Posted on: January 14, 2010 9:00 pm
Edited on: January 15, 2010 10:29 am
The year was 1997.
The Spice Girls were still spicy, Family Matters still mattered, and every guy I knew couldn't stop talking about Kate Winslet - whose tastefully displayed tatas made the Titanic one of the highest grossing films in box office history. We were Mmmbopping with Hanson while Monica Lewinsky bopped on something else. The Cleveland Browns had turned black in Baltimore and Brett Favre stood atop the football universe (some things never change).
Despite all of the history and nostalgia , 1997 was an important year for several NFL franchises, but none moreso than the Kansas City Chiefs.
Kansas City was home to one of, if not the most complete teams in NFL history. Will Shields and Rich Gannon along with Donnie Edwards and Derrick Thomas lead the Chiefs to a 13-3 record and homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. Kansas City eventually lost to the Super Bowl Champion Denver Broncos, 10-14, a loss which began a run of misery one of the league's most beloved franchises.
The Chiefs would hover around .500 and miss the playoffs in each of the following three years.
Chiefs fans today can draw on 1997 as a marquee year for their franchise. Even though what they had cooking in Arrowhead was special, it was a recipe brewing in the Big Apple by the Big Tuna which laid the foundation for the Chiefs you see today.
Simply put, 1997 New York Jets were the 2009 Kansas City Chiefs.
Chiefs GM Scott Pioli worked as director of pro personnel for the 1997 Jets. Chiefs head coach Todd Haley was only concerned with coaching Jet receivers like Dedric Ward, Kansas City's current wide receivers coach. Likewise, assistant head coach Maurice Carton coached running backs and Chiefs wide receivers coach Richie Anderson was a running back.
This past week the Chiefs added two more former Jets to their coaching staff in Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel. Weis held the same position with the Jets thirteen years ago while Crennel coached the defensive line. For Crennel, the connection to the 1997 Jets played a large part in his decision to join Todd Haley's staff.
"It is good to be back around those guys," Crennel said of his return.
"On the offensive side of the ball I have worked with Bill Muir, Maurice Carthon, Richie Anderson, and Charlie Weis. With Todd (Haley) here, I know Scott (Pioli) and Chris Caminiti in administration and Dave Price, the trainer. All of that was important in my decision to come here and try to help build the program."
Now the pieces for the program are in place, results must follow.
Kansas City's coordinators combine for over 59 years of experience coaching at the professional and collegiate levels. General manager Scott Pioli has won multiple championships with the Patriots and has had a full year of work on the roster. The Pioli, Weis, and Crennel tandem has won Super Bowls with the Patriots, so there will be tremendous pressure on Haley to immediately produce results.
Thanks to a team of the past, the future looks bright in Kansas City. As long as the Chiefs stay healthy and productive, Todd Haley will give fans reason to party like it's 2010.
Or perhaps like it's 1997.
Posted on: December 29, 2008 1:44 pm
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:
Posted on: December 12, 2008 2:16 am
Edited on: December 12, 2008 2:59 am
By now, you'd be hard-pressed to find a Browns fan who hasn't called for Romeo Crennel's immediate removal as head coach of the Cleveland Browns. With all the speculation floating around nowadays, it seems like a forgone conclusion a coaching change will be made.
This begs the question: would the Browns be justified in firing Romeo Crennel after this season?
On the surface, Crennel does not possess the tangible characteristics of a winning football coach. In his four year tenure with the Browns, Romeo has guided the Browns to a cumulative 23-37 (.383%) record. The Browns have been inconsistent since his arrival, and they failed to establish an identity on both sides of the ball. Crennel's teams have yet to defeat the hated Pittsburgh Steelers, and have posted a 4-18 (.182%) mark against the AFC North. On record alone, it is difficult to justify retaining such a head coach.
As with everything in life, there is more than meets the eye.
The first two years of Romeo's stay in Cleveland were spent installing his system and coaching staff. The previous regime left Crennel a roster void of talent and direction. Phil Savage and Romeo Crennel had little to work with and were asked to be competitive against established division rivals who have had years to perfect their respective schemes.
When GM Phil Savage and Romeo Crennel arrived in Cleveland, Savage asked Clevelanders to be patient with the Browns. He estimated it would take a full three years to make the change from pretender to contender. Between changing the Cleveland Browns' culture, removing ineffective players, and converting to a 3-4 scheme, it would be extremely difficult to evaluate Crennel's prowess in his first two years as Cleveland Browns' head coach.
