Heading into the 2007 season, the Cleveland Browns defense was expected to be solid enough to keep the team in games, while the offense sputtered along. As expected, the Browns defense was been good enough to keep the Browns competitive in most of the games.
But just barely.
If not for an explosive offensive showing early in the season, the Browns could easily once again have one of the worst records in the league. Defensively, the 2007 Browns are as porous as any squad assembled in recent memory, and the unit's performance has dropped off significantly from a season ago when the cornerback position was riddled by injuries.
Many of the faces remain the same from that 2006 team, but the results have been surprisingly poor, with the unit on pace to set team records for defensive ineptitude.
And fingers are starting to point.
Sources within the organization who wish to remain unnamed (for obvious reasons) tell the
"We have to take responsibility on what happens on the field, regardless of the situation. But, let me tell you, Grantham is a problem. He consistently has us in the wrong defense and he is too quick to pull the trigger on us," the team source tells the OBR.
There is some frustration at not being allowed to attack opposing offenses.
"We were more aggressive last season, with less talent on the field", the OBR was told. "Our corners can cover, we have guys that can get to the quarterback... but when we are schemed out of the play, what can we do?
The opposition sees this and attacks. We are better than we are showing, but until the leash is taken off or Coach (Crennel) gets really involved again, we are going to have issues."
As the defense has struggled early in the season, the most evident problem has been on the inability of the team to stop the run and prevent big plays in the passing game. While the defense was beaten over the top in the Browns first three games, the play of the defensive backfield has been somewhat improved in recent weeks.
The OBR is being told that changes might be in the works as the team's head coach, with several decades of experience as a defensive coordinator, begins to step in.
"The problem is, we have not fully committed to stopping the run. We show seven or eight up, but often we are backing off. I see some changes in the way we are going to play, as Coach (Crennel) has been more involved," the source continued. "He (Crennel) likes an aggressive defensive, as long as the corners are dependable. I expect us to press more and let us guys make plays.
Also, it is a huge help getting Willie (McGinest) back on the field. You would be shocked the number of times he was switched things up for us, getting us out of bad spots the past couple weeks."
Prior to this season, Grantham was given a contact extension and was regarded by more than a few observers as a head-coach-in-waiting, and potentially a replacement for Crennel if the Browns stumbled out of the gate. At this juncture during a surprising 2007 campaign, that sort of talk has stopped, and the team's defensive coordinator will need to lead a defensive resurgence to restore his luster.