Passan: There's a Simple Answer

Rich Passan can't believe that Romeo Crennel is still employed today, but does have a simple answer for Browns owner Randy Lerner...

If there is any stunning news that came out of Sunday's embarrassing loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the season opener, it's that Romeo Crennel still has a job as head coach of this team.

How many more pathetic, lethargic, unemotional, monumentally boring displays of professional football must Browns fans endure before the plug is mercifully pulled on what this man does for a living?

Recently, Browns General Manager Phil Savage declared there is no Romeo Crennel watch, insisting that Crennel was "the right man for the job." Wonder if he feels that way today 

He also blamed the media for creating the notion that Crennel is on the hot seat and declared that there is no such seat on which his coach sits.

After Sunday's disquieting collapse, perhaps it's time to strike the match and light that fire, Phil, heat that seat and point the finger at the real culprits for putting Crennel there – yourself and the players. It sure looks like a hot seat Crennel occupies with the fans.

"If we get beat, 50-0, in the first six games, that's a different story," Savage said. "But I don't think that's going to happen." They're off to a pretty good start. "There's no one else out there who could have won more that eight to 12 games with the roster we had" the last two seasons.

Oh yes there is, Phil. And he's unemployed right now. Maybe you've heard of him. Name's Marty Schottenheimer. Used to be the head coach here at one time back in the days when Cleveland Browns football was exciting and fun and respected.

I can absolutely guarantee you a Schottenheimer team would never, ever have come out as ill prepared as the Browns did against the Steelers Sunday. That team was in no way, shape or form ready to play their bitterest rival. And there is no excuse for it.

It was just another litany of turnovers, missed tackles, penalties, botched assignments, dropped passes and lazy football in general by a team that is so poorly coached, it boggles the imagination.

The Steelers games can no longer be called a rivalry. The Browns don't put up enough of a fight in order for it to be given that title. It's just another two games on the schedule every year until the Browns can fight back.

They need someone to kick them hard in the hind flanks. That someone is Schottenheimer.

You can't outprepare his teams. He knows how to mold winning franchises. You don't compile 200 career coaching victories by luck. That's not a coincidence.

We have been told by Savage and his minions that this is a better football team than the one he took over 30-some months ago and has more talent. So if the talent is there, the victories should be close behind, right?

OK, we're waiting.

It's just one game, some will say. Why the panic?

First of all, it's not just one game. It's two miserable seasons and one game. When is enough enough?

The fans are sick and tired of getting kicked in the teeth. This is pure torture if you're a Browns fan. It soils the wonderful legacy of this team.

Schottenheimer would be the perfect choice to come in here and straighten out a team that has talent, but zero direction. He is a disciple of the 3-4 defensive scheme, had offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski on his staff in San Diego last season and would bring a fresh approach to how to play the game

Continuity be damned. This team is headed for disaster with Crennel as the head coach. Keeping him for the sake of continuity is insane. And with Cincinnati and Baltimore lurking in the shadows of the schedule, this season can – and most likely will – get ugly in a hurry.

Schottenheimer critics complain that his teams have never made it to the Super Bowl. Hard to argue that point. But at least his teams play smart football, winning football, creative football. And isn't that what Browns fans want?

Schottenheimer at least gets to the playoffs. Of course, the Super Bowl is the ultimate goal, but if you can't get to the playoffs because of poor coaching, what difference does it makes what the ultimate goal is?

He is the kind of a coach who can come in and teach the Browns how to win, which is one more step toward respectability than they're taking now. And respect is something the Browns haven't received, justifiably so, since the return in 1999. This team has no clue how to win.

In his 21 seasons as a head coach in the National Football League, Schottenheimer has experienced just two losing campaigns. That's no accident.

Right now, Cleveland's Clueless Coach doesn't know how to win. How else can one explain his 1-12 record against AFC North teams, his 10-23 overall mark and unfailing ability to put his team in a position to be humiliated way too many times?

The players like him. Wonderful. The players respect him. Great. Then why don't they play for him?

Some will argue that Schottenheimer is too old? So what if he is nearly 64 years old? Age didn't make a difference when Crennel was hired. Age has nothing to do with it. The guy can coach.

This team has to learn to walk before it runs. And right now, it is staggering around like an inebriated jackass. Four penalties on one play on a punt? Hard to keep from laughing on that one.

Browns fans want to have some fun, some enjoyment when they watch their team. As we speak, this club is just a few losses away from a fan backlash that might surprise the front office, whose inaction on Crennel is nothing short of puzzling.

Savage said recently the Browns were "going to be in good shape with Romeo . . . We're looking for our offense to be efficient; we're looking for our defense to be opportunistic and solid and we're looking for our special teams to be sound."

After Sunday's little picnic, the offense is no more efficient than a Model-T Ford, the opportunistic defense got pushed around like a 98-pound weakling and the special teams were anything but sound.

Savage also said he and Crennel "are in the business to create cohesion and continuity." If this is cohesion and continuity, I want no part of it.

To lust for an old coach to return is to deal with the stuff of which fairy tales are made. There's only one problem. It'll never happen.

Schottenheimer back in Cleveland? Not a chance. Savage would never hire him.

The suffering continues. Are you watching, Randy?  

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