Passan: News and Views

What does Rich think of a contract extension for RAC? More lovely NFL officiating? Derek Anderson's Pro Bowl showing? Find out, if'n you have da nerve...

News & Views . . .

News: The Browns sign coach Romeo Crennel to a two-year contract extension through the 2011 season.

Views: If Crennel is still the head coach of the Browns by the time the contract reaches its conclusion, color me stunned. I believe he'll still be with the team, but in an entirely different capacity.

Unless they get dramatically stronger on defense, the Browns will continue to struggle and Crennel will pay the ultimate price. With offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski lurking in the head-coaching shadows, Crennel had better make the playoffs this season or else he'll be gently booted upstairs.

In fact, it wouldn't be surprising that no matter how the Browns fare in the next two seasons, Chudzinski will be elevated to the top spot. If not, the club risks losing him to another team, especially if the Cleveland offense continues to improve. Hot coordinators translate into hot properties in the National Football League.

Of course, a lot depends on the quarterback situation. If it plays out that Derek Anderson remains with the team, Jamal Lewis decides to finish his career with Cleveland and everyone on that side of the ball remains relatively healthy, the likelihood of a repeat of last season's offensive outburst is not out of the question.

Once word spread throughout the NFL that the Browns' offense no longer featured popguns, defenses adjusted. The Browns had trouble readjusting down the stretch, but you can be certain the offseason will produce a fresh approach to that dilemma.

One gets the feeling Chudzinski did not exhaust the playbook this past season and there are more surprises looming. Don't discount the possibility of the coordinator utilizing a no-huddle offense from time to time. And not just in the last two minutes of a half.

Anderson, providing he's still with the team, is a lot smarter than most people think. Even though he'll be in only his second season as a starter, there's every reason to believe he can handle such an assignment.

There is so much more this team can accomplish on offense. We saw just the tip of Chudzinski's iceberg in 2007. And now that the players are more comfortable with – and more confident in – his scheme, there's no telling how much better they can be in 2008.

But if Crennel and his defensive staff are unable to give the offense the boost it needs, he'll be watching the Browns from a much higher position – the ivory tower.

News: Fans cry even louder for full-time officials.

Views: A lot of good that's going to do.

Let's say, for the sake of argument, the NFL caves and hires full-time officials. The biggest problem will be down time.

What are these officials going to do after the Pro Bowl is played? The NFL, for all practical purposes, shuts down between then and the beginning of training camp in late July. That's nearly six months of inactivity.

So what are they going to do? Stay in shape, of course. Bone up on the rules book, of course. What else?

Sure, there OTAs and minicamps, but officials are not needed there. What are they going to do? How effective are they going to be?

There are a variety of reasons making these officials full-time won't work or guarantee they will become more proficient at their craft. I don't understand in what way they will become better by putting a full-time tag on them.

Football is unique in the world of sports in that games are played just once a week. It's not like baseball's every-day routine or basketball's and hockey's two- or three-times-a-week operation.

Football is a once-a-week venture on all levels. And on none of those levels is a full-timer employed. The only full-timers among arbiters are the supervisors.

It would also be extremely difficult to assemble a strong group of officials on a full-time basis in a short period of time. The guys working now have full-time jobs.

The roster of NFL officials is littered with attorneys, presidents and/or owners of businesses, men in law enforcement, educators, bankers, salesmen, accountants. Only four – referee Bill Leavy, who worked Super Bowl XL, umpire Darrell Jenkins, line judge Charles Stewart and side judge Tim Fincken– are listed as retired.

All would have to give up lucrative jobs in order to become full-time officials. Would they? Probably not. They'd have to take pay cuts.

Would you? Ditto. The key word here is "lucrative."

Recruiting officials from other levels – college and high school – would be just as difficult since those guys have full-time jobs, too.

And when the full-time group of officials is assembled and continues to make mistakes – they will because they're human – what are the fans going to say then? What's the solution?

Here's an idea: Hire robots and cameras to do the job because that's the only way you're going to get perfection. Might as well build robots to play the game, too. Don't have to pay them.

Otherwise, forget it. It's not going to work.

News: Derek Anderson gives a malodorous performance in the Pro Bowl.


The following views are brought to you by the committee to reelect Derek Anderson quarterback of the Cleveland Browns.

So what. It was a meaningless game. Meant absolutely nothing in the scheme of things.

Sure it would have been nice if Anderson had come in and played as well as Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger. Would have made you pop your chest a little and caused you to brag.

But did he embarrass himself or the Browns or the AFC squad? If you think he did, you need to have your priorities adjusted. It was an exhibition game.

And of course, his hapless showing set off another wave of "let's get rid of Anderson before everyone discovers how bad he really is" cries from all the Brady Quinn supporters. Hopefully, Phil Savage will see this for what it really was.

A meaningless exhibition game.

And the following views are brought to you by the committee to run Derek Anderson out of town.

Get rid of the guy now while teams still think he's hot. He's not. He was exposed halfway through the 2007 season and never will amount to anything.

You could see it with his stinko showing in the Pro Bowl. The rules favored the offenses of both teams and what did Anderson do? Overthrow open receivers; lock in on his primary target; look confused. Just like the second half of last season. He was even was sacked a couple of times. He's nothing more than a one-year wonder.

Savage knows that, but isn't tipping his hand. He's playing this one to the hilt. Some team is going to be dumb enough to give up a first and third for Anderson. The sooner he winds up somewhere else, the better.

As Barack Obama says, it's time for change. Maybe his Chicago Bears could use Anderson.

More News & Views next week.

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