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Pluto on the money again, as usual

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BEREA -- At his press conference Tuesday, Browns owner Randy Lerner admitted his team has no real identity.


Hey Randy, want to know why?


Because that starts with the coach.


Lerner's general approach of hiring football people, sitting back and then holding them accountable is the correct one. But that means the franchise must have a general manager or coach who can say, "This is the kind of team we want to have, and this is what we expect from the players."




General Manager Phil Savage believes that is primarily the job of the coach. Savage believes his role is to get the best players possible, and allow the coach to use them -- and to be voice of the team.


In that role, Romeo Crennel has failed. He comes across as a wonderful man to have in the foxhole with you when the bombs are falling. He will support you, and he has your back covered.


But Crennel does not inspire most men to charge up the hill and plant the flag. He does not explain himself or his approach to the game with much passion or clarity. He seems surprised when Braylon Edwards, Kellen Winslow or another players acts up, and appears in physical pain when they require any sort of discipline.


As long as Crennel is the head coach, the Browns will seem like a team that is muddling through, making it up as they go along. There can be a dictionary of Crennel's baffling coaching decisions.


Name a letter, you find a questionable coaching move.


How about T, as in throwing 32 times compared to 20 runs in a game against Houston where Brady Quinn had a sore finger. Or Q, as in pulling Quinn after two interceptions in the third quarter -- the last as much on Edwards' failure to run the pattern as the pass. Or S for stubborn, as in sticking with a 3-4 defense when the team lacks the depth at linebacker to make it work.


Then there's H, for not enough Jerome Harrison. Or F, for Field Goal, as in too many. Or B for Blitz, something that is lost in the defensive playbook. Or P, as in 0-7 vs. Pittsburgh. Or E as in "expectations," something for which Crennel could not prepare his team to handle in this season.


The only reason to keep Crennel for the rest of the year is interim coaches don't work and there is no natural replacement on the staff. Out of the 20 assistant-types listed in the Browns' media guide, only Rip Scherer has any experience as a head coach at the NFL or college level -- at James Madison (1991-94) and Memphis (1995-2000).


That's it, one guy. And that says something sad about Crennel's staff, especially since he was not a head coach at any level before taking over the Browns in 2005.


The identity of a franchise can come from the players, but that has yet to happen in the 10 years since the Browns have returned.


The players who have a chance to lead and inspire the fans such as Joshua Cribbs, Joe Thomas and Brady Quinn are too young and haven't done enough yet. Veterans Jamal Lewis, Andra Davis and Willie McGinest have the respect of the players, but lack the kind of talent to put their stamp on the franchise.


Shaun Rogers may develop into a team leader, but he just arrived this season. The most gifted players are Winslow and Edwards, who have spent too much of their careers on their own agenda.


The Browns' situation screams for a strong coach. But it can't be another Butch Davis, who had little strength behind his bluster and lust for power. Yes, Bill Cowher is the obvious candidate who would electrify the fans and immediately have the attention of the players because he has won big in the NFL. But who knows what Cowher will do?


After the 2006 season, I wrote in Akron that the Browns should seriously consider replacing Crennel with Marty Schottenheimer. I still think that would have worked, because Schottenheimer would have brought some structure and a powerful voice to a franchise that still needs it.


It's hard to know if Schottenheimer would be the right guy now at the age of 65. But no matter what Lerner decides to do with Savage, the owner's first move after the season is to find a coach who has experience, a coach the players and fans can believe in.




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I cannot find much to disagree with here. Romeo needed to be taken out behind the stadium, excecuted and tossed into lake erie after the Houston game. How on earth does Jamal lewis get only 2 carries in the first half. TWO CARRIES IN THE HALF...AGAINT HOUSTON!!!!

Then when Lewis is schredding them in the 3rd qtr at 5-6 yards a pop.. he ends up standing on the sideline. You can scream about the OC.. But Romeo is the coach... He has to go. That last game vs Houston made me sick.

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Pluto really is good. He has a true writer's knack for saying things clearly that many only vaguely feel.


And this struck a chord for me because I've been saying for weeks that our offense has no identity. Reading this, I'm struck that perhaps I'm thinking of it all wrong.


The confusion and hesitancy of our offense (and defense, actually) are not the lack of an identity, they ARE its identity.


Pluto's right about RAC being someone you want at your back. He's calm, cool, strong and even-tempered to the point of placidness.


But the guy you want at your back is not usually the guy you want at the front.


The guy at the front should elicit strong emotion, a desire to move forward with confidence and strength, to achieve, to WIN.


I think we have players with those attributes in Cribbs, Lewis, Rogers and Quinn and maybe Winslow when he's not pouting. And we have plenty of good soldiers too.


But we lack that strong leader. I'm afraid Terry's right, as usual.

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