Passan: Quack?

In looking at the upheaval on the coaching staff, antagonist extraordinaire Rich Passan says if it looks like a lame duck, walks like a lame duck, and quacks like a lame duck, then it must be the current Browns head coach. Or something like that.

If there is any question as to whether Romeo Crennel's job security status might be tenuous at best, just take a look at his new coaching staff.

There are 10 newcomers on Crennel's 19-man staff (resisting the urge for a punch line here) following the off-season purge engendered by a 4-12 season.

OK, here's the stupid, little joke. How many men does it take to coach a team to yet another pathetic season? The answer: How many assistant coaches on Romeo Crennel's staff?

If numbers made the difference in the performance of a team, the cost of coaching staffs would reach staggering amounts. More does not necessarily translate to better. Quantity does not beget quality.

Indianapolis and Chicago, for example, got to the Super Bowl with 16- and 15-man staffs (sans the head coach), respectively. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the 19-man staffs of Houston, Denver, Atlanta and St. Louis watched the playoffs, along with Minnesota's 22-man colony.

Imagine that. Twenty-three men on the coaching staff, including the head coach, and the Vikings still won just six games in 2006. Talk about not getting your money's worth.

Of the 12 teams that made the playoffs this season, the New York Giants had the largest staff of assistants with 18, followed by the 17-man staffs in Baltimore and Seattle. The New Orleans Saints' staff of 20 included four coaching assistants (youngsters learning the ropes).

Phil Savage's housecleaning yielded the 10 new faces for Crennel with which to fail (glass half-empty syndrome). It might be Crennel's staff in name, but Savage's fingerprints appear all over the new overinflated roster.

None of the new men has had any past professional relationship with Crennel. In the National Football League, the good old boy network often paves the way for continuous employment. That's not the case here.

Crennel's authority seems to have eroded to the point that all he can do now is ask "how high?" when Savage asks him to jump. His credibility quotient has plummeted to embarrassing depths.

It is also quite probable that many of the men Savage sought didn't want to come to Cleveland for fear of Crennel not making it through the 2007 season. His lack of job security, Savage's and Randy Lerner's vote of confidence notwithstanding, undoubtedly played a large part in the shaping of the final staff.

Why else would special teams coach Jerry Rosburg opt to bolt to Atlanta, where Bobby Petrino began his tenure as the new Falcons coach? Rosburg was the only Cleveland assistant coach whose men performed well last season.

Can anyone explain why Steve Marshall was signed as offensive line coach instead of the more credible Steve Loney, who interviewed for the job?

Marshall, who has been out of football for a year, was the chief architect for the offensive line that played in front of David Carr in Houston. It's a wonder Carr still has his wits about him after absorbing way too many hits.

Loney took over a terrible situation last season in Arizona and required just a half season before turning the Cardinals' offensive line into a respectable unit. He was let go after Russ Grimm left the Pittsburgh Steelers to join new Cards coach Ken Whisenhut out in the desert.

Loney became the victim of a lame-duck situation in Arizona when Dennis Green was cashiered by the Cardinals. And Crennel, rightly or wrongly, is the lamest of ducks among NFL coaches for the 2007 season.

Though many of the faces have changed on the Cleveland staff, that doesn't mean the final results will be any different than last season. You can put a new face on an old body, but that body is still old and won't perform any differently.

Most of the coaching changes, as promised, came on offense with only Dave Atkins and Rip Scherer escaping the guillotine. Atkins was bumped from running backs coach to senior offensive assistant and Scherer had assistant head coach added to his quarterbacks coaching duties.

New coordinator Rob Chudzinski has a new tight ends coach (Alfredo Roberts), a new wide receivers coach (Wes Chandler), a new line coach (Marshall) and a new running backs coach (Anthony Lynn). Expect the club to trumpet "a new attitude" with all these new faces.

Chandler, also out of football last season, faces the biggest challenge of the newcomers. Harnessing the mercurial Braylon Edwards, whose talent for being a loose cannon far exceeds his talent on the field, should be his No. 1 goal. Terry Robiskie wound up with the Miami Dolphins because he failed miserably to do so in Cleveland.

You can also expect Chudzinski to attempt to bring the San Diego Chargers' offensive scheme to the Browns. Only problem is LaDainian Tomlinson is not his feature running back, Antonio Gates is not his All-Pro tight end and Philip Rivers is not his quarterback. If he wants to succeed with the Browns, Chudzinski will have to summon all his creative juices.

The defense, where help was needed just as badly after collapsing miserably in the second half of last season, went virtually untouched from a coaching standpoint. That one's hard to figure out.

How did Todd Grantham get a free pass when his men (a) couldn't get off the field on third down; (b) were one of the easiest units to run on in the entire NFL; (c) put virtually no pressure on opposing quarterbacks; and (d) had all kinds of problems against the pass in the second half of the season?

And yet, look who's back: Defensive line coach Randy Melvin, linebackers coach Mike Haluchak and secondary coach Mel Tucker. Tucker's crew had a Jekyll-Hyde season in 2006, playing unexpectedly well in the first half and getting torched on a weekly basis in the second half. Sure, injuries to the cornerback corps played a big part, but those corners were injured in the first half of the season, too.

The overall body still remains the same unless Savage gets lucky in free agency and/or nails bull's-eyes in the April college draft.

And if this patchwork coaching staff fails to improve on last season's record, one has to seriously wonder if Savage might be close to accompanying Crennel out of Berea.

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