Tales from the In-Box

How are the contract negotiations going for running back Jamal Lewis and quarterback Derek Anderson? What else is there to the Todd Grantham departure and what areas within the roster is the organization going to improve? All this and more in this version of Tales from the Inbox!

Q: I have read where you have stated the former defensive coordinator wanted to play more aggressively. The impression we have been given previously was it was Grantham's fault for the soft defense and Crennel was the one responsible for turning up the heat. Which is it?

LA: It appears that Todd Grantham lost the respect of some of his players and fellow coaches, including the head coach. When trust and belief is lost, poor results are almost sure to follow. Grantham wanted roster changes, which he did not receive in the manner which he wanted. The overall state of the defense was in shambles due to various reasons, none of which are any more telling than Crennel having to have direct involvement. I guess we could say Grantham's demeanor and approach had run its course and his voice was not heard with the same eagerness as in previous years. The head coach and defensive coordinator were not on the same page in regards to philosophy, timing and player utilization.

Q: We have read where the team has opened up talks with Jamal Lewis. Has there been any progress in these talks?

LA: Both parties have had numerous discussions and the basics have been laid out. What helps these talks will be Lewis' desire to remain with the Browns, as he sees this team as a great fit for him personally. As for the Browns organization, they want Lewis back but are a 'little' concerned about the length of a deal he may demand. At this time, the Browns are looking at a two-year deal worth a potential $11 million dollars with bonuses included.

Q: Do you really believe Phil Savage wants to sign Derek Anderson to a long-term deal?

LA: Yes, I could see Savage wanting to ink Anderson to a team-friendly deal. Anderson's reps are not going to take a deal of the Browns liking, not when Matt Schaub and Tony Romo signed significant deals in the past year. I still believe at some point Anderson will be traded. At this time, we are looking a deal of three-years at under $18 million dollars (two separate sources tell us the figure is closer to $16 million dollars) of total compensation on the table.

Q: With the talk of Romeo Crennel getting an extension, many wonder why should he get one. The team had its first winning season and he still has two more years left on his initial contract. Will this organization ever learn?

LA: Coming off a winning and successful season, the timing for Crennel may never be better to gain some stability in his financial future. If the 2008 team were to falter, then he likely would be without a job - so why not go for the extension now? The NFL is a funny group where one season of success warrants financial reward. Crennel has been a good solider and helped develop this team and the organization is appreciative of this. The contract extension means little regarding his long-term future on the sideline. If the team fails, he will certainly be fired, as the salary means little to the deep pockets in Berea for the long-term. This also addresses the issue of stability within the organization as well as commitment.

Q: The run defense sucked again last season... what are odds the team is going to fix the problem?

LA: Very good, actually. New defensive coordinator Mel Tucker and the head coach share many of the same beliefs about defense. The organization recognizes the issues along the defensive line and some at linebacker. The team attempted to help the situation with the addition of Robaire and Shaun Smith prior to last season, but injuries all but derailed any thought of consistency. Look for the team to be active in free agency and on draft day to secure talent in the deficient areas.

Q: Derek Anderson had a fine season but many people are hyped to see Brady Quinn. I understand Quinn was a first round draft selection and is the poster boy, but why discount what Anderson achieved this past season?

LA: Nobody should discount the contributions Derek Anderson made to this team in the 2007 season, and Anderson did things no quarterback since 1999 has been able to accomplish. He fit into Rob Chudzinski's scheme very well, improved his preparation habits and gained confidence.

Anderson does need to improve his overall game and skill set if he is going to be a consistent player at this level though and the Browns front office is fully aware of what Anderson can and cannot do on a consistent basis. The short passing game is an area in which he has plenty of work to do and I expect (if he is here) to be in a great race with Quinn for the starting job. I believe Quinn has better overall skills, but making the most of the opportunity and those abilities are what counts.

Q: If you could change the defense, what would you do and what end result would you expect with such changes?

LA: I am a backer of the promotion of Mel Tucker as the defensive coordinator. Communication and discipline are critical and Tucker will provide the effort in this much needed area for this team, due to his knowledge and working relationship with the head coach and other coaches on staff. Along with this change, stability and depth along the defensive line would be the direction I would take, followed by securing an aggressive, physical inside linebacker and additional outside linebacker than can play the position consistently. When we're done, we would have a team which will not be forced into 30-27 shootouts, week-in and week-out.

- LA

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