Derry: The Marty Temptation

Frank Derry likes the idea of the return of Martyball, especially given what we saw this Sunday. Browns fans need new hope after the disaster of 2008...

There's nothing like a good NFL game on a cold Sunday afternoon. And, believe me, the Titans-Browns game was nothing like a good NFL game. At least from the Browns' standpoint. 

For the Titans, it was a great afternoon. The 28-9 victory clinched the AFC South title and allowed head coach Jeff Fisher's team, now 12-1, to take a step closer to clinching home field advantage throughout the playoffs. 

The Browns, on the other hand, performed like a team merely playing out the schedule. As might be expected, they showed some early life, building a 6-0 lead. But once the Titans woke up, the under-manned, under-achieving and under-motivated Browns had no chance whatsoever. They might has well have stayed in the locker room at halftime.  

The Titans dominated in virtually every aspect of the game. With no running game whatsoever – 35 yards on 19 carries (1.8 avg.) -- third-string quarterback Ken Dorsey had about as much chance passing-wise as a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest.  

Dorsey, playing because of injuries to Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson, looked like a guy who hadn't started a game in three years, which is exactly what he was. Short passes, long passes, intermediate passes, it didn't matter. He could throw them all with equal inaccuracy, finishing 22-for-43 for 150 yards and one interception.  

The offense, with three different starting quarterbacks in three weeks, has not scored a touchdown in any of those games. And the defense, which looked solid against the Colts, was Swiss cheese against the Titans' running game that often times moved at will in racking up 235 yards. 

The only time there was any chance for the Browns' offense was when Joshua Cribbs was given a chance to play quarterback. Using Cribbs in that role isn't the same farce as when Chris Palmer used Kevin Johnson at quarterback during the 2000 season. 

Johnson had gone to Syracuse as a quarterback, but was quickly switched and made his name as a wide receiver. Cribbs, meanwhile, was a proven college quarterback, having put up some impressive numbers while at Kent State University.  

In his limited opportunities against the Titans, he showed some incredible flash on his dashes, the longest of which was wiped out by a holding call. He also showed a fine touch on his long toss to Braylon Edwards that apparently was caught out of bounds. 

I say apparently because even though Edwards caught the ball on the sideline with possibly a toe on the white stripe, head coach Romeo Crennel opted not to challenge the play. He obviously was fearful of losing one of his vital timeouts that he "wisely" used in the final minute with his team down by 19.  

That only served to fire up the Titans, who took out their displeasure on Dorsey with several rough hits that left his body even more battered and bruised than it already was. Once Crennel saw the Titans were pinning their ears back and taking aim at his third-string quarterback, he should have thrown in the towel. No one with a brain would have questioned the move. It was even more ridiculous decision-making by the man who already has one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel. 

Crennel, even if the Browns should miraculously win their final three games, will not get another year as did his fellow former Patriots coordinator, Charlie Weis, at Notre Dame

Speculation before the game had former Browns head coach Marty Schottenheimer being mentioned as a possible replacement for Crennel. That would not be a bad move, although I still prefer Bill Cowher. 

Schottenheimer, who served as the Browns' head coach from midway through the 1984 season through the '88 campaign, would bring an impressive resume, both as the Browns' coach and from his other stops along the way. He took the Browns to the playoffs four straight years, including twice to the AGC title game. 

Just last week, Schottenheimer said in an interview on the NFL Network, that he had no desire to get back into coaching. From the sound of his voice, you could tell he is still bitter about getting fired after leading the Chargers to a 14-2 record in his final season with San Diego. But knowing Schottenheimer, I'm convinced he still would love the opportunity to win a Super Bowl.  

You have to think that owner Randy Lerner, after failing with a successful college coach – Butch Davis – and successful defensive coordinator – Crennel – will finally wise up and do the one thing that hasn't been tried very often in Cleveland …hire someone with NFL head coaching experience.  

Both Schottenheimer and Cowher have the ability to get the most out of their players. They can also bring in experienced coordinators and assistant coaches, both of which will be important assets in finally turning this organization around in our lifetime. 

What we saw Sunday afternoon, and in many other games this season, was a group of talented players who in no way resembled a team. They went out and played maybe 15 minutes of good football. And you aren't going to win many games doing that, which the Browns have now proven nine times in 13 tries this year. 

 


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