This is the sixth week of the NFL season, and we are all fans of a
professional football team based in Cleveland, Ohio.
As you know, this is about the time of the season when we turn to the serious
business of finding scapegoats, assigning blame, and demanding that those
responsible for the crappy Browns season be tossed under a convenient bus.
This is an autumn ritual here in Cleveland. The air turns cool, websites
spring up, previously oblivious radio talk shows leap into action at the smell
of blood, and we ready ourselves for the inevitable horrific end to the drama.
We're getting faster and more efficient at this whole thing. We've already
picked out Maurice Carthon, the team's hapless offensive coordinator, and it's
not even Halloween yet.
Fastest. Kill. Ever.
The case is certainly there to let Carthon join the parade of squished
The Browns finished last in scoring last season, and are currently ranked
next-to-last in the league in offense. They have yet to score a first-quarter
touchdown, a fact that has to make one ponder how much value the coaching staff
is getting out of game-planning until the wee hours of the morning.
What I am here to say to my fellow fans, however, is this one thing: wait.
I know, I know, we've been waiting for a decade. But there is truly nothing
to be gained by pushing the team to make a change before the season is over.
1. You're Going to Get More of the Same
Maurice Carthon isn't just a guy who calls the plays, takes Kellen Winslow
off the field on third down, and scowls on the sidelines. For better or worse,
he has installed an entire system, with it's own terminology, personnel
groupings, plays, and philosophy. It's based on the system he learned during his
football career, specifically with the Giants.
If another offensive coordinator takes over for Game Six, he won't be able to just hand
Charlie Frye a pamphlet on the West Coast Offense and run him out there. He
would have to employ what the team has learned and practiced. Trying to make any
significant changes during the season would be very dangerous.
Week in and week out, Frye and the team's skill players face defenses with no
interest greater than getting their name mentioned on SportsCenter as
they decapitate our offensive cornerstones.
You might as well take a sledgehammer to Charlie Frye's knee as try to change
blocking schemes at this point. The result would be the same.
The team's new offensive coordinator would need to be someone who understands the current system and
terminology, and can quickly acclimate himself with calling plays within the
structure of the team's offense.
That means, in all likelihood, you're going to have to promote from within
because bringing someone in from the outside would be impractical. Even assuming
there's a currently unemployed coach out there you actually want.
The system will essentially stay the same. There will be no major changes in
how this offense operates. Not until next year.
To paraphrase a previous sacrificial offering, the runaway train has left the
station, and you can't stop it now. Which brings me to...
2. We're Not Overwhelmed with Great Replacements
As I pointed out above, it would be a real surprise if the team did anything
else other than promote from within to fill the offensive coordinator role.
There are practical reasons for that, and not just the usual form of in-house
The only realistic candidates would be Jeff Davidson and Terry Robiskie.
Davidson supposedly has a strong rep within the NFL and considered a coach on
the rise. Then again, the same thing has been said about a number of Browns
coaches in the past.
Anyone remember Chuck Pagano, a Browns defensive coach under Butch Davis?
They used to say the similar things about him. Now he coaches defensive backs
for the Oakland Raiders and will likely be unemployed come January.
Since we're not allowed to talk to Davidson ourselves or watch him coach the
offensive line in practice, all we have to go on is the offensive line's
on-field performance. Last I checked, it was not providing a glowing
recommendation for his promotion.
Then, of course, there is current wide receivers coach Terry Robiskie, a good
guy who was demoted to wide receivers coach to make room for Carthon and
Crennel. We've seen him as offensive coordinator before, and he did little to
make Browns fans forget Lindy Infante.
Neither of these candidates would quickly turn around the Browns lackluster
3. You're Not Being Fair to the New Guy
Let's assume that the team's braintrust reads the websites and outraged
newspaper columns, and elects to get rid of Carthon sooner rather than later.
For an offensive coordinator to be successful, you need to give him a chance
to install a philosophy and a system that he wants to run, perhaps change the
roster a bit to fit the system, and bring his vision to fruition.
To fairly judge the new coach, that person would need a commitment which runs
beyond this season. You would have to promise him at least one more year. I
would suggest that Terry Robiskie has been abused by the "interim" tag enough
for one coaching career.
Neither Davidson nor Robiskie deserve to be judged by how they perform
running someone else's offense, and the Browns should not be forced to select
only from the ranks of their current staff or the unemployed.
There will be many more qualified candidates available starting in January,
and bringing one on at that point would give them a fair shot at success.
4. The Chuck-Worthy will be Chucked
As I pointed out earlier, the Browns finished last in scoring last year.
They're next-to-last in offense right now.
It's those bottom-line numbers that, in this bottom-line business, render the
rest of the discussion moot.
If they stay the way they are, I am quite confident that Romeo Crennel, Phil
Savage, and company won't need fans to tell them what they have to do. We will
get our violent interfacing of offensive coordinator with public transportation,
and it won't be a long wait.
Carthon played fullback for the Giants when Crennel was a coach there. They have a long
history together. Carthon wants nothing more than to help make his friend successful as a head coach. He's told us that himself.
Crennel probably wants nothing less than to have to fire his long-time associate.
But if Crennel has to dump Carthon, he will - after the season, when
it will do the least damage, and create the most opportunity.
We should give him the chance to do things right.