Rich's Rant: Run, Romeo, Run

Readers of Rich Passan's weekly rants might have noticed the theme of, um, slight trepidation, with the decision-making of Browns head coach Romeo Crennel. This week, Rich emphasizes the importance of Crennel sticking to coaching, or at least of avoiding making draft picks. Pay attention, Berea, of face the wrath of the Ranter once more...

Thank goodness Romeo Crennel is not the general manager of the Cleveland Browns. Thank goodness he's not running the draft for the club later this month.

He'd screw that up, too.

The coach recently revealed he would like to see the Browns draft an offensive lineman, cornerback and defensive end the first day of the draft.

Draft posturing? Possible, but unlikely.

Of those three positions, only one man is rated high enough top be considered a candidate for a top three pick. That would be Wisconsin offensive tackle Joe Thomas.

Even after General Manager Phil Savage loaded up on the offensive line during free agency, Crennel still wants an offensive lineman. Presumably, a tackle.

Let's suppose Savage follows Crennel's advice and selects Thomas (if he's there) in the first round. Where's he going to play? Does he slip right in at left tackle, bumping Kevin Shaffer over to the right side? What then happens with right-side incumbent Ryan Tucker.

And then Crennel wants to bolster the pass defense with a cornerback and pass rusher. Like that will complete the picture.

He wanted a pass rusher last year and Savage went out and got him Kamerion Wimbley. Boy that really made a difference. The club averaged less than two sacks a game. Despite Wimbley's 11 sacks, the Browns' secondary was strafed most of the season.

Cornerbacks are as good as those who play in front of them. Put pressure on the quarterback and good cornerbacks can look great.

And in Crennel's 3-4 defensive scheme, defensive ends are nothing more than big tackles. Last season, for example, the Browns' front line of Orpheus Roye, Ted Washington and Alvin McKinley are tackles by trade.

How can anyone take the coach seriously when he offered the following assessment of wide receiver Tim Carter, obtained from the New York Giants in the Reuben Droughns trade, to's Adam Caplan:

"The thing that Tim brings to the table is he has outstanding speed. Having speed in a receiving corps is always a good thing. We're going to have to see where he fits in the rotation. To see what kind of contribution he can make. The thing we like is we like the speed and that's why we added him because we like the speed. Now we have to put him out there and see where he fits."

Call it a guess, but it sounds as though Crennel likes Carter's speed and that's why the Browns went out and traded for him. Because they liked his speed. Now, they have to see where he fits. Because they liked his speed.

What about running routes? And blocking? And, um, catching the football? Doesn't that count?

"That's one of the reasons we have to put him out there and find out," Crennel told Caplan. "There are questions about consistency as far as catching the ball and things like that. But we wanted the speed and that's why we traded for him. And we'll see where we can best use him.

We get it. Speed.

It has become clear that Crennel does not see the big picture. He cannot see what this club needs most. He cannot see that his quarterbacks need help.

Despite the fact he gained more than 1,200 yards in 2005, Droughns failed time and again to gain the important yards and visited the end zone just twice all season. Two touchdowns in 16 games doesn't cut it, yet Crennel was effusive in his praise of Droughns.

Last season, Droughns was a disaster. The running game was a disaster.

A lot of the blame was assigned to the offensive line, some of it with good reason. But that group wasn't entirely responsible for the collapse.

What the Browns need more than anything else is a running game. Picking up Jamal Lewis helps. But he's not enough.

The Browns need a stud running back. They need a home run hitter. They need someone who can gain the big yards, make the big play.

They need Adrian Peterson.

They don't need a quarterback who might become a great player. They need a running back who will become a great player.

They need Adrian Peterson.

And chances are very good he will be there when the Browns select third in the draft. If they follow through on their plan to emphasize the running game this season, then Peterson would be the natural pick.

He'd be a much better value pick at #3 than Thomas, who could be the next Jonathan Ogden or the next Robert Gallery. Offensive tackles with short arms have a tendency to struggle.

Peterson, a brilliant runner, comes with the dreaded "injury-prone" label preceding his name after missing one game and parts of three others with a sprained ankle as a sophomore and much of last season with a broken collarbone suffered when he needlessly – and foolishly – dove into the end zone at the end of a long run.

Sprained ankle, broken collarbone. Nothing major.

Ripped up knee. Torn labrum. Now that's something about which to be concerned. That's major.

I'll take my chances with a sprained ankle and broken collarbone.

If he's smart, so will Savage.

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