Browns Fans, Where Do We Go from Here?
That's the question plaguing pretty much every Cleveland Browns fan right now.
The sad part is how early we find ourselves asking it.
Earlier this year, Phil Savage was wheeling and dealing through the free-agent market to fill holes with some decent talent, Romeo Crennel was getting a contract extension, and multiple sports analysts were labeling us as this year's "sexy pick."
This week, we watched our defense give up two second-half leads in four days, brought in a different quarterback only to see the same result, and are once again the butt of many jokes in the NFL.
So begins another bitterly cold winter along the shores of Lake Erie, made only colder by the frigid display on the field of Cleveland Browns Stadium.
The question now is what will be done in the oncoming offseason, which is sure to be filled with some interesting moves?
Several topics will be covered, here are just some that will be no doubt discussed.
Barring any severe drop-offs, Brady Quinn has rightfully taken the throne he's waited a year and a half to get to. If Thursday night is a sign of what we may expect, he could hopefully be here a while.
While Quinn will get just seven more games to show his ability, we'll learn more about him in those seven games than we did about Derek Anderson all last season.
The reason is the competition. Anderson looked great last year, but look at the teams he played. Miami and St. Louis took months to win a game, Baltimore and New York had off years, and the Bengals (he lost to them too) were a mess. Let's not forget he also lost to the ever-so-awful Raiders and a less-than-average Cardinals team.
Oh yeah, and that Pittsburgh team.
All of these teams will undoubtedly send the house against the relatively untested sophomore QB, and if Quinn plays well throughout all of this, we'd have better reason to be hopeful of finally having some stability at quarterback.
These final seven games will give us a pretty clear picture of our QB of the future.
Anderson, however, is likely on his way out.
Phil Savage claims he wants to keep both, but with how depleted the Browns have looked in multiple areas, Anderson is probably trade bait. His value is pretty weak these days, but his arm-strength may attract a coach who's team is shallow on quarterbacks (Gus Frerotte is no franchise QB, and the same can be said for Tyler Thigpen). At best, they could get a couple draft picks, but that may be about it.
The staph infection episode has convinced many that the self-proclaimed "Soldier" is on the same bus as D.A.
While the Browns are 2-0 without Winslow this year, Thursday night may have added some hesitation to his departure.
K2 had a breakout game against Denver and was clearly one of Quinn's favorite targets of the night because of his dip-and-dunk style quarterbacking. Whether or not this affects his future in Cleveland cannot yet be determined, and while his mistakes ended up costing them a win, his postgame comments made it seem pretty obvious that he wants to win for this team.
This may come down to his relationship with Savage.
To me, it seems like Winslow's future is up to Savage and Savage alone. If he feels the tight end is worth the money, he'll stay. If he's grown tired of Winslow's antics, he's gone.
The only mystery to this scenario is how long it'll play out.
Smart money says Romeo Crennel is out.
And I think Romeo knows it.
Just listen to his recent press conferences as opposed to earlier this year. He sounds worn down and, if not throwing in the towel, at least reaching for it.
His benching of Anderson also hints to the possibility of an oncoming vacation.
He's backed D.A. the entire season, through the rough times and that one good time. Yet, the way he yanked Anderson just screams, "Ah, who cares, I'll be gone soon anyways."
The question is, if Crennel goes, who comes in.
One article claimed that a front-runner would be Iowa Head Coach Kirk Ferentz because of his close ties to Savage.
I don't even need to look at Ferentz's statistics to think this is a bad idea.
The reason is this: How well have the Browns done with their recent onslaught of first-time NFL head coaches?
Crennel, Butch Davis, Chris Palmer, and even Bill Belichick were all first-timers at the top spot. And, suffice for Belichick and Davis' playoff appearances (where it was more falling into the playoffs than waltzing in), they've all been failures.
This is a young team, and a young team doesn't need a coach. It needs a leader.
They need someone to get in their face after a big drop (not that I'm hinting to anyone specific).
A young team needs a coach that won't just work on the issues at practice (a favorite band-aid of RAC), but instead challenge the players, telling them, "If you can't do it, I'll find someone who can."
The best candidate for this is the man Cleveland fans are already dreaming of: Bill Cowher.
While I would fully endorse this idea, the problem is whether or not Randy Lerner will.
Cowher will undoubtedly clean house, which will send Savage job hunting and put "The Chin" in charge of the majority of operations.
Lerner tried this with Butch Davis, and then Davis went and drafted Courtney Brown, Gerard "Big Money" Warren, and a long-snapper (the long-snapper was recent Pro Bowler Ryan Pontbriand, but it's still a position you don't waste a draft pick on).
Lerner didn't like having a football czar before, and that's what he'd get with Cowher.
But honestly, Cowher has proven that he can take that role.
And as much as I appreciate Phil Savage's attempts to make the Browns relevant again, it just isn't paying off the way we thought it would (Corey Williams' stat sheet is minimal and I'm not a big fan of our game-to-game rental of Donte Stallworth's services).
If Cowher shows interest, I think the risk is worth the reward.
And, if the move to Quinn was inspired by the fans, this Web site should be golden.
About the bobbling receiver
Some fans want Braylon Edwards out. I'm going to have to disagree.
Yes, this year he's really—and I'll try to be clever here—dropped the ball.
But last year (and parts of this year) he showed that, when he does hold onto the ball, he can bring points.
Edwards' issues could relate to coaching.
Crennel always approaches questions about his No. 1 receiver's drops by saying that, "we'll try and coach him through it."
If we're basing Crennel's abilities on that alone, he'll be fired the day after the season ends, maybe even during the last game.
Yes, Braylon has been up and down, but wait to see what happens to the coach before we make a call on whether or not he should stay.
Braylon needs a coach who's going to come after him, challenge his abilities, and check his ego at the door. And that person shouldn't have to be Jamal Lewis.
Several moves need to be made this coming January, and some need to be drastic.
And it's not just because the fans are angry.
It's because, when analysts deem a season as "hopeful," and we have a roster full of people that can merit that claim, it shouldn't implode in front of us.
We've seen that routine, and frankly, it's been overplayed.
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