Q: Another week, another Cleveland loss and everything appears pretty much the same heading into the game this weekend with the hated Bengals. How can Crennel and this front office not make changes after the terrible showings by this team?
LA: I'll give you this, there does not appear to be any radical changes in the works on the personnel side of the team this week. The intensity this week around the team has been elevated and this is really coming from players in an effort to set the tone.
If the Browns can get a couple starters back on the field this week, coupled with the players-only meeting which basically revels in every game being a must game, we could see a looser team on the playing field Sunday. From the coaches to the players on the field, this team is going to attempt to make a statement in this game. This leads me to believe we are going to see an everything-or-nothing mentality in Cincinnati.
The Bengals themselves have something to prove after narrowly falling to the Super Bowl Champion New York Giants a week ago. This Cincinnati team would like nothing more than to nail the proverbial nail in the Cleveland season, which could be the case with a victory over the Browns.
Q: This pre-season, every concern was focused on the Browns defense with the offense being an afterthought. How could the vision of the organization and coaches be so wrong?
LA: Heading into the season, this organization had every reason to believe the offense would be sufficient and the defense would be improved. Injuries and unexpected inconsistency has hampered this offensive unit to the point of it looking ridiculous. The added depth along the offensive line and signing of WR Donte Stallworth appeared to be moves to enhance the roster. As we are seeing, they've simply not helped so far.
Defensively, the team has not been challenged to the point where an honest determination can be made about the state of the team defense. Early in this 2008 season, the stats for the defense are improved, but this unit has not been able to stop the opposition when it has needed to, nor has it displayed the ability to make a game-changing stand or play.
While the evaluation of the defense will be ongoing, it will be truly difficult to know what this unit is capable of until the offense can provide an assist in time of possession. The Browns have been by far on the losing side the clock battle. Injuries have also impacted this unit, as experience and pass rushing quality and depth have been lost for the season.
Q: This team has given up on the head coach and there does not appear to be urgency and fear factor involved with this team. Don't you believe firing Crennel and getting a hungry coach in his place could turn around the season before it is to late? I know Bill Cowher, he is out there waiting for the Browns to come calling, he has wanted to come back here since leaving Pittsburgh.
LA: I do not believe for a second that the players have quit on Crennel or the organization. Thcis is a team which has suffered with some injuries and has not been able to adjust to those injuries and the changes that resulted. Playing with a sense or urgency requires a team to play with a sense of confidence, and requires the coach to further instill confidence in the team.
I don't see the head coach displaying that belief in his team. The FG issues and clock mismanagement issues befuddle me. These are professional coaches on center stage, and the mistakes are inexcusable.
Some coaches have been successful ruling with by fear, or with the proverbial iron fist. It takes a special breed to be successful at the professional level with that type of temperament. I do not necessarily believe that type of coach would be any more successful than a player-oriented coach.
In some cases firing a head coach can help change the direction of a team in distress, but I do not see the Browns as being in that category. Poor execution has been a primary issue with this team, along with inconsistency, under-achievement and injuries. In the end, I am of the belief this Cleveland team will fare much better as the season progresses, but not to the point where they are likely to attaion their aspirations of getting to the playoffs.