The third year was definitely a charm.
While falling short of the postseason, the 2007 Cleveland Browns exceeded expectations and won 10 games - 6 more than the year before. Cleveland established a vertical passing attack all the while coining the phrase "tall ball" along the way. True to what Savage and Crennel said, the Browns had turned into a respectable team at the end of their third year.
This season has been particularly frustrating for the Browns and their fans, as the hope surrounding the team fell to the ground faster than a completion through Braylon Edwards' hands. Injuries ravished Cleveland's offense and defense. Inconsistency from those healthy enough to participate cost the team close victories. The team's strength of schedule (.595) was easily the most difficult in recent memory. Despite this, 4 of their 9 losses were by 4 points or fewer. This could easily be an 8-5 football team.
Cleveland Browns TE Kellen Winslow has symbolized everything wrong
with the 2008 Browns: health, inconsistency, and controversy.
So that brings us to Romeo Crennel. Crennel has been criticized for everything from his wins to his waistline. There are several misconceptions about the current Cleveland coach, and it's only fair to address them.
Myth #1: Romeo Crennel is a poor game manager.
False. As reported by the Plain Dealer's Toni Grossi, so much of what we see on gameday is not directly related to Romeo Crennel. The timeouts for example are the responsibility of T.J. McCreight - the Browns' Director of Player Personnel. McCreight is the man directly in Romeo's headset, whispering sweet timeout talk into his ear. Crennel only handles situational management. Kicking field goals and attempting 4th down conversions, for example, are his responsibilities alone.
Myth #2: Romeo Crennel never challenges plays.
False. Like many coaches in the NFL, Romeo Crennel leaves the decision to challenge plays up to his coaching team in the booth. Since they have the luxury of watching instant replays, they give Romeo the green light on which plays to challenge.
Myth #3: Romeo Crennel isn't fiery enough!
False. During Shaun Smith's weekly appearance on The Browns' Redzone, he clarified this misconception. Smith said Romeo Crennel often yells behind closed doors in addition to lecturing along the sidelines on gameday. Since the cameras are primarily focused on the game action, it is impossible to monitor Romeo's demeanor throughout the course of the game. Browns Beat Reporter Mary Kay Cabot also agreed - professing she too has noticed Crennel verbally reprimand players. Smith said since fans only see Crennel on a limited basis, they have developed a misconception about not only him as a coach, but how he handles players in general.
Cleveland Browns fans have been tormented for the past 20 years with bad football. After a surprise 2007 season, the need for instant gratification is at an all-time high. Due to extenuating circumstances, it may fair to write the season off and give Romeo Crennel a fair shot at redemption with the players and scheme he and Phil Savage put in place.
Posted on: November 30, 2008 4:22 pm
Edited on: November 30, 2008 4:42 pm
Have you ever finished watching a football game and had a sinking feeling in your stomach? That was exactly how I felt after watching the Cleveland Browns squander an opportunity to salvage an embarrassment of a season.
The Colts were held in check by a great gameplan and some timely plays made by defenders. There was no reason for the Browns to lose this home game, but they did. The loss drops the Brownies to 4-8, officially making us one of the worst teams in the AFC.
This was pathetic.
You know what? I want every Browns fan reading this to break out the brown paper bags, because this team is embarrassing. Quite frankly I’m disgusted to be a Browns fan. There are so many things wrong with the team that I don't even know where to begin. Maybe if I just close my eyes, this will all go away...
Posted on: November 25, 2008 3:36 pm
Edited on: November 25, 2008 3:58 pm
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: November 23, 2008 5:28 pm
Edited on: November 23, 2008 9:03 pm
Ahh yes, Thanksgiving. It is the season for family, generosity, and celebrating the past. The game between the Houston Texans and the Cleveland Browns provided a perfect microcosm of the holiday - and I can't help but feel all warm and fuzzy inside because of it.
For two out of division teams, the Browns are so close they should be considered relatives. The two teams have exchanged so much personnel over the last few seasons. On the Browns, Shantee Orr, Robaire Smith, and offensive line coach Steve Marshall have all come from the Texans. Houston has former Browns Kevin Bentley, Chaun Thompson, and Andre Davis all starting on their roster.
