Passan: The Question Man

Rich Passan may not have the answers, but he's got the questions. And these are questions well worth pondering during the NFL's brief late-Spring downtime...

Questions seeking answers . . .

Will Maurice Carthon ever be satisfied?

Reportedly, the Browns' offensive coordinator was unhappy with the play of the club's offensive line last season.

Didn't that line block well enough to give the Browns their first 1,000-yard rusher in 20 years?

And wasn't Carthon the OC when Phil Savage went out and got him veteran free-agent guards Joe Andruzzi and Cosey Coleman and tackle L.J. Shelton last season?

Andruzzi and Coleman, however, had injury issues and Coleman didn't exactly blow people away when he was healthy. Shelton was let go after a distinctly mediocre season.

Carthon needed even more ammunition for his wonderfully creative offense (sarcasm intentional). So Savage went offensive line shopping again and signed center LeCharles Bentley and Kevin Shaffer, who took over for Shelton at left tackle. Then he drafted guard Isaac Sowells.

Let's see. That's an 80% turnover on the offensive line in a little more than a year. Right tackle Ryan Tucker must be wondering what he's still doing in Cleveland.

Someone once said that playing together on a regular basis year in and year out is the key to a successful offensive line. Same guys in the same positions play after play, game after game, season after season. It gets to the point where everyone automatically knows what the other guys are doing.

It's called consistency, something the Browns have not had on the offensive line since returning in 1999.

So when does it reach the point where Romeo Crennel and Savage finally understand that the real problem is not the players? It's the coordinator.

Who is Carthon going to blame this year if (perhaps when) the offense underperforms as it did last season, especially in the red zone?

Maybe, just maybe, Crennel and Savage will see the problem isn't with the personnel.

Hey, isn't that Jeff Davidson warming up in the bullpen?

Which prompts the question . . .

Why don't we hear from the assistant coaches?

We never see them quoted in stories. Are they hiding something? Or are they just hiding?

Or worse, are they forbidden from speaking to reporters? I can't imagine that Crennel is that much of a martinet that only he can speak for the coaching staff. Then again . . .

He comes from the Bill Belichick coaching tree and Belichick comes from the Bill Parcells coaching tree and Parcells could not care less about the media. Winning wherever he goes earned him that privilege.

When Belichick was the defensive coordinator under Parcells in New York with the Giants and in New England, he was Silent Bill. Parcells built a wall around his coaching staff. No one penetrated.

And when Belichick arrived in Cleveland in the early 1990s, he pulled a Parcells, slamming shut the doors to the assistant coaches. He did it again in New England.

Why can't we get information from other position coaches? If only to support a story on a particular player.

Are they blithering Neanderthals who have societal problems? Is the front office afraid they might say something wrong?

Wouldn't you like to know what makes Carthon tick or what drives Todd Grantham to become the manic sideline stalker during games?

My guess is that these guys are, by and large, fascinating people with stories to tell. But the way it's going now, we're never going to hear them.

Unless, of course, they become head coaches themselves. In which case, they'll probably slam the media door shut on their assistants.

It's a vicious cycle.

Speaking of cycles . . . or really recycles . . . another question . . .

Is Vinny the man?

Will Vinny Testaverde's final journey through the NFL land him back to Cleveland as Charlie Frye's backup? True or not, that's the latest rumor making the rounds.

It is hard to believe Savage will go with a quarterback triumvirate of Charlie Frye, Ken Dorsey and Derek Anderson. Some might consider that living dangerously with one virtually untested quarterback and one raw rookie behind Frye.

Frye, of course, is not exactly a chiseled veteran, but owns the top job by Crennel decree.

Testaverde, who played with the Browns for three seasons back in the 1990s, is winding down a career that has lasted a lot longer (19 years with six teams) than most people predicted.

He can still throw - wouldn't be surprised if his arm is stronger than Frye's - but his legs and age (he'll be 43 in November) are mitigating factors against starting status.

Some believe he would be a perfect mentor for Frye as he gets his NFL legs under him. Others argue that Vinny never had it from the neck up.

That's a situation that Savage, familiar with Testaverde from their days in Baltimore, has to wrestle with as summer camp approaches. Best guess is Dorsey will have to be extraordinarily impressive in the minicamp to ease any concerns Savage might have.

Otherwise, Vinny might, indeed, be the man. Unless . . .

A final question this week . . .

Will Savage try again for Oakland Raiders backup Marques Tuiasosopo?

After Joey Harrington thumbed his nose at Cleveland when Savage tried to pry him loose from Detroit on draft day, the GM tried to get Tuiasosopo from Oakland, but the Raiders balked. Can't imagine what he sees in the former Washington quarterback, who has done next to nothing in his five seasons as a professional. He has started two games and thrown one touchdown pass and five interceptions.

What does Savage see that we don't? That's one question we may never get the answer to.

Next week: More questions looking for answers.



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