Tom from Charlotte: How realistic do you think it would be for the browns to get some of the top free agents like Eric Steinbach, Adalius Thomas, Kris Dielman or Nate Clements? Also, who do you think the browns will take with their first and second round picks?
Barry: While the Browns have a great deal of cap room, they're faced with two challenges this year when going after free agents:
- There are a number of teams with good cap room this year, including some teams that are legitimate playoff contenders, and,
- The Browns are currently a team without much cache for players, as they appear to be headed for another year of building and aren't a prestige franchise at this point.
Mike in Pittsburgh: A couple of questions and a comment.
- Is there anyone out there in the coaching ranks that would make the Browns more likely to fire Romeo? And lets not include Tressel in the discussion, because that ain't going to happen (at least I hope not).
- Do you think the performances by Washington, McGinest, Droughns, and Edwards this year are indicative of what they have to offer in the future? Is it time to cut bait? I can easily see Edwards taking over the mantel of prima donna from T.O., except for the fact that he's not nearly as good.
- The article by John Taylor was excellent in explaining why this team can't seem to get out of this hole. I think it would be interesting to see a comparison of injuries of the Browns vs. the rest of the league during the same period.
Barry: A couple of answers and a nod:
- The three names which came up consistently in past weeks are Jim Tressel (oops, sorry), Jeff Fisher, and Bill Cowher. Fisher looks to be unavailable, Cowher will try to cash in before the 2008 season, not 2007, so Sweater Vest Jim is the only coach that would seem to convince the Browns to pull the trigger. With Savage backing Romeo, it seems hard to believe that team owner Randy Lerner would have an assistant he would demand be given a chance in lieu of Crennel. With the possible exception of Ohio State's coach, the Browns seem to be tired of providing a training ground for college or long-time assistants to learn how to be head coaches.
- Ted Washington is still needed in the middle of the line unless a suitable replacement can be found. There's not one on the roster. I would see Willie McGinest here again next year to help provide veteran leadership, but with a diminishing on-field role as youngsters are given more opportunities to shine. While no one can dispute McGinest's mentoring and leadership qualities, he's clearly slowing down on the field. Reuben Droughns' decline was very worrisome, and he is likely to have to battle hard for a starting role next year. I think that the consensus on Edwards is that he has too much talent to give up on at this point, but he's clearly got to be less of a distraction and, perhaps more importantly, become better at sticking to his routes. Jeff pointed out during last night's show that 12 of the team's interceptions were on routes intended to go Edwards. Is that a coincidence or an indication that Edwards is not where the QB expects him to be?
- John's analysis was excellent and a key factor in why I personally came to the opinion that Crennel should be given another opportunity unless a "sure-thing" head coach becomes available.
Gary in Rochester: Everyone is wondering why certain draft picks are not playing... My question is Who is the driving force behind these types of decisions? Is it mainly the assistants giving evaluations? Travis Wilson, Isaac Sowells, etc. my thought is if they aren't playing they probably aren't ready. Can Alan Branch play defensive end on the pro level?
Barry: We're not privy to all that decision-making, but one would assume that Crennel is working with his assistants to make all these decisions. Even after the change from Carthon to Davidson, the Browns were slow to play rookies on offense, which indicates to me that Crennel is behind that philosophy. As far as Branch is concerned, he would be a DT in a 4-3 and either a DE or NT in a 3-4. He's quick enough at this stage that I think he would be successful at DE. It's early on yet, with workouts and the combine left, but the Browns draft position at #3 or #4 might make Branch a little bit of a reach at that point, although many feel he's a top ten pick... whether he's a top five pick will come out this Spring.
Anonymous: Joe Thomas is not a lock 10 year starter in the NFL. That is not me saying that either. You can find just as many scouting reports with doubts about him. I just can't see drafting him at 3 or 4 unless he's a sure thing. He did not look very good in his Bowl game. I don't see how you can evaluate the guy until you see him go up against high caliber talent week in and week out. The Big Ten is not loaded with big time pass rushers this year outside of Woodley at Michigan. Look at the some of the OSU kids. OSU always puts out quality lineman. And that is putting my OSU bias aside.
