--There have been a lot of words, both written and spoken, dedicated to the situation surrounding Bill Cowher. The latest reports have the former Pittsburgh Steelers head coach and current CBS analyst definitely not interested in the Browns job when it comes open.
Here's what one source close to Cowher had to say about the spate of reports recently.
"He hasn't decided for Cleveland, he hasn't decided against Cleveland. And that goes for any other situation that may come open. If you haven't decided whether you are going to come back, how are you going to say you're not going to this place or that place? Besides, Cleveland still has a head coach the last time I saw. How are you going to the close the door on a job that's not even open in the first place?
"I don't know why it's so hard for people to understand. He hasn't made a final decision (on returning as a coach to the NFL) yet, and I wouldn't say he's leaning one way or the other right now. When he decides, if it's for coming back, then he'll start narrowing down whatever list he has. It's no more or no less than that right now. I think you could say there are a lot of people in the media and the league putting the cart before a horse that hasn't even been born yet."
--While there is a good portion of the current Browns roster who feel Romeo Crennel is being unjustly crucified and made a scapegoat, and deserves another year on the job, there are a surprising number of players who are ambivalent to his status and just simply want to win. "Coach is a good guy, and nobody wants him to lose his job, but there are a lot of guys in (the locker room) that are tired of losing," one player said. "It's obvious something needs to change. We aren't winning, and it's getting old for everybody. Us, the fans, the media, everybody. I'd hate to see it, but if RAC leaving will help us win, then I guess that's what needs to be done."
--Earlier this year, Kellen Winslow called-out general manager Phil Savage for myriad reasons, including not calling him during his hospital stay for a staph infection. Perhaps Savage learned his lesson, a Browns source said, as the GM placed a phone call to return specialist Josh Cribbs in order to inform him he had been named as an alternate to the Pro Bowl team.
According to the source, Savage also reiterated the club's desire to re-do his contract this offseason during the same phone conversation. That's provided, of course, that the front office remains as currently structured.
--Speaking of Cribbs, there has been some consternation on the part of the fans, the media and the player himself regarding the limited amount of snaps he received on offense in the Monday night loss to the Eagles, especially as all the talk leading up to the primetime affair pointed to Cribbs getting more touches from the QB position.
According to a Browns source, the Browns had a package of 20-25 plays specifically designed for Cribbs heading into the game. However – and don't shoot the messenger – the "success" of Ken Dorsey early on in the game caused them to pull back from their original plan of getting Cribbs more involved in the offense.
Cribbs ended up getting six touches out of the "expanded" Flash package.
--There's a misconception out there that needs a little clearing up. Phil Savage, sources say, did not push for, demand or stomp his feet and hold his breath until Romeo Crennel received a contract extension earlier this year. However, once Rob Chudzinski received his extension – an extension that at the time went past Crennel's original deal time-wise – the wheels were set in motion and the organization's hands were tied. There are a lot of things wrong with this club for which Savage can be blamed; let's not revise history in order to add one more to the laundry list.
--Speaking of Chudzinski, there's a rumor making the rounds that, if he's not retained by the new head coach, he could be in line for a coaching job at the collegiate level. A head-coaching job. I have not heard of a specific school being attached to Chudzinski's name, but that rumor has been floating around out there for a month or so.
--However, if the rumors of a return of Marty Schottenheimer return come to fruition – and there is a still a chance of that happening – there is a very good chance Chudzinski would decide to stay regardless of whatever opportunities may be out there. Even though they were together for a very short period of time in San Diego, Schottenheimer developed a great deal of respect for the then-tight ends coach.
--Savage did himself no favors in the eyes of the owner by throwing his beloved head coach under the bus twice in the span of a week earlier this month. "OK, we get it. You're in charge of the 53-man. Move on," a Browns source said.
--It's a near-consensus of people around the league that Randy Lerner will strongly push Savage this offseason to give up some of the power he's contractually entitled to. While it's still uncertain what concessions the owner would ask for, there are three very key power issues written into Savage's contract which could be in play: control of the final make-up of the 53-man roster, control of the draft and control of the salary cap.
--While most coaches do not care much about the latter two, the former could be an issue in getting a quality head coach, especially one with previous – and successful – NFL head-coaching experience.
--Early in 2007, there were rumors making the national rounds that Savage was going to either voluntarily relinquish some of his control or he would be involuntarily stripped of them. During that period, Savage was very disturbed by the reports, and enlisted the help of yours truly to put the word out that there was no truth to the scuttlebutt. It seems highly unlikely, just based on how he responded to the rumors of nearly two years ago, he would be willing to accede to any agreement which rips from him the very powers that brought him to Cleveland in the first place.