Tag:Phil Savage
Posted on: December 29, 2008 1:44 pm

Black Monday ousts Browns Coach


Back to square one.

No front office...no general manager...no head coach.

About 4 years ago, I remember telling people how Phil Savage will stop at nothing to bring a Super Bowl Championship to Cleveland. I remember looking at Romeo Crennel and seeing a world of potential and greatness. I remember looking at the 2004 incarnation of the Cleveland Browns and thinking this will never happen in this city ever again.

But now we're back to square one.

Granted, this time around there is talent. We have a potential franchise quarterback with several malleable offensive pieces to work with. We have young talented defenders such as Kamerion Wimbley, D'Qwell Jackson, Eric Wright, Brandon McDonald, and Sean Jones who may be able to help jump-start that side of the ball. All hope for a quick turnaround is not lost.

Romeo Crennel will best be remembered for being a great person. You hear it everywhere, but Romeo was a gentle-hearted man who cared about his players and trusted his assistant coaches. While he is still owed close to 8 million dollars from the extension he signed last year, this move is for the better. Crennel will have no trouble finding employment elsewhere - perhaps even back in New England or maybe even as a head coach in another city down the road.

In the end, Savage and Crennel were simply too different. Conflict between the two resulted in a lack of chemistry and an inability to work well together. As reported by the Plain Dealer, here were some of the alleged disagreements that proved to be the iceberg that finally sank the ship:

  • Phil Savage and Romeo Crennel disagreed on the drafting of UNLV linebacker Beau Bell. Crennel reportedly watched tape on Bell and determined he was not the right player for his defense. Phil Savage traded their 2009 5th round pick to move up and get him.
  • Before 2007, Crennel wanted the Browns to retain free safety Brian Russell. Phil let him walk after free agency.
  • This year when Leigh Bodden was traded and Daven Holly was injured, Crennel pushed for the Browns to make a move towards Ty Law. Financial reasons prevented them from doing so.
  • Crennel noticed the Browns would be without Joe Jurevicius for the entire season and asked Savage to bring in free agent wide receivers such as Joe Horn, Terry Glenn, or Keenan McCardell. Savage neglected to do so.
  • Some of Savage's picks were not tailor made to conforming to Romeo's 3-4 defensive scheme. Savage admitted to drafting versatile players over scheme specific players.
  • It was Phil Savage that selected offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski. Chudzinski's offense, an aerial-based attack, stands in stark contrast to Romeo's preferred method focusing on a ball control, ground-based attack.

Category: NFL
Posted on: December 29, 2008 9:03 am
Edited on: December 29, 2008 9:18 am

A Savage Mistake

With every relationship, there eventually comes a time to say goodbye.

For the Browns and General Manager Phil Savage, that time came yesterday.

Call this move whatever you want, but don't call it unexpected. Randy Learner is a man greatly concerned with public image, and Phil Savage happened to give him every reason to pull the trigger. The Staphgate '08 controversy and the Buffalo e-mail incident compounded with the team's collapse this season all but secured his departure.

Despite this you wonder: was this the right move for the Browns?

Of course not.

In a season marred with futility and incompetency, Randy Learner began this offseason with just that. Firing Phil Savage was a move with Learner's fingerprints all over it. Like his former employee, Learner seems to only concern himself with how people perceive him as an owner. Retaining a general manager and head coaching tandem after such a season would have taken resolve and commitment to building a winning football program. In a Browns' Town that lives week to week with this organization, it would be nearly impossible to do so without being viewed in a negative light.

In this business, perception is reality. On the surface the Browns are the 5th worst team in the NFL. On the surface they are a team headed in the wrong direction after barely missing the playoffs in 2007. On the surface, Phil Savage is an arrogant man who put together a disappointing football program.

All of these things are simply not true.

Savage made the correct moves in assembling the 2008 Browns. The offensive unit remained in tact while the defense improved with the additions of Shaun Rogers and Corey Williams. The young defensive back tandem of Eric Wright and Brandon McDonald started off shaky, but they finished strong and Cleveland now may have found its franchise cornerbacks because of it. People questioned Savage as to whether keeping two capable quarterbacks was a good decision. The Browns not only lost them both, but a third as well.

Look, I'm not saying Phil Savage was the perfect manger. Public relations management is part of his job, and he proved himself irresponsible to that regard. What I am saying is Savage was a great General Manager - balancing short and long term gains in bringing a winner to Cleveland. His creative ability to balance free agency and the draft proved highly innovative, and had the Browns moving in the right direction. His scouting ability to assess and evaluate professional talent ranks in the upper echelon of GMs. His vision and decision making ability gave Browns fans hope for a better future.

It's a shame this move was made.

"Go turn around Detroit - we'll miss you."
Posted on: November 25, 2008 3:36 pm
Edited on: November 25, 2008 3:58 pm

Randy Learner Speaks Up

Cleveland Browns owner Randy Learner addressed some of his concerns regarding Phil Savage, Romeo Crennel, and the state of the team.

Learner said many interesting things - some good and some bad. Here are his statements and the possible implications behind their meanings...

Learner: "I will take issues and concerns and criticisms very seriously and think them through and evaluate them in January."

Analysis: Whose issues, concerns and criticisms is Learner referring to? The fans. Randy Learner cares deeply what the fans think. Learner isn't dumb. He is in the business of making money, and the Cleveland Browns fans are the ones that fuel that engine. All issues relating to the Browns will be dealt with in January, so Romeo Crennel and Phil Savage will keep their jobs until the season is over.

Learner: "I think that Phil recruits as aggressively as anybody could ask a guy to do and as thoroughly as anybody could ask a guy to do. I think we've been a beneficiary of those skills and that determination and commitment."

