General manager Phil Savage is correct. He has accumulated enough talent through the draft and free agency to bring championship-style football to Cleveland. What he lacks, however, is a head coach who knows how to make the right decisions in clutch situations.
As a result, the Browns are now 0-2 following a disheartening 10-6 loss to the Steelers Sunday night at windy and rainy Cleveland Browns Stadium in a game Savage called the most important in his era.
If this indeed was the “defining” game of the 2008 season, as Savage predicted it would be, then it’s time for the GM to start looking for new head coach, a guy who knows clock management AND when and when not to kick field goals.
It’s obvious that Romeo Crennel knows neither. If this game, or the opener against the Cowboys, defined Crennel’s ability as a head coach, I’m sure that Savage rues the day he decided to give Crennel a contract extension this past off-season.
Clock mismanagement and horrible play calling cost the Browns at least three points at the end of the first half against the Steelers. Then, as the final minutes ticked away, Crennel’s decision to go for a field goal rather than a first down had the sellout crowd howling with disgust.
And for good reason.
Had Crennel gone for a first down and not made it, the Browns would have needed a touchdown to have a chance to win. But in that he had Phil Dawson kick the field goal, well, the Browns still needed a touchdown to have a chance to win.
Some will argue that by kicking the field goal, the Browns would have had a chance to win the game with a touchdown. And that’s true. But considering how difficult it was for either team to move the ball with any consistency in a game played in the remnants of Hurricane Ike, the chances of the Browns even getting in scoring range again in the final two minutes was remote at best.
Crennel’s questionable decisions against the Steelers came on the heels of an incredibly boneheaded decision to kick a field goal in the closing minutes of the season-opening blowout loss to the Cowboys.
In that game, I thought Crennel was merely stealing a chapter from Bll Belichick’s playbook. Remember back in 1995 when Belichick decided to kick a field goal in the closing seconds of a 31-13 loss to the San Diego Chargers. I believed then, and still believe today, that Belichick made that call just to take the heat off his players, who had played a putrid game.
Instead of the fans calling the radio talk shows to blast the players, they called in to question Belichick’s sanity for having Matt Stover kick a meaningless field goal.
This past week, many of the callers to radio shows concentrated on Crennel’s decision to have Dawson kick a field goal that only meant something to fantasy league players who have Dawson on their team. The players, including Braylon Edwards who dropped four passes, were spared much of the criticism.
But Sunday night against the Steelers, we found out for sure that Crennel doesn’t seem to have a clue when it comes to making quick, critical decisions. He might very well be a great defensive coach, but he is NOT a great head coach. He’s not even a very good one.
In fact, in my opinion, he is the weakest link on this team.
After the Steelers debacle, Savage has to know that fact better than anyone.
The Browns had a golden opportunity to finally end their losing ways against the Steelers, who have won 10 straight in this series and now enjoy a 56-55 lead in the overall regular-season meetings.
Crennel is now 0-7 against the team’s biggest rival despite the fact the talent level is now very comparable. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the head coaches.