Crennel Never Made Excuses

The now-fired Browns coach took the blame even when he wasn't at fault.

Now that the 2008 season is history, the Browns can do what they have done so often, though never well: Start over.

General manager Phil Savage was fired Sunday night, less than three hours after the Browns lost 31-0 to the Steelers.

Coach Romeo Crennel was notified that he was also being let go on Monday.

Hoping to build on the 10-6 record of 2007, the Browns entered the season with high hopes. Instead they won only once in their last nine games and finished 4-12.

Injuries played a huge role in the crash, but they weren't the only reason the Browns fell.

Crennel never made excuses. He took the blame when the Browns lost, even when losing was not his fault. He said from the beginning the only way to judge a head coach was by wins and losses. In four years on the job, he was 24-40. He was 5-19 in the AFC North -- 0-8 vs. the Steelers.

What went right: Not much went right for the Browns this season, but they did improve at nose tackle when they traded a third-round draft choice and cornerback Leigh Bodden to the Lions for Shaun Rogers.

Rogers led the Browns' defensive linemen with 81 tackles and led the team with 4.5 sacks. Rogers did not have a sack the last half of the season, but not because he slowed down. It was because opponents double-teamed and sometimes triple-teamed him.

Kicker Phil Dawson was another bright spot. His field-goal accuracy, considering he has to kick in Cleveland Browns Stadium, is amazing. He made 30 of 36 field goals. His 56-yard field goal, the longest of his career, won the game in Buffalo.

What went wrong: Let's start with Aug. 9, when Braylon Edwards decided to run sprints in his stocking feet. He was racing teammate Donte Stallworth. They got tangled and Stallworth spiked Edwards on the back of his right heel.

Edwards missed the final three preseason games and was never sharp. He dropped at least 16 passes, including one that would have been a touchdown to put the game away against the Ravens on Nov. 2. It was far different last year when Edwards caught 16 touchdown passes.

Edwards' problems were compounded by Joe Jurevicius missing the entire season on the physically-unable-to-perform list because of problems arising from a staph infection in his right knee. On top of that, Stallworth missed the first four games with a quadriceps pull and Kellen Winslow Jr. missed the last four with a high ankle sprain.

The offensive line was another disappointment. The group that played so well together last season never got into rhythm this year. The only difference in personnel was Rex Hadnot at right guard instead of Seth McKinney or Ryan Tucker. Tucker missed the first four games recovering from hip surgery, played in one game and then missed the final 11 recovering from knee surgery. It is no coincidence the one game he played was the 35-14 victory over the Giants.

The defense was improved from last year, but tackling was inconsistent.

 


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