Tag:situational management
Posted on: October 19, 2008 9:15 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2008 11:44 pm

Week 7: Has the Slipper Been Shattered?

Cinderella 2: The 2008 Cleveland Browns' Story
Act 2, Scene ii
by: Romeo Crennel and the Dawgs

Derek Anderson as "Mr. Hyde"
Jamal Lewis as himself
Braylon Edwards as "Jim Abbott"
Dave Zastudil as "The Man With the Golden Toe"
Eric Wright as "The Playmaker"
Cleveland Browns fans as "The Dawgs"

Jason Campbell as "Eli Manning cerca 2007"
Clinton Portis as "Slash"
Mike Sellers as "The Juggernaut"
Carlos Rogers as "Lawrence Taylor"
Antwaan Randle El as "Smurf #1"
Santana Moss as "Smurf #2"

After a stunning upset of last year's Super Bowl champions, the Cleveland Browns arrived at Fed Ex Field to take on the Washington Redskins. The underdawg Browns came into the game fairly healthy and looking to build upon last weeks' momentum. The Redskins entered this contest coming off an emotional loss to the then winless Saint Louis Rams. A classic, hard-fought battle of momentum versus redemption pit Dawg versus Hog in a critical game for both teams.

The action takes place on October 19th, 2008 at 4:15pm on Sunday night. 48 degrees. Cloudy. Fair.


Anderson: Hail Browns fans, I beseech thee! Lend me your hearts, trust, and adoration! I have demonstrated great courage in slaying the mighty Giants of York, and I shall continue my ways against these foul Swine!

Dawgs: Dearest Derek, perhaps you do deserve our trust and adoration. We shall silence the call for your fairest understudy and rally behind thee.

Anderson: Amen my friends, I shall not disappoint! Watch as I carve up these wounded hogs in route to another Cleveland victory.

Anderson and Dawgs: Cheers!

(curtain falls)

The smiles and laughter ended shortly thereafter as the Browns came up short in a late 4th quarter thriller against the Washington Redskins. Defense was the call of the day as the first points by any team came in the 3rd quarter on a 3 yard touchdown run by Clinton Portis. The 'Skins never looked back, as the Browns were in catch-up mode for the rest of the game.

Man...we really needed this one. Every game from here on out is now considered a must win as our already slim playoff chances are rapidly fading. Baltimore and Pittsburgh both came out with wins, and it will take some real movie magic for us to get back into the thick of things.

The Good
  • Discipline: The Browns looked like an entirely different team from the one we saw 6 days ago. Perhaps the biggest difference came with the elimination of the foolish penalties that plagued the team over the past few contests. There were no offensive penalties for false starts, holding, or illegal formations. In that regard, the Browns executed a flawless game on offense. The defense also showed great discipline - keeping the self-destructive plays to a minimum while executing the game plan to perfection.
  • The Defense: This is the third straight week our defense has stepped up in a big way. Brandon McDonald, Brodney Pool and company did an decent job of containing Jason Campbell and the Washington passing attack. The only weak spot in Mel Tucker's scheme is the rush defense - which Clinton Portis exploited to the tune of 175 yards. Even with Portis' superb effort, the Browns only gave up 14 points on the road. With as high octane of an offense as we have, that should have been enough to win the game.
  • Special Teams: I can't say enough about the job Dave Zastidul and the Browns special teams unit did tonight. Zastidul was masterful - downing three punts inside the 20 en route to a 37.3 yard average. While Cribbs struggled to find any game-changing seams in the return game, he took what he could and played within himself. Oh, and kudos to Gerard Lawson. That big 43 yard return sparked a stale Browns offense and put us right back into the game. I can't fault Dawson for missing that 54-yarder at the end. It wasn't his fault, and I'll address that a little bit later.
The Bad
  • Field General #3: We are quickly finding out who Derek Anderson is as this turbulent season progresses. This was the first time Donte' Stallworth, Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow were healthy and on the field at the same time. Our offensive line and running backs were near 100%. Derek had the trust of his teammates, and his confidence was at an all-time high. Rob Chudzinski's gameplan was brilliant and this was a big-time game. In other words, everything was set up perfectly for DA to come through...and he didn't. Anderson just wasn't accurate. An offense is only as good as the quarterback, and as of now, the Browns are simply too inconsistent to contend.
  • Game Management: Romeo must have had his lucky rabbit's foot today, as this one could have turned out ugly. Twice he tempted fate by gambling against common sense, and won. The Browns were down 11 points in the 4th quarter with around 5 minutes to play. After failing to score 3 times from 1 yard out, Romeo elected to go for a touchdown instead of kicking a field goal and making it a one possession game. Fortunately, Eric Wright made a huge play by stripping Portis, and DA marched the Browns down for a score (and subsequent 2 pt. conversion).
  • More Game Management: With the 'Skins nursing a 3 point lead at the 2:44 mark, the Browns had two timeouts to force a three and out in hopes of getting the ball back and driving for a final score. After the defense dug deep and stopped the Redskins on first and second down, Coach Crennel used his final timeouts and put the entire game on one play. Had Washington converted on 3rd and 5, they would have run the clock out and the game would have been over. Once again, the Browns lucked out and got the last stop which gave them a chance to score. Why put the entire game on one play so unnecessarily? Let them run two plays, take it to the two-minute warning, and use a timeout on a 3rd down stop while saving the last for a potential field goal try.
  • Even More Game Management: On the final drive of the game, the Browns had a 1st and 10 with the ball at the Washington 38 yard line. Instead of designing something to give Dawson a more realistic chance, Derek took shot after shot down the field without gaining a single yard. I appreciate the aggressive play-calling, but setting for a game-tying 54 yard field goal attempt is NOT putting this team in the best position to win. You would want at least 10 more yards to give Phil Dawson a realistic chance of tying the game up.
The Ugly
  • The Loss: I've said it before, but this loss puts us in a terrible position. Realistically, we will need things to fall our way if we hope to make it to the playoffs. Football is such a crazy game. Even with the poor offensive performance and terrible game management, the Browns remained competitive to the end, and had a chance to steal a tough road victory. In order for the Browns to reach the post season, they not only have to weather a brutal schedule , but now they need teams ahead of them to lose as well.