Barry: We're going to have a long time to talk about this during the Spring, but the consensus seems to be at Thomas (like Branch, above) might be a little bit of a reach at 3 or 4. I've seen mixed scouting reports as well. Whether the Browns feel that the need to bolster their lines overrides that concern remains to be seen, but we've heard the team really likes a couple of players who you would expect to go early, including RB Adrian Peterson, and QB Brady Quinn. As much as some of us want to see the lines addressed with top-flight talent, the Browns may have a problem passing up skill players at their high draft slot.
Ryan from Medina: I think Cowher WILL want some GM control if he even does consider coming to the Browns. I do agree with national folks though that say the Browns will not be able to get a guy like Cowher anyway because owners like Jerry Jones and Daniel Snyder will be looking for coaches after Parcells and Gibbs leave. Not to mention marquee jobs like one in NY (Giants) or Miami might open up too. I don't see the Browns coaching job being that attractive. Did you ever think our team's serious lack of talent and misrun organization steers viable candidates away? I definitely think so.
Barry: As I said above, the Browns are a team that doesn't have much "cache" for players right now, and one would assume that applies to top-flight coaching candidates as well. On the other hand, I'm not sure that meddlesome owners like Jones and Snyder are an attraction for all head coaches, and Randy Lerner's wallet can probably compete with theirs. That being said, Lerner's wallet, Cleveland's tradition, and a good 2007 draft might be effective persuaders if it appears that the Browns are ready to take the next step as 2007 ends.
Anonymous: And what are your thoughts on another pass rusher? Look back at that Steeler game, we could not get to the QB. We got picked apart in the 4th quarter. Wimbley was the only guy getting consistent heat. He needs another bookend. Maybe try Leon Williams there if we don't draft one. <Agree> Rip Scherer should be replaced. All I saw was our QBs regressing from week to week. Mel Tucker, on the other hand, improved the DBs from week to week. I think that leads creedence to the fact that Jim Tressel seems to surround himself with good coaches. He had Mel, he had Dantonio who did good things at Cincinnati, he has Heacock and Bollman. It might not be a bad thing if we look the college way again.
Barry: The idea of trying Williams at outside linebacker was discussed during the show last night, with Jeff and Fred bringing up Williams mental ability - he had the defensive play-calling role at the end of the season. Admittedly, if you asked this during the show last night, I probably would have leapt at the chance to steer the idea back to improving the defensive line (personal obsession, sorry). I think improving the defensive line to keep blocks off our linebackers would unleash some of the talent built up in our linebacking corps in 2006. The 3-4 requires the linebackers to be able to roam free, and that won't happen if the defensive line is easily handled. On your second point, Ohio State seems to be a great place for high-potential coaches to advance their careers. Part of that can be traced to Tressel, but part can also be attributed to the institution and the program's traditions as well. OSU has been an incubation chamber for coaches for a long, long time.
Ryan from Medina: Fellas, the knock on Edwards before the draft was that he makes the spectacular catch but not the routine. I do think that is part of the reason for some of the interceptions Frye threw. At the same time, I think it makes it more difficult for this line to pass block when you have a scrambling QB. Charlie, too many times, wants to run rather than just stepping up in the pocket. I agree with most that Adrian Peterson would be a good pick. He and Droughns would be good complements to each other. The problem comes in what we are paying Droughns. Way too much money for two running backs. Can we get an offensive-minded coach for a change? I don't mind some of the work our defensive coaches have done, like Mel Tucker, but you have MOSTLY a handful of defensive coaches running this team, Romeo included.
Barry: In the NFL, quarterbacks are very often throwing to a spot, rather than to a person. If Edwards wasn't in the right spot, then the chance for a pick skyrockets. That being said, the Browns QBs weren't helped by passes bouncing off of receivers hands this year. I think we can all remember a few interceptions that were the result of balls ricocheting off of the team's receivers. As far as bringing in an offensive-minded coach, I think that the team appears ready to do just that, but within the context of retaining the good defensive minds (Crennel, Grantham, Tucker) already on the coaching staff. The Browns need some veteran help on the offensive part of the coaching staff, and have since Crennel took over in 2005.