Analysis: Phil Savage's job will most likely be secure at the end of the season. Learner expressed his understanding of Savage's tremendous hard work and attributes as a general manager. Savage has done a good job putting this team together, and Learner's compliment seems to indicate Savage is not part of the problem. The use of the word "commitment" is key in suggesting the Browns will retain Phil Savage.

Learner: "I care about the team."

Analysis: "I care about the money."

Learner: "When I reflect on that concern and criticism, it's a byproduct of the management approach I've chosen. If you're going to give people authority and hold them responsible and ultimately accountable for their performance, you've got to get out of the way. Especially when they have unique skills you don't have like picking players and coaching."

Analysis: We are fortunate as Browns fans to have an owner who understands exactly what his role is in the organization. Learner is right - he doesn't have the unique skills of picking players or coaching the team. Leaving the football to the football people is exactly what the owner of any NFL team should do. Learner's reference to accountability of performance is a direct shot at Romeo Crennel. Unlike Savage, Crennel's performance is measured by something as tangible as a win/loss record. As many have already imagined, Romeo Crennel is in deep trouble.

Learner: I'm not prepared to throw in the towel at 46 and suggest I can't get the job done. On the other hand, I don't want to live in some delusional bubble somewhere."

Analysis: Learner will continue to do his best to bring a championship to the Browns. The team isn't going anywhere. The reference to the delusional bubble means Learner has an idea of what's being said about his football team as well as his approach as a "hands off" owner.

Learner: Sunday's home loss to the Texans was "sickening"

Analysis: Yikes! That's certainly a strong choice of words for such an anemic offensive output. Learner could be referencing Crennel's decision to bench Brady Quinn and play Derek Anderson in the fourth quarter. There has been speculation Learner has always liked Quinn - and played a role in Quinn's promotion as a starter. If this is the case, Romeo Crennel may be already be gone.

Learner: "What happened? How do you go 10-6, play good football, have the NFL generally excited, get six prime-time appearances...how does that happen and you struggle this way?"

Analysis: Randy Learner has the football intelligence of a casual fan. He is only able see the result of what has happened, and most likely will make decisions based off that. From his point of view it's easy to understand where he's coming from. The Browns won 10 games, improved along the defensive line (which he can clearly see with Shaun Rogers' play), and seemed likely to improve once more. What Learner does not understand is the Browns played a soft schedule last year, fell victim to injuries, and played a significantly more difficult schedule this year.

Learner expressed concern with the credibility issues that arose from the e-mail and Winslow situations, as well as the organization's image on a national scale.

Analysis: Randy cares about public perception more than anything else. His previous comment about the NFL being "generally excited" and getting "six prime-time appearances" reaffirm that. Public opinion and perception indicated the Browns should start Brady Quinn and look what happened. Now, public perception states the Browns should fire Savage and Crennel. Sadly, I can already see whom Learner may target...

I'm glad Randy Learner spoke up regarding the state of his franchise. While I disagree with some of the sentiment he echoed, I do appreciate him being forthright with the media. If I had to make a prediction on what this means for Browns' management, I'd imagine...

Phil Savage has a 70% chance of staying in 2009.
Romeo Crennel has an 15% chance of staying in 2009.

...and for what it's worth, Bill Cowher has a 30% chance of coming to the Browns in 2009.
Posted on: October 22, 2008 8:35 pm


There's this Erie feeling surrounding the Cleveland Browns right now.

Start off with a controversial player who's credibility has been called into question.
Next, add a head coach whose happy and complacent nature feels unhuman at times.
Finally there's the GM. A pale-faced man who's bright blue eyes and straight talk seem make many feel uncomfortable.

GM Phil Savage and Romeo Crennel have never given Browns fans reason not to trust them until now. Kellen Winslow said, "it was the organization who wanted to keep it private."

Two days later, Romeo Crennel tells us "it was a mutual decision made by Kellen and the organization."

There's even more contradiction.

Mary Kay Cabot recalls Jamal Lewis attempting to talk Kellen out of going public with his concerns. Kellen clearly had time to clear his head and make the rational decision of going public with his comments.

Romeo Crennel tells the media that Kellen is "a young man who let the heat of the moment cloud his decision making."

Big Brother Savage, usually forthcoming about talking with the media, issued a fluffy press statement - the first time he's done that in years.

Creepy huh?

There has to be more to this than we're seeing...
(Don't censor this blog!)
Posted on: October 20, 2008 11:55 am
Edited on: October 20, 2008 1:14 pm

Staphgate '08: Winslow vs. Savage

If you haven't read Mary Kay Cabot's full story, it can be found here: http://www.cleveland.com/browns/ind

I fear the worst for the Cleveland Browns organization. Kellen Winslow revealed in an interview last night that he feels neglected by Phil Savage. While no official report has been released by Savage or Crennel, we will certainly know more after their press conference.

Kellen was drafted by the Browns to make an impact in the passing game from the tight end position. He has done that for the most part, and I'd hate to see him go. Mary Kat mentioned Winslow contemplated going public and asking for a trade a week ago at the trade deadline. This would have been a huge story, except the timing and judgment the disgruntled tight end used protected the organization from a media circus.

I'd like to see Phil Savage step us and give us some clarification as to exactly what is going on. Cabot mentions she and others heard parts of a headed conversation between Winslow and Savage that took place in the locker room after the game. Another huge detail mentioned the Browns telling Winslow to stay away from the facilities in Berea - as if there may be something there causing him to be at risk.

I'm very curious to the nature of these staph infections. We've seen this before with Joe Jurevicius, Braylon Edwards, Kellen Winslow, LeCharles Bentley, and other players. It seems the Browns have had it the worst of all NFL teams - and this surfacing story may lead to something else.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com