In the final months of President George Bush's presidency, it has been in vogue to pile on his administration and cast all of the ills of the country at his feet.
The same could be said for the Phil Savage administration.
We're going to make a case for keeping Savage as the team's person in charge of procuring personnel.
It was just a couple of years ago that marketing guru John Collins tried to oust Savage. An outcry from the fans helped save Savage's job. I will be the first to admit that I've been disappointed with some of the actions of the GM, but for the Browns' sake, I'm more interested in the personnel side of the Browns than the marketing of the team.
If Collins had won the power battle back then, I think the Browns would be in far worse shape than they find themselves in now. I don't think the Browns are as bad as their record has been this year, nor do I think they were the world beaters they were made out to be prior to the 2008 season.
I think the Browns needed every thing to go their way from the beginning and when they unraveled against the Giants in the second preseason game, they never recovered. I think with a couple of key off- season moves in the draft and free agency they can be in contention in 2009.
Heading into the off-season, it is imperative to figure what they want to do on defense. If they stay in the 3-4, they must get an impact linebacker that can be a game changer. They need to find a pass rush either through someone presently on the roster or go get one. They also need another cornerback, although if Daven Holly can return to prior knee injury form that will help.
For fans to think that Savage does not ask Romeo Crennel what he wants in terms of personnel is to be naïve. Crennel has had four years to put together the 3-4 scheme he wants and the defense is not the strength of the Browns. I am not sure why a player like Ty Law or any of the free agent veteran cornerbacks were not brought in to bolster the secondary. I feel Terry Cousin and Travis Daniel were little help. I also don't know why a linebacker like Roosevelt Colvin wasn't brought in to add to the linebacker corps. The same could be said with regards to a veteran wide receiver when Joe Jurevicius was going to be sidelined and Donte Stallworth pulled up lame for many games.
With all that said, whether Crennel didn't want to add anyone or Savage didn't, is beyond me, but Savage is learning on the job as a GM. I think he has much more upside and there is no reason to let him cut his teeth with the Browns and then go somewhere else and build a dynasty. Browns fans have seen that story before.
The grass isn't always greener on the other side. Marty Schottenheimer returning to be the GM type is not that exciting of a prospect to me. One only has to remember Mike "Mad Dog in a Meat Market" Junkin to dismiss Marty's scouting expertise.
Prior to Savage's arrival, the Browns had just one Pro Bowl player from 1999 to 2004. Last year, the Browns had six Pro Bowl players. Granted, Kellen Winslow and Ryan Pontbriand were brought to the Browns by Butch Davis.
Let's look at the track record the past four years. We'll place the personnel moves in three categories—positive, negative and to be determined. We call a move positive if it resulted in the player being a productive member of the team at the time. Pertaining to unrestricted free agents, Gary Baxter and LeCharles Bentley, we rated them as positives as it was no one's fault they had career ending injuries.
- Braylon Edwards and Brodney Pool (draft)
- Derek Anderson, Joshua Cribbs and Jason Wright (waivers, undrafted free agents)
- Joe Andruzzi, Brian Russell and Gary Baxter (unrestricted free agent)
- Charlie Frye, Antonio Perkins, David McMillan, Nick Speegle, Andrew Hoffman and Jonathan Dunn. (draft)
- Cosey Coleman, Jason Fisk, Kyle Richardson and Matt Stewart (unrestricted free agents)
- Kamerion Wimbley, D'Qwell Jackson, Leon Williams, Jerome Harrison and Lawrence Vickers (draft)
- Hank Fraley (trade)
- Daven Holly (free agent)
- Joe Jurevicius, Willie McGinest, Kevin Shaffer, Dave Zastudil, Darnell Dinkins and LeCharles Bentley (unrestricted free agents)
- Travis Wilson, Demario Minter, Babatunde Oshinowo and Justin Hamilton (draft)
- Bob Hallen, Ted Washington (unrestricted free agents)
To Be Determined
- Isaac Sowells (draft)
- Joe Thomas, Brady Quinn, Eric Wright, Brandon McDonald, Syndric Steptoe (draft)
- Jamal Lewis, Antwan Peek, Robaire Smith, Shaun Smith, Seth McKinney and Eric Steinbach and Seth McKinney (unrestricted free agents)
- Charles Ali (undrafted free agent)
- Chase Pittman (draft)
- Kenny Wright (unrestricted free agent)
To Be Determined
- Melila Purcell (draft)
- Alex Hall (draft)
- Rex Hadnot, Shante Orr (unrestricted free agent)
- Shaun Rogers, Corey Williams (trades)
- Travis Daniels (trade)
- Donte Stallworth and Terry Cousin (unrestricted free agency)
To Be Determined
In adding up the scorecard, by my calculations, 2005 had eight positives and 10 negatives, while 2006 had 13 positive, six negative and one TBD.
2007 had 13 positive acquisitions with two negative and one TBD. 2008 shows five positives, three negatives and four players the jury is still out on.
When all is totaled there are 39 positive moves, 21 negative moves and six still to be determined. That's close to 65 percent to the good side.
Savage has been pretty good in hitting on first- and second-round draft choices. Braylon Edwards, Kamerion Wimbley, Joe Thomas and Brady Quinn are all good players and Brodney Pool, D'Qwell Jackson and Eric Wright are, as well.
So, before everyone is excited about change for the sake of change, be careful for what you ask. A re-tooling process might be a lot more favorable than a complete rebuilding process.