The Texans are notoriously generous - ranking dead last in turnover differential at -13. Their defense has allowed a charitable 28.7 points per game heading into Cleveland. Sage Rosenfels and the Texans desperately tried to give this game away with two costly turnovers. Despite that show of kindness, it was the hospitable Browns who outdid them in the end - turning the ball over 5 times in one game.
Celebrating the Past
Cleveland honored Browns teams of years past with an anemic offensive performance and a sickeningly soft defense. Their play today was so nostalgic of the expansion Browns team, I almost shed a tear. The Texans also did their best honoring their sub-.500 ancestors, however they fell short and won the game.
The quarterback switch at the end of the third quarter sealed Romeo Crennel's fate as Browns' Head Coach. Knowing what I do about this organization, he will most likely be fired in a couple days. It's unfortunate, but someone has to take responsibility for the disappointing season which started off so promising.
Maybe change like this will be good for the team. As of now, the Cleveland Browns are a mess of a football team, and we desperately need someone to come in and clean this up.
Posted on: November 9, 2008 8:00 pm
Edited on: November 14, 2008 5:52 pm
My Fellow Browns fans,
Over the past few weeks, there has been a growing sentiment within this fanbase to see Coach Crennel fired and replaced by former Steelers' coach Bill Cowher. This pro-Cowher movement is not only detrimental to the team, but it is degrading to our organization and needs to stop now.
There are two sides to this fundamentally flawed idea: Cowher must come and Romeo must go. In order to fully address the matter, I will attempt to explain the flawed logic running through both sides of the argument.
Romeo Must Go
As with any underachieving team, the head coach is the first person considered in the evaluation process. The 3-6 Browns failed to live up to this year's lofty expectations, and Crennel Bears the brunt of the responsibility for that. The NFL is all about production, and it's hard to justify retaining a coach who has been unsuccessful in 3 of the last 4 years. Despite what statistics and percentages say, they undoubtedly fail to tell the whole story about Romeo Crennel.
Romeo Crennel is a great head coach. His players believe in him and he has proven capable in getting the most out of this group. Fans have criticized Crennel for lacking passion and a "fiery disposition." If the Browns can remain as competitive as they have in recent weeks, I'll gladly take Crennel's stoic approach to any other coaches' method of motivation.
Along with Crennel's consistent approach, what the Cleveland Browns need at this critical stage of their development is continuity. With a promising young quarterback accompanied by a talented young defense, it becomes necessary to maintain the same group of coaches together to expediate growth at all positions. Changing schemes is taxing - especially on young players struggling to learn the system. By keeping the head coach in place, the Browns would subsequently keep their assistent and position coaches in place - maintaining the continuity so vital to the development of young talent.
Cowher Must Come
My appeal is one of pride and respect. Bringing in a coach who is the embodiment of all things Pittsburgh is the absolute last thing you want to see for the Cleveland Browns. How would it look on our organization if we turn to our most hated rival to become the face of this franchise? Additionally, how much pride would Browns' have in their team seeing Cowher schmooze it up with Steelers any time the two teams play?
Contrary to most, I have pride in this history and tradition of the Browns' franchise. The way Cowher came to be what he is was through years as the head coach in Pittsburgh. Coaches and players have had time to fine-tune their technique and knowledge within a system, and that is what made the Steelers into what they are today. For the Browns, it is necessary to have that same level of stability to keep this franchise heading in the right direction.
There are ramifications of Cowher coming to Cleveland. Offensive coach Rob Chudzinski is one of the most highly regarded young offensive minds in the NFL. Last year Chudzinski interviewed and turned down an offer from Baltimore to take over as head coach. With at least 4 coaching openings in the National Football League, it would put a tremendous amount of strain on Chudzinski - who certainly would be able to find a situation to his liking. Retaining Crennel would likely keep Chudzinski with the Browns - as the situation would be similar to what kept him here in the first place.
A plane uses 70% of its fuel while taking off. After years lying in a dormant state, the runway has cleared and this team is finally ready to take flight. It took a long time to get here, so why stop the plane and change pilots now ? The system is in place. The talent is there. The coaches are ready. All the Browns need to do is maintain their composure, finish the rest of this season, and get ready for an exciting ride 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.
There has to be more to this than we're seeing...
(Don't censor this blog!)