In the land of all things Browns, something is rather amiss. While the faces of the organization, Phil Savage and Romeo Crennel had a fairly solid working relationship in the past, pressure and events of the past year has changed the situation between the two men.
Crennel faces a tough challenge in this his third season at the helm with the Browns. Although the Browns were his first head coaching opportunity at the professional level, Crennel has been considered a mainstay in the league, a teacher, going back to the Bill Parcells era in New York with the Giants.
Despite a roster riddled with youth and inexperience at critical positions during his first two seasons on the job, Crennel's desire to play aging veterans could be his ultimate undoing with the Browns. Through discussions with a prominent member of the Browns' organization, the Orange and Brown Report has learned Savage and Crennel have not seen eye-to-eye on the evaluation and playing time of the youth on the roster.
While the Orange and Brown Report cannot definitively state that Savage is laying the groundwork for a coaching change if the team falters early in the season, this issue is a noteworthy event. Just a short time ago, it was Crennel who backed Savage during his power-struggle with former team President John Collins, which led to Collins' resignation from the organization.
The Orange and Brown Report has also learned that Savage was increasingly active in discussions with the head coach during the off-season, all in the effort to provide Crennel the type of talent he believed would make an immediate impact and impression on the roster. Expectations are high for the Browns in the 2007 season, and this year's squad is a team Savage thinks can be competitive and grow with experience.
Working the sidelines as head coach in the 2007 season was far from a certainty for Crennel late last season.
In the final weeks of last year's disappointing season, Savage pondered the future of the organization, with significant focus placed on Crennel and his handling of the team. Already upset with the lack of discipline portrayed by wide receiver Braylon Edwards, and the lack of notable enforcement by Crennel, Savage was leaning toward replacing the head coach. The mishandling of Crennel's close friend, former offensive coordinator Maurice Carthon, started the ball rolling. According to our sources, the "Carthon problem" was one of the first issues which arose that caused the general manager to begin to to question the head coach,
Late in the season, Savage discussed the issues surrounding the team with Browns' Team Owner Randy Lerner. The conversation ultimately led to Crennel and Savage was outgunned, according to a team source. Our understanding of the conversation specifically noted Savage wanted to replace Crennel with defensive coordinator Todd Grantham for the balance of the season, but Lerner - along with team advisor Jim Brown - believed Crennel was due the opportunity to succeed or fail with a roster of players he was in the process of building.
All parties involved agreed the injuries and youth on the roster clouded the overall progress of the team, leading to losses that Lerner and Brown felt could have otherwise been avoided.
As the 2007 season begins, Crennel remains on the hot-seat. Now the team must produce or the aforementioned Todd Grantham could be manning the sidelines for the Browns at some point during the 2007 season.
Until next time,