Passan: Browns Must Move On

After witnessing the Tampa Bay debacle, Rich Passan is more convinced than ever that a coaching change is required for the Browns to turn their ship around. The alternative, Rich suggests, is that the Browns will become the "laughingstock of the entire football world". Agree or disagree? Sound off in the OBR forums!

Rumors persist that Romeo Crennel will return as the Browns' head coach next season despite the distinct possibility the club will finish this season with a 4-12 record.

If those rumors have anything resembling legs, then the Browns are headed in a direction that could make them not only the laughingstock of the National Football League, but the laughingstock of the entire football world.

If Crennel is back as the Browns' head coach next season, then General Manager Phil Savage and owner Randy Lerner have substantially lowered the bar on their future expectations of the club.

It goes beyond all comprehension that Crennel is still on solid ground.

Those arguing on his behalf insist that continuity is the key ingredient in getting the Browns back on the right track. "Why change coaches now?" his supporters ask. "That'll mean a whole new philosophy, a new system, a new attitude, a new everything. When is this merry-go-round of coaches going to stop?"

Let's take this one step at a time.

Is this the kind of continuity the fans want to see in Cleveland? The kind of continuity where the team comes out week after week playing uninspired football? The kind of continuity where progress is just another word in the dictionary? The kind of continuity where losses pile up at an alarming rate?

You want to see more of that? Two seasons of this isn't enough? You honestly, truly, in your heart of hearts want to see more of this?

If you do, you deserve everything you get next season. If the Browns haven't gotten any better in the past two seasons, what makes anyone think they'll improve in 2007?

When the heat was ratcheted up on Crennel following the embarrassing Cincinnati loss several weeks ago, Savage stepped forth and proclaimed Crennel was his man and Lerner's man. Romeo Crennel isn't going anywhere, Savage proclaimed. The ultimate vote of confidence.

It was a not-so-transparent attempt to stem the tide of criticism leveled at Crennel and let the fans know that no, the ship wasn't sinking and no, the captain was in no danger of losing his job even though the ship was taking on water.

Savage, in a rare regular-season news conference, slammed the club's damage-control apparatus into high gear. In protecting his coach, he backed himself into a corner.

Basically, he said Crennel would be his coach next season. That was before the Browns upset the Kansas City Chiefs, then had the snot beaten out of them by Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Tampa Bay.

Just when you think it couldn't get any worse, Crennel and his coaching staff pulled the Tampa Bay stinker out of their bag of tricks Sunday as Derek Anderson, before separating his shoulder, hauled out his best Charlie Frye imitation against the famed Tampa Bay cover 2 defense that hasn't stopped anyone this season.

How the Browns could lose so badly to a 3-11 team that hasn't won a road game in more than a year is incomprehensible. How many games like that do Savage and Lerner have to witness before they see that a tenderfoot Boy Scout is better prepared than Crennel's teams?

No matter what happens this Sunday in Houston, the winds of change need to blow up a hurricane in order for Savage and Lerner to see that a head-coaching change must be made.

If they choose to stay the course with Crennel, they're going to look stupid next season when they have to fire him sometime during the season for the same reasons they should mercifully let him go at the end of this season.

It doesn't take much to see that Crennel's stab at head coaching has been a disaster. There isn't one area of this team that has improved in his 31-game tenure. One would think that over the course of a season, there would be some semblance of improvement.

No team should get manhandled in week 16 the way the Buccaneers rag-dolled the Browns Sunday. At home, no less.

Sure, injuries cut into whatever effectiveness the Browns could bring to Sundays. But that's no excuse for their performance the past two seasons. All teams have injuries and somehow manage to get by.

This team is so bad and poorly coached, it has trouble just competing. In 15 games this season, you can point to three or four games where the Browns contended: The first Baltimore game, the first Pittsburgh game for the first three quarters for certain and arguably the Atlanta, Kansas City and New York Jets games.

Other than that, they have been sadly and badly outplayed and outcoached.

When Crennel walked into the media room following Sunday's shellacking by the lowly Buccaneers, he said, rather disgustedly, "We didn't play a very good game today and it showed up on the scoreboard."  No barnyard fecal matter, Mr. Holmes.

What he neglected to add was, "This is not a recording."

He went on to say that "it wasn't a very good showing . . . we're disappointed in it. I know everybody else is disappointed in it, but that's what it is."

That's what it is? No, that's not what it is. Disappointed doesn't even begin to describe how the fans feel about this one. What it is is embarrassing, shameful and unacceptable.

Asked if the Tampa Bay loss was the lowest point in his two years in Cleveland, Crennel snapped, "Every loss is a low point." That's 21 low points in 31 games. Not the kind of stuff you want to put on a resume.

The man coaches not to lose. He coaches as if the Browns were 21-10 in the last two seasons instead of 10-21. A pooch punt instead of a field-goal attempt from 44 yards on fourth down in the first quarter of a meaningless game against a terrible team? Is that what good coaching is all about?

For a team that prides itself on the great winning tradition of the past, it is essential – no, make that imperative – that there be a new head man for the Browns next season.

How much better can a new coach be than Crennel? Anyone would be better than what the fans of this team have had to endure the past two seasons.

It's time this front office does something right for a change. Crennel has got to go at the end of the season. Preferably the day after the Houston loss. Pay the man off and be done with it.

Admit he was a failure and move on. Everyone will be better off for it. Especially the fans.

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