Inside the Chaos

Barry McBride and Lane Adkins spent a good part of Friday afternoon and Saturday answering questions posed by Browns fans in the Ask the Insiders forum. Here is a sample their answers, as Browns fans looked for answers, and asked the hard questions. Dozens more questions and answers about the Collins/Savage situation can be found in the Ask the Insiders forum, including information that has not been released elsewhere...

BustAWolv: Trip McCracken... his name is thrown out all over the place. Is he really the reason Savage got fired? Supposedly according to one poster they wanted to fire him and Savage said hell no.

BarryMcBride: Those who have been talking to us have not been portraying McCracken as being a divisive force.

LaneAdkins: Trip is not at the center of this internal battle. While being the primary cap-guy in Berea, he is not the decision maker, that falls to Lerner, Collins, and Savage.

MuskieDawg01: Barry - is the velocity of this situation being driven by the media? From your comment it seems as if there are some skeletons in the closet that will be coming out... Is there something about Savage that we don't know? Is he living up to expectations in the eyes of Lerner/Collins? Is this a pure power play by Collins?

BarryMcBride: Definitely driven by the media as the lack of response from the organization shows. I believe they were taken by surprise. I don't think it's about "power", other than it's a turf battle which has been created by some stumbles over the last six months in negotiating contracts.

MuskieDawg01: Thanks Barry. One more quick one for ya - according to your quote above, it seems that Phil's departure is imminent. Do you (or your source) have any thoughts that this situation can be resolved peacefully with Phil remaining with the Browns?

BarryMcBride: My source did not hold out much hope for that, but as a Browns fan, I would like to see some way to hold on to a terrific talent evaluator, and there may be some hope of that inside the organization as well.

FiestaBuckeye: Savage is staying THANK GOD! Collins is on WTAM right now and says these rumors are absolutely FALSE. I've been a Browns fan for 40 years and was about to jump this ship. THANKFULLY it's untrue. Collins is also saying there is NOT a rift between himself and Savage....and Savage IS NOT GOING ANYWHERE.

MuskieDawg01: Barry - now that we've heard Collins say that Savage is not could SO many different sources get this story 'wrong?' There definitely has to be some substance to it don't you think? What are the sources saying in light of Collins' song and dance on WTAM? Any word?

BarryMcBride: Fiesta, I share your relief, but be careful what you read into Collins' statements.

For this many sources to offer the same story, and from disparate areas, indicates that something was going on. I suspect that some discussions may have gotten out of control and leaked to the media, and that the team pulled itself back from the brink. That is largely speculation, but I've gotten a ton of information on this today, and there's some fire underneath all the smoke.

Solardawg: Barry- Specifically what was the problem with the Braylon Edwards negotiation?

BarryMcBride: There appear to be some individuals on the business side of the organization who feel that Edwards was overcompensated.  This is Grossi's work, not ours, in terms of finding out the specific gripe on Edwards, so he gets credit.

Quite frankly, it seems a bit like backseat driving. Edwards was late to camp and unused for a good portion of his rookie year as it was, and the Browns were certainly not the worst in the NFL in terms of overcompensating rookies or refusing to negotiate.They seemed to hew pretty closely to the middle to me, but there is some unhappiness about escalator clauses according to Grossi's sources.

BustaWolv: Is Phil leaving the team or is the team firing Phil? Do the Brown's see him as a GM or a player personnel director?

BarryMcBride: The team has not fired Phil Savage. If this happens, it will happen after some negotiations and may be given any type of name, but it would be Savage getting pushed out.

The Browns are not seeing the GM position like Savage sees it. They probably see him more like a Player Personnel type than a GM, since he wouldn't have responsibility for contracts.

Kaos526: If true, does Savage's exit make Crennel a lame-duck coach?

BarryMcBride: I do not believe so. The issues are over who has what front-office responsibility, and not the on-field play.

BustaWolv: Does Trip McCracken go if Phil Savage does?

BarryMcBride: That seems probable, but no confirmation on it. McCracken was here before Savage, so he's not marked with him. Remember that the Browns let Lal Henighan go last year, so they don't have a ton of cap management experience on board right now.

