Judging by an inability of the Browns to hire experienced, successful assistants, the coaches around the league must not expect Romeo Crennel to make it to the 2008 season as Browns head coach.
Special teams provides the best example of how the Browns have been hurt. They either did not or could not retain Jerry Rosburg, their special teams coach the past six seasons. Rosburg is now the Falcons special teams coach. The Browns replaced him with Ted Daisher from the Raiders. Daisher's only season as special teams coordinator was 2006.
The Raiders were 32nd in the league in kick coverage, 30th in punt coverage and 31st in punt returns under Daisher in 2006. The Browns shredded the Raiders' special teams when they played in Oakland Oct. 1. Joshua Cribbs had kick returns of 65 and 53 yards. Dennis Northcutt returned a punt 58 yards. They were key plays in the Browns winning 24-21, and it was not a matter of breaking tackles. Blocking was superb and the holes were wide for Cribbs and Northcutt.
Steve Marshall, the new offensive line coach, coached the Texans offensive line in 2005, the only season he had the job title. Texans quarterback David Carr was sacked a league-high 68 times. Marshall was fired. He was unemployed last season.
Marshall has the task of repairing the weakest unit on offense, possibly the entire team. He will not have to do the job alone. Mike Sullivan, the assistant offensive line coach under Butch Davis from 2001-2004, has the same job under Crennel after two seasons at Western Michigan. Frank Verducci, a former Bills offensive line coach, has the title of offensive assistant.
Offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski is in his fourth season as an NFL assistant. He was a tight ends coach the previous three.
The Browns were very secretive about the coaches they interviewed. Any names that did turn up were leaked to the media.
I'm reluctant to give names because it leads to more speculation and if you end up not getting that person, people might say that we had to go to our second or third alternative," General Manager Phil Savage said before the hiring process began.
The Browns were 4-12 last season and, though owner Randy Lerner has not announced a goal, they would probably have to be at least 8-8 in 2007 for Crennel to be the head coach in 2008. More damning than Crennel's overall record of 10-22 in two seasons is the Browns are just 1-11 in the AFC North under Crennel.
There is ongoing debate whether the assistants were hired by Crennel or Savage. The perception is at least some of the 10 new assistants were Savage's choice. Crennel did say he 'recommended' Chudzinski and Savage approved.
Whatever the case, there will be a lot of learning on the fly for Crennel's new staff. And unless the Browns improve dramatically under the guidance of assistants with little history of success, a new staff will be learning and teaming in 2008.