(the curtain rises as a clearly distraught Cleveland Browns team reappear on stage with their heads down in frustration)

Dawgs: Superman wears number 10. Quinn to win!

Our Cinderella story is quickly turning from drama to science fiction - as we undoubtedly need help from above to make it to the playoffs. Many questions remain for our beloved underdawgs: Is it finally time to see Brady Quinn? How in the world will we beat the Jacksonville Jaguars coming off a bye IN Jacksonville? And should Carlos Rogers be detained for the attempted murder of Josh Cribbs?

All of these questions and more will be answered in the next scene of Cinderella 2: The 2008 Cleveland Browns Story
Posted on: October 3, 2008 5:07 am

Romeo Crennel is a Great Head Coach

It's true, Romeo Crennel is a great NFL head coach.

Based on what I have seen and heard about him, I couldn't be happier to have such a man of high character represent the Cleveland Browns. Romeo's leadership, interpersonal skills, and positive attitude are the perfect fit for a team who hasn't been able to sustain success since the late 1980's.

When evaluating a head coach, it is necessary to break his job down in terms of his different tasks. Probably the biggest task an NFL coach faces is personnel management. Benching, cutting, motivating, encouraging, and believing in the people around you is the most important responsibility a head coach has. If a strong relationship cannot be formed between coach and player, all else is lost. Since trust is the basis of any relationship, it is no coincidence that is the one trait all successful coaches share.

Generally speaking, there are two different ways head coaches earn trust. Guys like Bill Parcells, Bill Walsh, Bill Belichick and the great Vince Lombardi used intimidation as well as their knowledge of the game to garner their players' respect. Andy Reid, Dick Vermeil, Marty Schottenheimer, and Tony Dungy took a more compassionate route - gaining trust through loyalty, kindness, and honesty. Both coaching philosophies are equally effective as evident by the coaches' success, so one way isn't strictly better than the other.

Crennel obviously falls under the latter - as he is the quintessential "players coach". With Romeo Crennel, there's always a positive side to everything. If you listen closely when he speaks, rarely will you find a trace of negativity regarding his subordinates and this team. Rarely will you hear him say the Browns lost a game. Instead, "the team was unable to win." A player never does a bad job. There are simply "things that he needs to improve on."

Such positive thinking is crucial for the Cleveland Browns, which ultimately makes Crennel the right man for the job. Even with the lofty preseason expectations, there were still just as many negative football analysts predicting failure upon the team - and rightfully so. Winning is all that matters in this league, and quite frankly the Browns have not done much of that over the past 15 years. This dryspell of success makes it difficult for people around the league to respect the team - and that eventually trickles down to the players and the fanbase.

Coach Crennel's presence helps to change some of that.

Thanks in large part to his success in New England and New York, Crennel has the resume to back up his personable demeanor. This credibility lends itself well to players buying into the system and in turn encourages them to give maximum effort on every play. For whatever reason, Cleveland Browns fans are incapable of believing in Crennel despite the fact that every GM and player in close contact him him has only good things to say. The cause of this undoubtedly stems from the small sample most Browns fans have to see coach Crennel.

And sometimes that sample is not pretty.

Crennel's critics point to his gametime decision making and seemingly undisciplined football team as evidence of his incompetence. The Browns have committed 37 penalties this season, trailing only the Carolina Panthers as the most penalized team in football. Part of that falls on the head coach and the rest falls on the players. The fact is, Romeo isn't out there moving early on false starts. He's not out there on defense lining up in the neutral zone. Crennel and his coaching staff can only do so much, and it's up to the players to avoid the mental mistakes that have plagued this team thus far.

The conservative game management is a part of his style. Questionable timeout and in-game management decisions have become his M.O., and have drawn the ire of this particular gentledawg. The only thing we can do as Browns fans is hope management corrects these problems and learns from them in the future.

Romeo Crennel is with fault. The problems he has are correctable and I have faith they will only make him better.

Crennel's steadfast resolve and affable nature anchor a young and upcoming football team. Under his steady hand, the Cleveland Browns have direction - and are on the right course. The troubles plaguing our team will eventually correct themselves over the season - and this ship will finally be able to set sail.

Destination? The playoffs.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com