What We've Been Told

The pressure's on, the head coach has been left adrift, and players are choosing up sides. Lane Adkins gives the unreported story of what's really happening in the locker room. This is a must-read for all OBR subscribers.

- Cleveland Browns head coach Romeo Crennel has received no reprieve from upper management as his team struggles through a tough 2008 season. Team owner Randy Lerner has been critical of the team's game-day performance, the questionable utilization of players, clock management, and so forth. It may be even more telling that general manager Phil Savage has placed the onus of numerous issues squarely on the shoulders of the head coach. It appears that the once-strong Crennel supporter sees the handwriting on the wall.

- Despite the tense atmosphere around the Browns' training facility in Berea, a number of players have stated their case for the embattled head coach. They point to issues within the disappointing season which have not necessarily been Crennel's fault. Many players have taken it upon themselves to relay that they feel they are accountable for the bad season, and that the head coach has done everything he can as a coach to prepare the team. The gist of their message is that many within the organization have issues with the front office -- from the treatment of players, to lack of respect, and to little help when pleading with the front office for talent to buttress weak spots on the roster. 

- Not all of the guys in the Browns locker room will voice an opinion, but there are a few that gladly accommodate. Many believe Crennel benched QB Derek Anderson after another round of discussion between he and the general manager. While Crennel has the respect of players in the locker room, the same cannot be said about a general manager who is perceived to be too remote and who players claim handles personnel issues unprofessionally.

- Some in and around the Browns organization believe Crennel gave Savage his own version of the infamous "f#@* you" e-mail when he started Brady Quinn with the injured finger, then announced he was the starter heading into the 2009 season.

- We hear time after time that Crennel is responsible for the 45-man roster, while Savage is responsible for filling the 53-man roster with talent. That may be the case, but there has been more than a passing note here and there to the head coach that the younger players on the roster need to get on the field and gain experience -- i.e. LB Beau Bell, TE Martin Rucker and WR Paul Hubbard.

- Crennel will lead the team on the sideline for another week; and, if you are to believe Lerner's comments, the head coach may make it through the season. However, there are grumblings about some of those who make up his coaching staff. While no names have been specifically mentioned to this column, the word is the defensive line coach and linebackers coach are being looked at closely. Those units also happen to be two of the most underachieving areas within the roster, while also possessing the most questionable talent.

- One member of the current regime in Cleveland, and one from the past with ties to the team, expect wholesale changes in the off-season. They expect these changes to start from at the front office and run on through the roster. One highly successful NFL personnel executive notes to this column, "this team has talent throughout the roster, but they lack the attitude, coaching and fundamentals to be a strong, competitive team. Add a receiver, another defensive lineman and a couple linebackers. Coupled with a change of scheme and direction and this team is right back in the hunt."

- Over the past few weeks, the lack of communication between the coaches and players has created more than a passing buzz with some in the locker room. S Sean Jones, unhappy with the perception he has a lingering knee injury, spoke out; many others have also questioned the methods and handling of coaching responsibilities, respect issues, preparation and finger pointing coming from both coaches and players.

- RB Jamal Lewis has bottled up his frustration for the majority of the season, but could be close to his boiling point. Lewis does not understand the lack of commitment coming from the offensive coordinator to the run game and has issues with the team doing very little to take advantage of opportunities that the back and many others believe exist.

- An interesting note was bounced around in reviewing film of the team recently. WR Braylon Edwards has dropped 19 passes or passes that he could have caught. Due to those missed opportunities, the Browns failed to convert at least 16 first downs, punted or turned the ball over on 17 occasions and only scored on 2 of the possessions.

- It's not unexpected, but has been unreported - Edwards has somewhat alienated himself within the locker room, with many believing the success the player tasted in the 2007 season only magnified his "persona". Many within the team structure feel the wide receiver does not display a sense of responsibility.

- All is quiet regarding TE Kellen Winslow, but a rather large voice in South Florida tells this column the player is poised to request a trade in the off-season. With the rumors of Winslow being on the trading block prior to the trading deadline, along with the personal issue with Savage, Winslow may feel he would be best served with a fresh start.

- Looking back about 14 weeks or so, a couple veteran players on the roster now believe the team could and should have done more work in training camp. This column spoke with six players and to a man each relayed the same message: "This past training camp was one of the easiest they had been part of, and this doesn't only reflect on the players, but the coaches as well." Training camp is a time to get into prime physical condition, gain mental preparation and work into and through the schematics of the units. Mental focus has been the area of issue which troubles players and coaches, and a change in philosophy and attitude may be what the doctor ordered to change the complexion of this roster.


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