careful, we could go from two good QBs to Ken Dorsey. Yikes!
This is the same guy who pulled Charlie Frye after a quarter-and-a-half, right? The fact that he could not make the change, despite Anderson’s poor play, and his constant references to Quinn as “the other guy,” make me wonder if he is looking at things objectively.
Pulling Anderson in no way ushers in the “Brady Quinn Era.” If your starter is struggling, and you have a capable backup, there is no shame in going to the bullpen and seeing if it can get you a win.
I don’t care whom the quarterback is; I just want them to win. But for those first three quarters, Anderson gave them no chance to win and really should have been pulled.
Questionable time management. Poor discipline. Leading the league in penalties. We won't even touch field-goal decisions. Romeo Crennel has come under fire for a number of reasons. What do you think of the job that he has done so far?
Samantha Bunten: I'm not willing to say I think he's been downright awful. I just expected far better. FAR better. Aside from the field-goal fiasco, the thing that really gets me is the time management. Many of the mistakes he has made have been easily avoidable.
It may be time for us to face up to the fact that Crennel may not be cut out to be a head coach. He certainly wouldn't be the first excellent defensive coordinator that couldn't make the transition.
The Coop: Watching the game on TV, I specifically saw Crennel loudly imploring his defense to stay onside before a 4th-and-short. I'd be willing to bet that this isn't the first time he's told his team to be smart and disciplined.
Meanwhile, Braylon Edwards has been the culprit of numerous harmful penalties, such as the unnecessary-roughness penalty. This was the second week in a row a Braylon penalty negated a first down. What is Romeo supposed to do? Bench Braylon? Make him do extra laps after practice?
At some point, shouldn't we hold the players accountable for any of this? Is it too much to ask a guy to not commit a personal foul or to line up correctly?
Without being in any coaches meetings or on the sidelines, I think it's only fair to say Romeo has done as good a job as the record indicates, which is to say, not very good. But it's unfair to suggest he is the main reason for the bad start or that he should be fired.
He should share equal blame with all of the players, who are likewise underperforming. He should also get some credit for the limited success that the Browns have had. It would seem logical that he's heavily involved in, if nothing else, the defensive gameplan, and I think we'd all agree that the defense has performed better than any of us expected.
Still, unfair as it might be for a guy in Romeo's shoes, I think the Browns would ultimately be best-served by hiring a coach with extensive head-coaching experience—after the season is over.
Dustin Haley: Man, somehow I think this question is directed right at me because I’m the only Romeo supporter, um, let me think, yup, anywhere. I can honestly write a whole article on this, and I just may, when I find some extra time. A friend told me that it is, and is going to get, more difficult to defend him. Said friend is absolutely correct, especially this season.
Romeo, Romeo, Romeo. Help me out here, bro.
Discipline is a word that gets thrown around a lot for football teams. Disciplining and “being” disciplined are two very different things, and the latter isn’t necessarily an effect of the prior.
These are grown men, trust me, as a former Marine, they either have it or they don’t. It has passed the point of instilling discipline into the players. Even so, he may be attempting to discipline. He may be handing out fines for penalties, but that isn’t going to guarantee results.
I honestly feel Romeo is a good coach. Respect for the head coach is the No. 1 catalyst towards having a good team. I like his “team” mentality; when things go bad, he doesn’t like to concentrate on any one player publicly. I also like how he is taking all the heat for the poor play; he’s making no excuses. That’s true leadership.
This guy has been around the league a long time. To say he doesn’t know what he’s doing as a head coach is asinine. He knows what it takes to build a successful franchise, but that doesn’t mean he’s able to implement everything.
He knows how to manage a game, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to make every decision a decision you agree with. Point being, there is a method to his madness.
Lastly, before I begin to ramble, I say again, we as fans are ignorant to the inner workings of the organization. We like to think of everything as black and white. We demand results of our team, regardless of situations. Let’s let this play out before we get hasty.
Jeff Smirnoff: As I said before, a win is a win. Staying with that line of thinking, you are what your record is. The Browns are 1-3. They are 1-3 with a lot of penalties, a lack of discipline, and questionable game planning/calling every week.
I like Romeo Crennel. I think he is a good, if not great man, a role model, and a smart football man. I just don’t think he is a good head coach.
One person who seems to get a free pass is GM Phil Savage. Ultimately, he oversees all football operations for the club. What do you think of the job that he has done in assembling the Browns?
Samantha Bunten: If I ran the zoo, Savage is the first person I would fire. The team has given him plenty of time and resources to build a contender. He has made poor decisions hiring staff, questionable trades (ahem, we have NO solid cornerback this year), and exceptionally poor draft choices on more than one occasion.
