Browns need to win the Lottery
Picking a coach that can take the Browns to the upper echelons of the NFL is as probable as winning the NBA Lottery. Cleveland fans had the ping-pong ball bounce their way in the 2003 NBA Draft. Can the fans in Cleveland get another lucky break? The odds are against it.
There is no Jon Gruden or Bill Parcells available to the Browns now that Jeff Fisher looks to be secure in Tennessee. In fact out of the coaches mentioned as candidates for the Browns top spot only Jim Fassel has been a head coach in the NFL for longer than an interim period. No matter how much homework is done before naming the next coach of the Cleveland Browns, there is no sure hit amongst the possible candidates.
The Browns took advantage of a one week window to schedule interviews with coaches of playoff teams with first week byes. They talked to Philadelphia Eagles Offensive Coordinator Brad Childress on January 3. They held an interview with Romeo Crennel, Defensive Coordinator of the New England Patriots, on January 7. Over the weekend they will sit down with Steelers Assistant Head Coach, Russ Grimm and Falcons Defensive Coordinator, Ed Donatell.
Childress runs the West Coast Offense which would be good for Jeff Garcia. But, is the West Coast Offense with Jeff Garcia good for the Cleveland Browns? I seriously doubt it. I also think Andy Reid is heavily involved with the offensive side of the ball in Philadelphia. Maybe Childress would be a better fit, had the Browns drafted Donavan McNabb instead of Tim Couch in the 1999 NFL Draft.
Crennel has been involved in Super Bowl wins. But the defensive genius in New England is Bill Belichick. The Patriots have been able to play very good defense this year using smoke and mirrors. The same can't be said for Crennel when he was the Browns Defensive Coordinator in 2000.
Grimm is an interesting choice. He has been in the trenches as an offensive lineman. He knows what it takes to win Super Bowls. He has played in Pro Bowls which would give him instant credibility with the players. Hiring him would weaken the Steelers. I also like the idea that when he cuts a guy, the player can be told, "The Grim Reaper wants to see you in his office."
The resume of Donatell is the least attractive of the coaches scheduled for an interview. He did coach the Denver Broncos secondary in their Super Bowl wins in 1997 and 1998. He was born in Akron and played high school sports at Stow. So he knows what the Browns mean to the area.
Fassel was the head coach of the Giants from 1997-03 through 2003. During that time they were 58-53-1. They had winning seasons in 1997 (10-5-1), 2000 (12-4) and 2002 (10-6). They broke even at 8-8 in1998. Their record was 7-9 in 1999 and 2001. His worst year was 2003 when a 4-12 record cost him his job. The bright spot on his resume is that he took the Giants to the Super Bowl in 2000, where they lost to the Ravens. Fassel's background is on the offensive side of the ball. So it troubles me that the Giants were twenty-first or lower in points scored six of seven years he was there. They ranked fifteenth in 2000 the year they made it to the Super Bowl. In the three years that they posted winning records the defense was ranked in the top five for points allowed. The biggest strike against him is that he was the final obstacle between Art Modell and a Super Bowl Trophey and he failed.
Nolan is the Ravens Defensive Coordinator. He took that position when Marv Lewis was hired by the Bengals as the head guy. He may be game planning and calling the plays, but Ray Lewis is running the show. Therefore, his accomplishments in the league may be overlooked. Ironically it was his defense that Fassel inherited when he coached the Giants. Nolan was the Defensive Coordinator with the Giants 1993-96. During that time the Giants ranked no lower than sixteenth in the NFL for points allowed. Three of his four years there, his defense was ranked in the top ten. In his first year with the Giants he took a defense that was nineteenth in points allowed the previous year to the number one spot. In the one year he held the same position with the Jets. He improved the defense to tenth from twenty-first the year before. He would probably run a 3-4 defense that attacks which would be a welcome change. He is the son of former NFL Coach Dick Nolan so coaching is in his genes.
Terry Robiskie is also in the mix. He knows this team better than the other candidates. He has shown what he brings to the table. The team has given him their endorsement. Though, I'm not sure that is a good thing. He played the game at this level with the Raiders. He says he'll sign a one year contract. Actually he says all the right things.
Iowa Head Coach Kirk Ferentz and Phil Savage have a bound that goes back to the Belichick days in Cleveland. But Ferentz has made it clear that he wants to stay a Hawkeye. But don't count him out. Randy Lerner has deeper pockets than University of Iowa. He did beat LSU and Nick Saban this year in the Capital One Bowl. But do we really want a college guy?
Savage has said that there are other coaches he wants to interview. I hope that list includes these names:
Jim Bates (Miami Defensive Coordinator)
Gregg Williams (Washington Assistant Head Coach - Defense)
Jerry Gray (Buffalo Defensive Coordinator)
Mike Heimerdinger (Tennessee Offensive Coordinator)
In the end there will be no clear cut choice amongst the bunch. Maybe the Browns should just scribble their names on ping-pong balls and hope they hit the Lottery.
I just looked in the fridge and there is a half-eaten cheese ball with what I hope is green food coloring, no summer sausage and a few beers. The buttons on my remote are worn down. I've had to pull down all the blinds in the house because sunlight hurts my eyes. But I survived the Bowl Games and NFL Week 17. Thanks Browns for giving me a taste of victory, I had forgotten how delicious it is. I am frustrated that the Browns didn't take my application for the GM spot seriously. I was anticipating them buying me a new VCR since mine spits out tapes like they are poison. I hope to be able to watch every Bowl Game again, this time in slow motion, before April's NFL Draft.
I did wake up one night in a cold sweat and a heaviness in my chest. I thought it was severe indigestion. A by-product of the hot wings consumed that day. I tried my best to conjure up a belch but I was just sucking in air. This made the matter worst. After taking a couple of muscle relaxers I calmed down and fell asleep. I am quite sure I suffered a panic attack, caused from the extensive pressure to find something positive about the Browns current state of affairs. I should call Butch, I think I deserve a little portion of that 12 million he embezzled from the Browns.
Well it is time to put the sunglasses on and venture out into the world. I need to restock the fridge and buy a new VCR before the NFL Playoffs start. Maybe I should look into TIVO?