Commentary: Hopeful Signs from Berea

<i>Bernie's Insiders Magazine</I> commentator Ron Jantz returns to the web to offer his thoughts about the Browns upcoming draft. Holding up a mirror to the organization and realizing the truth, Ron suggests, is the critical first step...

It won't be long now.  The NFL Draft will arrive and the Browns will be anything but dull.

You'll never be able to accuse this regime of getting caught watching the paint dry.

To bring us up to warp speed, let's look back at the whirl wind that has been the last two months.

Browns owner Randy Lerner talked about building an organization and football team that was only as great as the sum of its parts.  Lerner went out and hired a man who knew how to build such a model.  Phil Savage then went out and extended an offer to his new head coach while the Super Bowl confetti was still falling from above.  Savage hired a director of player personnel two days later.

It would be easy to credit Savage for everything from here on out.  It would be easy to say he pushed the buttons.   I won't do that.  I really believe this ORGANIZATION is making the right steps.  The first step was putting their team in front of a mirror and admitting they didn't like the reflection.

Quick, and I'll give you five seconds to respond, where did this team need to improve?  It's an exaggeration, but the Browns didn't even need five seconds to answer.  They waived their troubled quarterback and signed a veteran starter.  Okay, Trent Dilfer doesn't inspire any of us with his numbers but maybe it's time we stop looking at numbers.  Tim Couch had great numbers in college.  Jeff Garcia had great numbers in San Francisco.  Numbers don't necessarily mean anything.  Just ask Al Gore.

The Browns not only put their highly touted underachievers on notice; they got rid of them.  Robert Griffith was waived.  Gerard Warren was traded.   Courtney Brown was terminated.  William Green was shopped but no one wanted him.  What lesson was learned?  The truth hurts.  One thing about the truth though, it also sets you free.  This organization has figured that out.

Have you ever found it hard to admit you've been wrong?  The Browns have had issues with that concept in the past, but to be fair, most professional sports teams do.  The trick is to put your organizational ego in your hip pocket and move on even if it costs you a million or two or eight.

I guess you could say I'm getting caught up in the sheer volume of moves this organization has made in a very short period of time.  I am and I like it.  It's not just the quantity of moves but the quality, I believe, that comes along with each one. 

I love the fact that this Browns regime has actually recognized the fact that an offense is only as strong as its line.  Joe Andruzzi and Cosey Colemen should help.  So should the fire the team lit under the underachieving center that we all hope one day actually anchors this line.  Maybe it's unfair to call Jeff Faine underachieving.  Maybe we should just say he never should have been a first round draft pick.   So what if Lee Suggs shows flashes of brilliance.  He also has a history of getting hurt.  

In Romeo Crennel's offense, the Browns know they need a durable guy to carry the football.  They also need depth at the position.  So, after the Chester Taylor try came up empty, they traded for Denver's Rueben Droughns.  Remember, Droughns used to be a fullback.  His body is used to the punishment.

Expectations can sometimes be cruel.  But in this town, expectations will never go away.  Unfortunately, thanks to five straight years of horrible drafting, fans expect the Browns to blow it again this April.

Here's where I think it all changes.  Savage has proven that the draft is his strength.  It's natural, thanks to the losing, for Browns fans to have a complex and say "ah, he'll blow it too" but maybe not.  Maybe it's time for a change.  This organization has proven in two short months that change is nothing to fear.

This draft is not going to secure success for this football team.  It is only a part of the process.  And even though this draft offers no great hope, hope can be found in the organization.  It's funny but true; when you don't have the players, you find yourself rooting for the guys who are paid to find the players.

Maybe one day that will change too.

I hope so. 

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