Levine: Questions, Not Criticism

Les offers his thoughts on the team's coaching staff and Frye's odd play in Minnesota

Most fair observers would tell you that the Cleveland sports media is pretty fair and ‘somewhat easy' on the people and teams that it covers, especially when you compare it to other markets like New York, Boston, and Philadelphia.  But Romeo Crennel might not agree.

Crennel seemed surprised when, after the loss the Jacksonville, he was asked if Charlie Frye did enough to earn another start against Cincinnati next week.  When you come from the Bill Parcells/Bill Belichick coaching tree, I guess you come in with pre-conceived ideas about the press, but what could have possibly surprised Crennel when that question was asked.  Other than the season-ending knee injury to Braylon Edwards, and the 1,000 yard season by Reuben Droughns, the starting quarterback situation was the only story of that game.

In reality, the press has been extremely fair and understanding in their dealings with the first year head coach.  Other than the time management problems at the end of the half in Minnesota, the coach has almost totally escaped criticism.  And asking about Frye's situation after the game wasn't anywhere near criticism, although it appears that Crennel perceived it that way.

There is no justification, at this point in the season, to start Trent Dilfer.  Dilfer has done exactly what he was brought here to do, and now it is time for Phase 2 to come into play---the transition to the rookie quarterback, to see if he can be handed the starting job for next season.


The more you think about the Minnesota game, the stranger it becomes. 

The clock management problem has been discussed enough, but what about the handling of Frye in that game?  Crennel made good on his promise that Frye would get one series in the half, whether that series was comprised of one play or fifteen plays. Crennel had scoffed at a question about the play that was called, which resulted in an interception, instead of letting Frye ease himself into the game with a running play or routine short pass. 

But, in reality, according to a source in the Browns office, Frey actually called an audible on that play, and Braylon Edwards ran the wrong pattern.  The source went on to say that Bernie Kosar, watching the game on TV, was so upset that he called Frye to find out what he was thinking.

While Crennel may not have been happy with being questioned on that pass play, you will notice that in the first twelve first down plays in the first half of the Jacksonville game, started by the rookie, were running plays.  Frye did not pass on first down in the first half until the two-minute drill (run correctly this week), which resulted in the second Frye-to-Edwards touchdown.

Four of the five sacks in the second half were on third-and-long situations, and the fifth was on second-and-long.  No matter how well Droughns has performed this year, it is unfair to put a young quarterback in those kinds of situations all game long.

Something that has been overlooked in the lack of success on the field this year by the Browns is the fact that they had to wait so long for Romeo Crennel to finish with his Super Bowl duties with the New England Patriots

As a result, the Browns were way behind schedule in hiring assistant coaches.  If you look at the resumes of the top ten assistant coaches, you will see at least five of them never saw a live NFL game as a coach prior to this season.  You always hear that the biggest surprise for college player when they get to the NFL is the speed of the game.  It probably is the same for assistant coaches.

Most observers would be surprised if the coaching staff stays nearly the same by the time next year rolls around.


‘More Sports & Les Levine' can be seen M-F from 6-7pm and 11pm-midnight on Adelphia Channel 15 in northeastern Ohio.  His Sunday column appears in the News-Herald and Lorain Journal.  E-mail msandll@aol.com or www.leslevine.com

The OBR Top Stories