Commentary: Wait for Judgment
Maurice Carthon

Posted Oct 15, 2006


We've watched a number of coaches and front office people be blamed and fired for the team's problems since 1999. As fans and the media weigh in against offensive coordinator Maurice Carthon, Barry argues that those who want him fired may be right, but that replacing him now would be a mistake...

 

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 scapegoats.

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. Here's why:


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 nepotism.

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 offense.


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.

 


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 -by theOBR.com  Oct 16, 2006

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