Jason from Caldwell, Ohio: Hey guys, great show!!! There is a lot of talk about Jim Tressel coming here. It seems to me that people are split about wanting him here. I hear from fans he has no NFL experience and what would OSU do to replace him. My argument is he is not Butch Davis He is about to win his 2nd title. Butch won nothing. He has won at every level and would set this town on fire and put it on the national map. I'M NOT CONCERNED ABOUT MESSING UP THE BUCKEYES!!! I am a Buckeyes fan but I want a winner In Cleveland first!!! And then people say he has his dream job. Every great competitor wants to be the best. Yes he could go down as the greatest college coach ever or go down as one of the best to coach the game at any level if he comes here and wins. Everyone that says I don't want him to leave Ohio State is someone that likes Ohio State better than the Browns. GO GET THIS SOON TO BE LEGEND!!!! GO GET THE SWEATER VEST!!!!
Barry: Thanks for the kind words... the show is a lot of fun for us, too. Jim Tressel may have wanted to be the Browns head coach for a long time, and I argued on the show last night that it's hard to imagine how he would improve on his record at Ohio State, especially if the Buckeyes win next Monday night. With his outstanding record in bowl games and against that team up north, this would be a great time to leave on top. While a lot of OSU fans (including myself) would love to see Tressel stay in Columbus and become a legend, there's a lot to be said for following in the footsteps of the immortal Paul Brown as well. Whatever Tressel's intentions, he's currently playing his cards very close to the (sweater) vest, and will wind up being one of the best paid coaches in the country regardless of which direction he chooses.
Jamie from Pelham, Tenn: This may be far fetched but you never know. What I am seeing is Crennel gets one more year but he is asked to bring in some new blood on the offensive staff. With Saban fixing to take the Alabama job Mike Mularkey becomes available and we grab him to become our Offensive Coordinator. That gets everything started towards hiring Cowher in '08. Now why would Cowher want to come to Cleveland. Easy, one word, "Money". After another losing season Lerner is willing to spend big money on a high profile coach. Savage will have to give up some power but I think he will be fine with that in order to keep his job. Other things that help land Cowher is: we have a 3-4 defense already in place, we have a stud at TE, we have 1 good receiver and 2 that can be pretty good, we have solid special teams, and if we draft a runningback we will have that in place. I hate to have to go through another year of this but it might just be worth it. Cowher will only be what, 51?! We would probably have him for 8-10 years.
Barry: Interesting theory... Saban heading to Alabama would have some interesting ripple effects. We'll find out what he's going to do a little after this article gets published. We'll keep your theory around on the public record. Mike from Colorado Springs told us last Summer that he expected Bill Cowher to be the team's head coach in 2008, and that prediction, which seemed outside-the-box then, looks like it's got a shot of happening.
Mike from Fremont: When will the fans hear if the browns are going to make changes to the staff or with the headcoach?
Barry: We talked about this a little during the show, and we should have a sense of where things are headed by the end of the week. It wouldn't surprise me if the team waits to see if Tressel has an interest before committing to Romeo Crennel again for 2007, which would stretch things into next week or the week beyond.
Skreeman Dawg: Having personally met Big Ted Washington, I was just waiting to hear Matt call Ted a puss...
Barry: LOL... having been pulled into Ted's gravitational pull once myself, I think I would stay quiet if that was my opinion. We had some interesting opinions expressed during last night's show and it's one of things that's fun about it. We talk to all kinds of different Browns fans with varying takes on things, and ways of expressing themselves. One of the fun things has been how regular callers have emerged to dial up the program and have become part of the show. We've been told it was tough getting through last night, and we had all four lines lit up most of the show, but hopefully folks will continue to ring us up each week.
