Everywhere I go and every night on my television show, I am asked if the Browns made the right decision with their selection of Phil Savage as General Manager. The answer is simple---nobody knows. And we won't know until the end of the next three or four seasons.
The choice certainly appears solid, but the questions are understandable. After all, this decision is the biggest one that owner Randy Lerner has had to make. His previous biggest decision, the extension of Butch Davis' contract along with almost total control of the franchise, is already in the record books as a failure. And President/CEO John Collins, who oversaw the signing of Kellen Winslow, Jr., has never really had to make a ‘football' decision, yet he, ultimately will be responsible for the success or failure of Savage.
While Lerner and Collins have had the time to get a feel for their positions before making the important decision regarding a GM, Savage will not have the luxury of time before making the biggest decision of his career. While all three men will come to a joint decision, ultimately the final say has to come from Savage. And he'd better be right. It is fair to say that it would be surprising if great success came to the Browns franchise in Savage's first two years. But three years is not out of the question. Even at three years, 2007, that would mean almost twenty seasons of frustration, since the relative success of the 80's, which ended with Bud Carson's first year as head coach in 1989. As I have pointed out in previous columns, there was one playoff appearance in the 90's, and one in 2002, in addition to the three-year hiatus after the move to Baltimore.