Yogi8: Can Ron Wolf possibly be in the mix here?

BarryMcBride: Highly doubtful. Wolf was a Carmen Policy hire, and seems to enjoy being retired. It's not likely that he would buy into being a full-time participant in what appears to be chaos up here.

ElijahCross: Insiders, may this have anything to do with Romeo Crennel. If memory serves there was a report early in the year about a feud. I always got the feeling Crennel was a Lerner pick and not a savage pick.

BarryMcBride: There were rumors of disagreements between Crennel and Savage that came out last year through the usual unreliable sources. At the time, I didn't give them much weight, and I still don't. This appears to be a conflict based on the question of who controls some specific areas on the player/personnel side.

There were rumors that Phil Savage favored another coaching candidate (Mike Nolan), but those have been denied by the team.

LaneAdkins: The issue isn't one of Savage and Crennel, it is some important differences of opinion between Savage and Collins.

Collins has been involved in aspects other than that of running the pure business side of the operation, which he does not want to do at this level.

The feeling is Savage is not experienced enough and is not sufficiently well-rounded in ALL aspects of a GM role, thus is the basis of Lerner and Collins seeking a professional to bridge the gap.

Lerner and Collins are fully aware Savage is a bright evaluator and these men do not want to disrupt that aspect of his being.

BryanK: Let me preface this by saying I realize that 99% of what ProFootball Talk says is crap, but their headline today refers to Savage being on the way out. Why does this stuff keep coming up? Is there any truth to this at all? The idea of "where there's smoke, there's fire" makes me wonder. Thanks!

BarryMcBride: As I pointed out on the front page, it's believed that this story actually is coming out of Atlanta. I didn't say it on the front page, but it's believed that Mort's story came from Ray Anderson himself.

LaneAdkins: Anderson claims he has not been spoken to considering the Browns position............should we expect anything else?

BarryMcBride: It's important to parse the words here carefully. Mortensen reported that Anderson was not contacted directly by the Browns but through a third party. So quotes to the effect that "we haven't spoken to Anderson" or "the Browns haven't spoken to me" are meaningless.

Slemdog: Lane, please help! Today in my sports page browns beat reporter Steve Doerschuk quoted RAC saying I quote" Crennel suggested Faine's play as a third-year Brown would have drawn Pro Bowl consideration if he'd been on a winning team". WHAT!!! Everything I've read on this site, everything I've heard on radio nobody gives this kid much love and now you read this. This is the same coaching staff that suggests B.Russell is someone they really like also, but on game day he does NOTHING he has done NOTHING all year.

Lane four questions, 1) Does this coaching staff know talent or not Bodden was in active for weeks and now in my eyes is the best cover corner one on one we've seen for a time. And now you read this about Faine? 2) What is your opinion and other NFL insiders opinion about Jeff Faine? 3) I think everybody agrees the o-line is better but clearly not good enough, besides L-T, and if Faine is your center do they up grade the guard positions again this year. 4) If Faine is our center do we still go for Bentley , I think we need a stud like him on the line. I just think its a perfect fit him being from c-town getting a chance to leave N.O. Please help I knew this season was going to be unpleasant but now you read stuff that does not add up to what you see on game day. please reassure me being a browns fan I'm a little gun shy I'm sure you understand.

Lane Adkins: This coaching staff may be better in tune with a roster, especially when comparing them to the past staff's here.

I do not agree about Faine and you would be hard-pressed to find anyone in the game to backup the statement. Faine has been better than average, nothing special.

Bodden has been a hidden gem on this roster going back to Pete Garcia bringing him in. We noted him on numerous occasions in the old Bernie's Insiders magazine issues. The reason he was on the pine early was as follows:

1. He did not adjust to the new defense quickly.
2. His playing time was limited.
3. He wasn't as receptive early on as others.
4. He was not 100%, but was functional, but fell behind due to Crennel's tough-love

This team still needs to become more physical and aggressive upfront, with the center, one guard position, and the left tackle spot being areas of interest.

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