The Romeo Crennel Era in Cleveland: 15 Minutes of Joy, Four Years of Pain

Tim Bielik@bielik_timSenior Analyst IMay 4, 2009

ORCHARD PARK - NOVEMBER 17:  Head coach Romeo Crennel of the Cleveland Browns watches the action during the game against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium on November 17, 2008 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by: Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

After Romeo Crennel was hired in 2005, many Browns fans were excited that, finally, their team would return to glory. It did, for a few weeks in 2007.

The rest of the four-year era was marked by poor decisions and non-sensical gameplans.

In addition, personnel debacles were a staple of a career in which he finished his four years at 24-40.

One of the most alarming traits of Crennel was that his training camps were more like a country club, and thus his team came out of the gates every year looking unprepared. Crennel never won a week one game in his four years as Browns coach.

In addition, a lack of true conditioning in training camp may have possibly, but not definitely, led to the swarm of injuries the team dealt with.

His system was one of accountability rather than using discipline. His players appeared unfocused and unmotivated as time went on.

By the end of each season, his team lost its focus, and the locker room turned into hailstorms of controversy.

Among the locker room battles was a dispute on the sidelines in 2006 between Braylon Edwards and then-QB Charlie Frye.

More recently, last season DL Shaun Smith reportedly punched QB Brady Quinn in the eye.

Many fans felt that Crennel had lost the respect and motivation of his players, and given his methods, who could blame them?

Although 2007 was somewhat of a success, looking beyond the scope of the record tells some awful truths.

The year began with the infamous coin flip between Frye and Derek Anderson to determine who would start a preseason game.

He believed that both players were even in their production, but after week one, Frye was sent to Seattle, and Anderson became the starter.

Another bump in the road was the rematch against the Steelers, where the Browns raced off to a 21-6 start against their archrivals. Then, the Steelers made a comeback to eventually win the game 31-28.

In the process, during a Browns' challenge which was lost, Crennel called a second time out, hampering their chances of a successful final drive.

The Browns ended up losing on a missed 53-yard field goal by Phil Dawson.

They went 10-6, but missed the playoffs after a blunder in Cincinnati where the gameplan didn't take into account tremendous winds, which should've promoted the ground game of Jamal Lewis.

Instead, the Browns tried to throw their way to victory, and failed.

Whether it was the schedule or lack of great coaching, Cleveland won back-to-back games only once in 2008.

Now with Crennel gone, Browns fans can (for now) breathe a sigh of relief. Because the new coach, Eric Mangini, seems to get something all Browns fans know:

The Browns are a prestigious franchise with a proud tradition and history. The brown and orange means something special.

And the players need to remember that not only are they playing for their city, a city of blue-collar and loyal fans. They are playing for the players that have worn the jersey before and for the three years when the Browns didn't exist.

They are playing for Brownstown, because no matter what anyone says, Cleveland will always be Brownstown.

It's good that Mangini understands, and if he can inject life into the franchise, they might soon return to glory.


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