Tales from my Inbox
With my PM Inbox filling up with thoughts, opinions and questions regarding the Cleveland Browns, the time is right to address some of the topics at hand.
From the status of quarterback Derek Anderson to the improved play of the defense, we touch many issues and address everything and anything Cleveland Browns related.
If you send it, I will answer it, honestly and to the best of my ability.
That being said, it's on:
Q: What are your thoughts on the rumor circulating that Romeo Crennel could join Bill Parcells in Miami as the head coach of the Dolphins?
LA: As from my comment in the Ask The Insiders forum on the OBR –
Parcells does not hide the fact he indeed is fond of one of his former assistants. Crennel was as loyal to Parcells as any coach he had on staff with him and respects him greatly.
Hearing some noise in regards to Parcells 'potentially' having some interest in getting Crennel to head toward Miami does not come as a great surprise.
We have noted on numerous occasions over the past few weeks that Crennel was not likely to stay with the Browns as head coach past his current contract. The organization has not discussed an extension with him, which really only puts the head coach on equal footing of his coordinators. Both of the team's coordinators have been suggested as prime candidates to take over the reigns at some point in time.
I do not see Savage permitting Crennel to walk away from the organization without some sort of compensation, as John Taylor noted. Nothing is free in pro football, including letting a head coach under contract walk.
Now, back to Parcells.
Some will be surprised that he would look toward a 60-year old coach to help right the ship in Miami. The Dolphins organization is in need of a change in evaluation and leadership. Whether Parcells is the right man for the job is an unknown. But I do know that Parcells admires the job his former assistant has done in Cleveland in bringing this team back from the dead in relative short order.
The potential interest could not be in the long-term, but rather something on the lines of a two-three year plan to correct the mess in Miami and give the team a stabilizing and experienced influence.
Does Parcells indeed want Crennel to become his head coach? Hard to tell, I know I have heard absolutely nothing on specifics.
When the name Bill Parcells pops up, there is usually something in the works. Parcells has a vast network he uses help his cause; this could be much of the same.
I would not be surprised at all if he is looking toward Crennel to help restore order in Miami.
Q: If you were a betting man, what do you believe is going to transpire this off-season with Derek Anderson, Romeo Crennel and Jamal Lewis?
LA: I am of the belief the Browns will let Anderson venture to another environment if the organization can significantly benefit from multiple draft picks they would receive in compensation. If a team indeed wants Anderson, they are going to have to pay heavily, as the Browns are going to tender the quarterback at a high level, just short of franchising the QB. If a first round selection in the top half of the first round and a third can be achieved, then I do believe the odds on Anderson having a new address in 2008 increase.
That being said, I am not completely sold on the notion the Browns are going to let Anderson slip away yet, as many within this organization would like to see Anderson and Brady Quinn head into camp battling for the starting quarterback position in 2008.
Despite the rumors, keeping Crennel in charge for the 2008 season would be a solid move. His experience and stability has helped this team get into the position they are today. The organization holds offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski and defensive coordinator Todd Grantham in high regard and may be willing to let the veteran coach walk, if the price is right for the Browns.
I see the team attempting to re-sign Jamal Lewis. There is really no reason not to make this happen. Lewis has been great for the offense in general, and he has brought a sense of experience, toughness and determination to this team and locker-room which has been missing. Early in the season I was skeptical he had much left, but he has played a solid role in this scheme and could be productive for a few more seasons.
Q: Have the Miami Dolphins spoken with the Browns in regards to Romeo Crennel and Derek Anderson?
LA: I have been told by those within the team structure that the Miami Dolphins have not spoken to the Browns about either the head coach or quarterback.
Q: We hear and read much about the ‘good' Derek and ‘bad' Derek, what do you see which makes this the case week-in and week-out?
LA: I see a young quarterback who has elevated his play to the heights of the unexpected. Anderson has been good for this team at a time when they needed stability and leadership at the position.
As good as he has been for this team, Anderson does have aspects of his game which need continued attention in order for him to grow as a quarterback. He continues to throw into coverage and has issues in the short-to-medium passing game due to inaccuracy and inconsistency. This is an area which he has progressed slowly this season and may be a product of his mentality, which is similar to his play while at Oregon State.
If Anderson can improve upon these issues, he has a high ceiling. If not, he will still be a serviceable quarterback in this league for years to come.
Q: Much has been said about the short-comings of Brady Quinn and how he would do in this offense. How does he rate, in your opinion, relative to Anderson?
LA: This is not an easy question to answer as Quinn has not performed on center stage since the preseason. But... there are those on this roster and within the organization that believe Quinn has a much higher ceiling that the starter at this time and truly believe getting him where/when they did in the draft is going to be a steal.
From our understanding, in practice Quinn has been very good and is extremely quick at minimizing mental errors. I guess you could say that "once he sees it, he understands it". One claim heading into the draft and what we viewed early in camps heading into the season was he was somewhat inconsistent. He was, but under the coaching of Rip Scherer, he reportedly is now much better mechanically.
While Quinn does not possess the arm strength of Anderson, I've been told that the offense would not differ significantly, as Quinn can make all the throws necessary. One benefit I see is that the short-to-medium passing game should improve, as Quinn is solid in this area.
Again, it really is difficult to know with certainty until a player is put into that position.
Q: Heading into the off-season this team needs plenty of help to improve upon what has been a surprising season to me. What do you see as areas this team needs to improve upon to be a better team next season?
LA: Quality and depth along the defensive line is a must. If there is an area within this roster which has been a sore point, it would be the line. That is not to say the players on the roster have not played well at times, but the overall lack of depth, as well as staying with the old guard and scheme, did not work for the Browns.
Defensive end Robaire Smith has had a solid season, especially with the issues at the nose tackle position. Shaun Smith was signed in free agency to provide depth with the potential to start, which did not occur due to injuries to other players. Ethan Kelley has been a surprise once replacing Ted Washington.
I believe another significant defensive end is a necessity, as well as another nose tackle. Couple this with another ball-hawking type linebacker and the Cleveland defense would vastly improve, as long as the defensive coaches display some faith and let this team attack more often.
And, let's not fail to mention this team needs a viable third receiver to help relieve pressure on the passing game when the defense rolls and schemes to minimize the impact of Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow.