It has been a busy Sunday morning for news regarding the GM and head coaching positions in Cleveland. Here is a quick rundown of the latest reports:
According to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, Romeo Crennel and Phil Savage will be asked to step down on Monday. Cabot says that nothing will happen before Monday unless one of the two forces the issue. In addition, Cabot reports that Browns owner Randy Lerner is targeting former Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher and New Englad Patriots Executive Vice President Scott Pioli, and that he he would be “ecstatic” to have the chance to land both.
Mike Florio over at PFT has already pooh-poohed the idea of a Pioli-Cowher partnership in Cleveland, saying that both would demand final say. Thus, a partnership is merely a Lerner pipe dream with no actual chance of happening. I tend to agree.
Additionally, Chris Mortensen of ESPN is also reporting the Browns’ interest in Cowher and Pioli, but that there may be a silver living for Romeo Crennel and/or Phil Savage. Mortensen says that if the Browns are unable to persuade Cowher or Pioli to join the organization, Savage has a chance to maintain his role as GM.
There are a couple more interesting nuggets, from the Cabot report:
- Romeo Crennel may be asked to stay in Cleveland in a different capacity that head coach, perhaps as defensive coordinator, especially if Scott Pioli joins the Browns. Crennel worked with Pioli in New England, and Randy Lerner is apparently impressed the class and dignity with which Romeo Crennel has conducted himself. Florio pooh-poohed this idea too, saying it would be difficult for the players to have the former head coach still in the building with a new man in charge. I agree. No way Crennel stays.
- Should the Browns not get Bill Cowher to be the head coach, they may go the coordinator route to fill the opening. Names being thrown around are Rex Ryan of Baltimore, Jason Garrett of Dallas, Jim Schwartz of Tennessee, Steve Spagnuolo of the New York Giants, and Josh McDaniels of New England. Another name mentioned who might be interviewed: Urban Meyer of Florida.
I am on record stating that I agree with the premise of the guys over at Cowher09.com, that I think Bill Cowher would be a great choice for the Browns. If the Browns do not get Cowher, I would love to see them go the coordinator route and give an up-and-coming coach their first head job. Look at Miami, Atlanta, and Baltimore. All three teams experienced a huge turnaround this season and all had experienced GMs in place who chose first-time head coaches. Whether it is Scott Pioli or Phil Savage making the choice (in which case, we would be assuming, Bill Cowher is not an option), I think they should choose the best of the aforementioned candidates through the interview process.
Except for Urban Meyer.
I don’t want to discuss Urban-Meyer-to-the-Browns too much, because I don’t think it can possibly be realistic, but I just want to go on record saying I think it is completely preposterous. Some coaches are born to be college football coaches (Steve Spurrier, Nick Saban) and some guys are born to coach in the NFL. Urban Meyer is an awesome coach, but, like Bob Stoops, I think he is a college coach and would not have success in the NFL. I know he has Bowling Green and Midwest roots, but please. How many times do we have to see college coaches fail in the NFL before owners and GMs will stop thinking they can find the next Jimmy Johnson?
Randy Lerner, please listen to me: DO NOT get tempted by Urban Meyer.
I cannot decide if I would rather see an offensive guy or a defensive guy be brought in. On the one hand, the Browns D could use an overhaul and a more experienced leader. Mel Tucker is a good secondary coach, but has been a bit overmatched this season as a defensive coordinator, at least in my opinion. We do not get consistent pressure on opposing QBs and seem to play on our toes too much, reacting instead of forcing the action.
However, Romeo Crennel was a defensive coordinator. And the Browns D, while it has shown flashes of potential, has not markedly improved over the past four years. I think the talent has, but the consistency and performance in key, late-game situations, has not. And the D has, sadly, been the strength of this year’s team. The offensive woes of the Browns have been discussed ad nauseum this season. Injuries, underperforming “stars”, and horrible coaching has led to the 5-game TD drought. But once 2009 begins, there will still be talent to work with on offensive.
Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson will be back at QB. Joe Thomas is a Pro Bowl offensive lineman. Braylon Edwards has talent, if he can pull his head out of his ass. Kellen WInslow obviously is supremely talented, but struggles to stay healthy. Joe Jurevicius should be back. Jamal Lewis-Jerome Harrison-Jason Wright, if deployed effectively, can be an effective trio of running backs, a poor team’s answer to the Giants three-headed trio.
So maybe a guy like Josh McDaniels or Jason Garrett could breathe life into the offense? I live in Dallas and the star of Jason Garrett has faded a bit this year with the struggles of the Cowboys offense. What McDaniels at NE have been able to do without Tom Brady has been impressive.
At the end of the day, I don’t think it matters whether the choice is offensive or defensive. What Randy Lerner needs to do is find the coach who brings the right ATTITUDE to Berea. The biggest frustration for many Browns fans over the past few years has been the lack of an attitude, a killer instinct, a swagger. We had for a few brief moments in 2007, but it completely evaporated this year. I think that is why most people are excited about the thought of Bill Cowher. Even Steelers fans question some Bill Cowher’s decision-making and Xs-and-Os thinking. But no one has ever, ever questioned his attitude.
The Browns have talent, as they proved last year. What they need is a complete overhaul in mindset. If the choice is not Bill Cowher, then Randy Lerner needs to find a new head coach who can define a winning attitude for the Cleveland Browns, just like the Steelers did in hiring Mike Tomlin. He was inexperienced, but he is a winner and has a winning attitude. (Damnit I hate the Steelers.)
I don’t know who that coach is, and I’m just a blogger so it’s not my job to know. But I do know that it is time for the Browns to make the right decision about who will lead their organization, and that the #1 criteria needs to be attitude and leadership above all else.