Monday, November 27, 2006

Questions and More Questions

It's probably appropriate to give some credit to the Cleveland Browns and their webmaster for allowing their staff writer, Jeff Walcoff, to write somewhat objectively about yesterday's disastrous display against the mediocre Cincinnati Bengals.

But for whatever credit the Browns and Walcoff deserve, the story published raises many more questions than it answers. Head coach Romeo Crennel proclaims, defiantly, that his team won't quit with five games left. That's true, but only technically. One has to actually start something to quit and there was no point in yesterday's game where it looked like the team actually came to play. So we ask, what is their to quit?

On a related note, Crennel claims that his team is made up of competitors and that's their nature. As a description of professional athletes, Crennel's statement is accurate. But it's not as if the Browns players have any choice but to compete in the last five games. The tenure of a typical NFL player is so short and the recycling of players so prevalent, taking the field without at least the intention of demonstrating that you belong in the league is a cardinal sin. It's just not done. So we ask, the players are competitors, what does that prove?

Crennel felt the display was embarrassing and was the fault of many not few. Hard to disagree there, but to that we'd add "unprofessional." In fact, the lack of professionalism so permeated yesterday's performance that before anyone starts dishing out individual blame, one must look to the top first and foremost. The missed assignments on the offensive line and by the running backs was on full display. That's embarrassing. But the lack of effort, the lack of passion, and the fighting on the sidelines was unprofessional. Crennel says he'll deal with it "in house." So we ask, what will that accomplish?

The fact is, this team is a whirling set of questions without any easy or definitive answers. The Browns, as currently configured, lack talent, depth, character, passion and professionalism. This is not a situation that gets turned around in a hurry. And if none of this actually developed under Crennel's watch, he's allowed it to both grow and fester.

GM Phil Savage has tacitly and repeatedly acknowledged these shortcomings and has counseled patience. And to that we ask, what's our choice?

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