Iko from Michigan: For the OBR, name one good reason the keep RAC other than the (lame) continuity argument. How many coaches are available that use the 3-4. Thanks and Happy New Year.
Barry: Hey Iko, that's a question that we've been asked in Ask the Insiders and elsewhere, and I've provided some long answers from my perspective about what Crennel brings to the table. I really think he had the defense out-performing their talent in 2005, especially, and really like the development of some of the players on defense, particularly in the linebacking corps and defensive backfield. Folks who have their minds made up on RAC probably point credit for those positives elsewhere, while focusing on the negatives. A lot of fans have their minds made up and have turned thumbs-down on Crennel. I think two things everyone agrees on are that Crennel needs to show that he or a better group of assistant coaches can revive the offense, and that he will be on a short leash next year if he stays (some of his more outspoken players will be on short leashes as well).
CaryNCBrownsBacker: Sad to say but it seems that we have a growing cancer in our locker room in the form of a certain WR wearing the number 17 ... will Romeo ever be able to get control of him?
Barry: I really wish we could answer this. Braylon is a little bit of an enigma - while he's brash and outspoken, he's also inclined toward philanthropy. While he drops some passes and freelances on his routes - he's still got an eye-opening burst of speed and is an undeniable playmaker. 2007 will be a key year for him: he should be completely healed from his ACL and should be the player the Browns had at the top of their draft board in 2005 again. Whether Edwards offers more on the field than distraction away from it next season may define his future and Crennel's as well.
John from Mentor: Q-WHAT CHANGES DO YOU REALLY SEE ROMEO CRENNEL MAKING? IS SAVAGE OUT OF TOWN SCOUTING THE BOWL GAMES? I JUST THINK THAT THE BROWNS NEED TO BE PROACTIVE IF THEY ARE GOING TO SIGN NEW COORDINATORS.
Barry: At present, we envision Crennel making changes at a number of offensive coaching spots, including coordinator, QB, and receivers coach. The only jobs that seem really safe are Mel Tucker and Todd Grantham. The Browns will need to be aggressive in hiring new coordinators, but may be restrained by having to wait for coaches whose teams are still in the playoffs. We've been tracking the Browns scouting throughout the college football season, but we're led to believe that Savage was back in town early this week to talk with Randy Lerner. He met with Crennel last weekend in Houston.
Tim from Virginia Beach: it seems that the Offensive Coordinator is out the door, who would be your choice for the position and have you heard any rumblings about who may be brought in for an interview? We finally need to get someone with a reputation and stop experimenting with the coaching staff.
Barry: We batted that around a bit last night with NFL insider Adam Caplan. He brought up Cincinnati's Hugh Jackson as someone he thought could make a great offensive coordinator for the Browns. We also discussed some of the bigger names like Mike Martz, but the Browns will be challenged by the need to give those coaches a promotion in order to bring them on board. Martz, for example, will likely only be able to leave for a head coaching job. As I wrote before the change was made, the Browns never really gave Jeff Davidson a chance to show what he could do as OC - he was stuck running Carthon's offense with small tweaks each week, but now may be asked to vacate the role.
Orangedawg: Guys, Are there players on this offensive line we can salvage? I know we can't possibly replace all the players! I think we need a left tackle and a guard in either free agency or the draft. do you cut coleman because of contract and move friedman up to guard or what? Your input please? 2nd question who do you cut on this line?
Barry: We've been talking for a long time on the program about the Browns need to upgrade the guard position with youngsters. The gang was pretty outspoken in hoping the Browns would take a guard on day one of the draft last year. Joe Andruzzi is a warrior, but his knees have reduced him to a fraction of his previous effectiveness. Cosey Coleman is average at best, and probably won't be back unless the Browns have few alternatives. Ryan Tucker and LeCharles Bentley are unknowns right now, so the Browns have their work cut out for them. It wouldn't surprise me if both guards and one tackle position has changed by next year. The Browns seem unable to go from year-to-year without replacing at least 40% of their starting offensive line. It's been a problem since 1999.