Obviously, blame cannot be placed on any one person's shoulders, be it those of Savage, Crennel, or whomever. But the GM is responsible for the entire structure of the team, and thus everything and everyone is his responsibility. I think it's time we stop giving Savage a get-out-of-jail-free card.
The Coop: As we discuss the merits of pulling Anderson and starting Quinn, it's important to realize that without Savage, they wouldn't even have Quinn. Through some solid deal-making, Savage got two excellent first-round draft picks (Quinn and Joe Thomas) and arguably a third, if Eric Wright pans out the way he was projected.
Likewise, this past offseason, he strengthened the front seven by acquiring two solid defensive linemen. Though he gave up depth at cornerback, how was he to know that Daven Holly would go down for the year? He gave up draft picks (e.g., min-projects) for "ready-now" players.
Rome wasn't built in a day.
Savage has done a good job in gradually building the team in several different areas. Think about some of the players who were here before Savage. These guys are bagging groceries now and had no business being on an NFL roster.
Championship teams take time to build, and Savage seems to have a clear plan. In Phil We Trust.
Dustin Haley: The NFL GM is part scout, part logistics manager, part spokesperson, and part accountant. Phil Savage is great at all those things. He is regarded as one of the elite talent evaluators, he’s shown he can make moves necessary to better the team, he says all the right things, and to fans' dismay, he can budget.
Phil is the best GM our organization has seen since Ernie Accorsi. It can be argued that our depth issues are because of him, but there aren’t necessarily players that are a good fit available every offseason. Evaluating talent is the most difficult job in the league.
That said, I think Savage has done an excellent job in assembling the Browns to date; however, there is always room for improvement.
Judging by the fact that he is aggressive but doesn’t give in to signing free agents such as Ty Law for budgetary issues obviously states he has a plan than continues for years to come.
This team is by no means Phil and Romeos final team.
Jeff Smirnoff: If I were to give him a grade, it would be C+. He has done a great job of actually giving the Browns a talent pool of players that were missing when they returned under Butch Davis.
He is not afraid to make a move—a la the Brady Quinn draft-day deal, a top free-agent, or the trades to fix the defensive line. He has found a few late-round gems in Brandon McDonald and Lawrence Vickers.
However, when you look at his draft track record as a whole, there are as many hits as misses. The Browns have a lot of injuries this year and have been unable to fill some spots because draft choices like Antonio Perkins, Travis Wilson, and David McMillan were total busts.
You also have to question the Kamerion Wimbley over Haloti Ngata choice as well. Throw in the fact that he ignored the huge void in the secondary for most of the offseason and sat on his hands, and there is some doubt creeping into my mind on his performance.
He oversees all football operations. His record is 6-10, 4-12, 10-6 and 1-3. He will be under the microscope after the season, no matter how the Browns finish up.
At one time, the name Cleveland Browns was associated with one of the great franchises in sports. Since their rebirth in 1999, not so much. Where do you think the franchise stands today, and what do you think the perception of the Browns is outside the fanbase?
Samantha Bunten: Cleveland sports will always be ignored, unappreciated, and underrated by fans and the media outside of Cleveland. Both losing our team and our lack of success since the Browns were reborn in '99 have not helped that.
Cleveland loves the Browns and always will, no matter how badly they play. But we've got a long way to go before we command even a minimal amount of respect as an organization by the football world, as a whole.
The Coop: Living in Pittsburgh, I think I have a pretty good feel for the "perception" of the Browns. They won't be relevant or respected until they can perform as they did last year on a more consistent basis. Until then, they'll be known as the "same old Browns." One playoff appearance and an "almost" appearance every five years isn't going to cut it.
Fortunately, I think Phil Savage IS the right man for the job. The Browns have enough core pieces in place to be a perennial contender. They just need to continue upgrading various positions through the draft and free agency, filling the current holes they have and adding depth.
I do believe Crennel will be fired after the season. So, Savage needs to pick a coach with head-coaching experience. Then the Browns need to hope that, no matter whom it is, their quarterback of the future is on the current roster.
Dustin Haley: History cannot be denied. The Browns will forever be a storied franchise, assuming they stay around. The public obviously perceives us as the laughing stock of the NFL, but who cares? That means nothing to me.
Jeff Smirnoff: The fact that the name and colors stayed in Cleveland after 1995 says a lot. That shows how much the team is woven into the fabric that is the people and city of Cleveland.
If there was quality video of those old Browns teams from the 1950s and early 1960s, then I think they would be as appreciated and talked about as the '60s Packers, '70s Steelers, '80s 49ers, and '90s Cowboys.
Right now, I think the public respects the Cleveland Browns but does not appreciate them because of their poor record since 1999. But winning cures all ills. And true football fans know what the name Cleveland Browns means.
Mike Ditka was asked before the season what Super Bowl matchup would be the most historic in terms of influence on the NFL. His response: Cleveland Browns versus Green Bay Packers.
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