What We've Been Told

Lane Adkins has been talking to sources around the NFL, and some of the stories now coming out regarding the 2008 Browns are mind-boggling. Here's the latest buzz about the Browns from around the NFL...

-- The departure of T.J. McCreight on Friday came as a surprise to many within the Browns organization McCreight had been overseeing the personnel department since the termination of general manager Phil Savage. McCreight was rumored to be in position to remain with the new staff in Cleveland.

First, theOBR disclosed potential issues in securing the services of George Kokinis in our insider blog last week. This was followed by breaking news regarding the Browns investigating the source of leaks within the organization. It's hard not to connect the dots in a way that has McCreight himself being tied to issues coming out of Cleveland.

-- Savage, meanwhile, remains a hot topic despite having departed nearly a month ago. We've been told that Savage was directly involved or responsible for no less that five strikingly unprofessional issues. A particularly alarming suggestion is that Savage relayed information to the head coach on various topics on "behalf" of the team owner... but which did not actually come from him.

-- In talking to no less than a dozen front-office types this past week, each stated the Browns organization was in disarray, filled with mistrust and ego-driven persons working on their own agendas. Those we talked to noted that they believe Savage will face a difficult challenge in holding a significant front office role again, outside of possibly returning to the Baltimore Ravens

-- Despite being the man under the spotlight for the dismal failure of this team in the 2008 season, former head coach Romeo Crennel gained respect throughout the league and especially with the owner of this team for his handling of affairs.

Crennel kept matters quiet, which was a difficult task with the amount of talk and speculation surrounding the organization. The season may have been a disappointment, but Crennel did not receive nearly the support he deserved as head coach of the Cleveland Browns. Crennel was in over his head and the organization is attempting to put a structure in place to ensure the head coach and general manager never again are adversaries.

-- Again, it is time to put to rest the speculation regarding Scott Pioli, the one-time perceived front-runner for the Browns GM post. Pioli and Randy Lerner did discuss the organization and philosophy at length, although there was no offer forwarded by the Browns. Heeding the advice of his long-time front office exec Ernie Accorsi, Lerner's process took him to hiring a strong head coach first - Eric Mangini - then filling the bases with persons displaying the experience and ability to work within a structure.

-- Accorsi is happily retired and has put off opportunities to return to the game, although Lerner is believed to want the veteran executive to play a role of prominence within the Cleveland front office.

-- Those familiar with new GM George Kokinis and head coach Eric Mangini have been sending positive signals to this column, lauding the duo's professionalism and expertise. While Mangini will never win any popularity contests, he is 100% dedicated to bringing a winner to Cleveland and will not let players rest on their laurels. The days of soft training camp practice sessions - and selected players taking it easy due to their status - is over. The hungry will earn a roster spot over a players with numbers.

As for Kokinis, anticipate a difference in players and attitude in and around the Browns organization. Kokinis will be a hands-on leader, and not an absentee executive. A promising aspect outside of Kokinis's demeanor is his philosphy - which lends to finding players that fit the coaching scheme, rather than finding athletes and trying to slot them into unfamiliar roles.


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