Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Half and Half

Your perspective on the news coming out of Berea yesterday really depends on whether you are a half-full or half-empty kind of person. Cleveland Browns Head Coach Romeo Crennel is clearly in the former, given the tenor of his remarks.

Crennel told the assembled media at his weekly press conference that upon further review, no major overhauls on the offensive side of the ball are needed. Instead, we're told that this offensively-bankrupt squad needs a little tinkering. Yea, just like George Bush's foreign policy needs a little tinkering.

And that tinkering? Well, according to Crennel, he's going to start getting more involved in the offense. Crennel said he'll start attending the offensive game planning meetings during the week and may even call a play or two on the sidelines. And this is supposed to make Browns fans feel better?

See, this is where the half-full and half-empty part comes in. If you're a half-full kind of person, it's a good thing that Crennel is starting to realize, and acknowledge publicly, that maybe, just maybe, inept Offensive Coordinator Maurice Carthon needs a little help.

But if you're a half-empty kind of person, like most Cleveland fans have been conditioned to be, Crennel's comments have to send chills. In short order, Crennel has admitted that though he's head coach, to this point he's basically ignored fully one-third of the team. Whether this is a case of coaching negligence or incompetence is rather hard to say. But it's scary either way.

Crennel, in his bid to retake some the reigns he's foolishly discarded, told the media that the team needed to focus first on what it does well, "then maybe add pizazz to it." Roughly translated, no more fullback options passes from Lawrence Vickers. But more to the point, this is Crennel's admission that, as we've said repeatedly, Carthon is all about plays and not about plans. There is no cohesiveness to his game plan. Every Sunday it seems cobbled together on the fly. The Browns never seem to be trying to establish anything and Carthon seems to spend most of his time looking at his card trying to find a magic play.

At the professional level, offenses tend to be more mundane, by design. The players on defense, even on bad teams, run faster and tackle better than their counterparts in college. That's why they're in the pros. Thus, what might work for Ohio State isn't as likely to work for the Browns or any other team for that matter. The truly good offenses in the NFL got that way by designing a system and executing it. They know their strengths and basically challenge their opponents to stop them. With the Browns, there is no identity. They have a thousand yard rusher in Reuben Droughns but rarely make any attempt to establish a running game. They have a gifted tight end but struggle to find ways to get him the ball, particularly early in games. But rather than exploit their limited advantages, they instead abandon their fastball repeatedly in favor of a change up, and frankly, they don't have a good change up.

Crennel is fond of saying, week after week, that the buck stops at his desk. It's fair, then, to hold him completely accountable for the fact that thus far he's abdicated a significant share of his duties and obligations to someone as overmatched as Carthon. With that, we're taking Carthon completely off the hook. If this head coach is dumb enough to give Carthon the keys to car, it's hard to blame Carthon for driving it off the road. But a few more wrecks and Crennel won't have to worry about giving away the keys. Phil Savage will mercifully take them away.

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