These are Crucial Times

The firing of offensive coordinator Bruce Arians (pictured) is the subject of Bernie Kosar's analysis this week. Bernie looks at the impact that changing coordinators has on an offense, and offers his commentary on what next steps <I>NOT</I> to take as the Browns get ready for 2004...

The coach is always the one to take the hit. The team suffers through a disappointing season and everyone is looking for someone to blame. The fans want change, the owner wants answers and the head coach, if he survives the owner's anger, feels pressure to make everyone feel like something is being done.

So, he fires an assistant coach, sometimes more than one. Marty Schottenheimer, my first head coach, refused to fire assistants and ended up quitting the Browns himself. The Browns haven't been the same since.

Butch Davis let most of his offensive staff go before the postscript ink on the 2003 Browns season was even dry. Don't pass off the firing of an assistant coach as minor. It's not. Especially when the coach is a

coordinator.

Trust me - these are crucial times for the Browns.

We've all had defining moments in our lives. Sometimes they pass without us even recognizing their potential impact. I think Davis is facing one of those moments right now. The Browns are staring into the looking glass and what they see is not good. The reflection cast is one of an organization that made mistakes in coaching and personnel the year this franchise was born again and the team is still paying for those mistakes today.

The Browns can't afford to miss anymore.

It's time to start hitting and that starts with the hiring of the man that will direct the offense.

The value of continuity cannot be underestimated. Tim Couch has had to adjust to way too many offensive philosophies.

I know how he feels. Constant change helps no one.

I'm glad the Browns didn't fire Butch. Like him or not, you must understand that he is an investment. Sometimes, investments take time to mature. Tennessee Titans head coach Jeff Fisher is the winningest coach in the NFL over the last five years. He's 56-24 and has his team in the playoffs for the fourth time. But in his first five years, he didn't break .500 once. True, Fisher didn't have to deal with the expansion of a franchise, but he had to deal with the movement of one.

My point is this: the Browns need stability, now more than ever. The last thing they need is a change at head coach and to be honest they don't need to commit to another young quarterback either.

If there is one thing that I've learned in all of my years in sports it is this: winning often covers up a blemish or two and losing always magnifies everything. The Browns are in the magnification stage. Now it's important not to overreact.

I know you don't want to hear the word patience, but that's what it's going to take right now. This is a young football team. The offense is very young. The line never played together as a unit for more than a couple weeks in a row and the personnel we watched play this year on the patchwork front will not be the same group we see next year. Who knows who will carry the ball for the Browns next year? Let's hope the fullback position returns to have a place in the new system and remember, it will be a new system with new terminology.

Players perform at their peak when they are comfortable, especially young players. The Browns need to commit to a way of life and stay the course.

That's why this off-season is so important to the future of this franchise.

I'm not talking one or two years into the future, I'm talking about the distant future.

I want this organization to win a championship. I want it so badly. I know it can. I have the faith and I always will.


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