Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Getting What You Need

It's said that the two worst things in the world are not getting what you want and getting what you want. Now that overmatched offensive coordinator Maurice Carthon has officially been shown the exit door we all lose a convenient whipping post.

But before we leave this topic, much is to be said about the exit and none of it good. If Head Coach Romeo Crennel is feeling any job insecurity today, and he should, it's understandable. According to Browns play-by-play man Jim Donovan (who also serves as sports director of WKYC-TV), the decision to dump Carthon was made by owner Randy Lerner and General Manager Phil Savage. As Tony Grossi of the Plain Dealer observed, Crennel was unable to pull the trigger. That doesn't speak well on a number of fronts.

It demonstrates that Crennel has the inability to separate what's best for the team and the franchise from what's best for him personally. Clearly Carthon and Crennel are friends. But Crennel's inability to see past his loyalty to Carthon and see, instead, a lockerroom full of disgruntled players who are close to packing it in for the season underscores that Crennel, too, is overmatched in his current job.

Bud Shaw wrote in today's Plain Dealer that Crennel made the strongest argument in yesterday's press conference for dumping Carthon (although that wasn't the topic) by observing that there was still 10 weeks of football to play. But if Crennel had done this sooner, like during the bye week when the team had nearly two weeks to adjust to the coaching change, there would have been 11 weeks of football to play.

In our view, Crennel did indeed make the strongest argument for dumping Carthon during yesterday's press conference but not necessarily in the way Shaw suggests. Crennel closed his press conference yesterday by saying, with respect to Carthon, that "things can always change in football, but I'm staying with Maurice right now." This was all Lerner and Savage needed to hear to become convinced that Crennel had absolutely no intention of replacing Carthon voluntarily despite the further regression witnessed on Sunday. Lerner and Savage had to act and it's doubtful that the discussion among the three was pleasant.

Crennel has a military background so it's unlikely that he'll ever go public about what took place when he was informed that Carthon had to go. And like the good soldier, he cut the cord himself. But the relationship between GM and Head Coach will be forever strained and it's doubtful that it can be repaired. Remember, Savage let Crennel have his way by shipping quarterback Trent Dilfer after he sparred with Carthon. That cost the Browns an experienced back-up, a necessity all fans were reminded of when Charlie Frye went off the field briefly on Sunday.

We doubt that ultimately Crennel can survive. His abject lack of leadership during this crisis was fully on display for all to see. Lop onto that a newly strained relationship with both the owner and the GM and you have a volatile recipe that strongly suggests that the Browns will be looking, again, for a new head coach this offseason.

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