Romeo Crennel is either delusional or a fool.
How else can anyone explain why the Browns’ head coach actually believes he deserves to continue in that role next season?
That’s what will be on his mind when he meets with owner Randy Lerner in the next day or two to determine his fate with the club.
Of course, he’s a man fighting for his job. And of course, he’ll do or say anything that will help him keep that job.
“I think that if given the chance, I can turn it around,'' Crennel said recently. ''We won 10 (games) last year, so I feel like we can win 10 again or win more. That's not in my hands; that's not in my control. If given that chance, I know I would do everything I possibly can to get it turned.”
In Crennel’s world, the Browns have made some progress. Let’s quickly examine that progress.
In four seasons, Crennel has racked up three double-digit loss seasons and is 24-40 against the league. He’s 5-19 against the AFC North and is still looking for his first victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Crennel wants to have his say with Lerner in an effort to save a job that has screamed “incompetence” almost from the time he took over the team in 2005. It has taken four excruciatingly long seasons for Lerner to come to a conclusion many fans arrived at long ago.
Time to get rid of the passive football Crennel seems to favor. Playing not to lose doesn’t work. Never has. Never will.
Time to get rid of the strange tactical and strategic decisions made by Crennel and his staff. Too many times we have witnessed that staff flip winnable games into the loss column.
And good riddance to Crennel’s poor clock management. How often over the last four years have you found yourself screaming at your television set when it was obvious to just about everyone when Crennel and his coaching staff failed to maximize the time? Too often is the correct answer.
Lerner, of course, will give Crennel the courtesy of explaining himself and the manner with which his team plays the game of football. Not certain why because it’s obvious a change will be made at the head coaching level.
The fact Crennel is getting an audience at all tells you all you need to know about the top management of this team. Other owners would have fired Crennel weeks ago.
And if Crennel somehow persuades Lerner the 10-6 record of 2007 is more indicative of what this club can do than the 4-12 of this season, then the owner is the fool.
Crennel is going to use this season’s Monday night victory over the New York Giants as the barometer for how good this club really is, its 4-12 record notwithstanding.
“I think we can look at that Giants game and say if we prepare like we did for that game and play like we did in that game, that is what the future can be," Crennel said last week during his conference call with members of the Pittsburgh media.
That’s the delusional part.
In using that as a microcosm for future success, he’s fooling only himself. If that’s his strongest argument for keeping his job, it’s typical of his thought process.
There is no question the Giants’ victory was the highlight of a season so devoid of other highlights, NFL Films faces a severe challenge when putting together the story of the 2008 Cleveland Browns.
So how in the world did this team lose 12 games this season if it was good enough to beat the defending Super Bowl champions on national television? What happened in those games? Good question. Hopefully, Lerner asks it.
How can anyone look upon 2008 with even a shred of optimism when you start the season with a three-game losing streak? Or blow consecutive late-game double-digit leads at home in mid-season losses to Baltimore and Denver? Or fail to score an offensive touchdown in the final six games?
Since Jerome Harrison romped 72 yards for a touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter in the Buffalo victory in game 10, the Browns’ offense has gone nearly 25 quarters and started 63 drives (not counting the one play at the end of the first half against the Steelers) covering 357 plays without reaching the end zone.
That’s nearly 375 minutes without an offensive touchdown. They’ve reached the red zone only seven times during that span and were shut out in consecutive games for the first time in team history. The opposition outscored the Browns, 129-31, in those six games.
That’s worse than pathetic. That’s worse than shameful. It’s unheard of. Even the lowly Detroit Lions are able to find the end zone once in a while.
This team has set records for offensive ineptitude and futility that most likely will never be broken
If not for an improbable 56-yard field goal by Phil Dawson against Buffalo, the Browns finish the season with a nine-game losing streak. Hardly a feat on which to hang one’s future.
The Giants’ victory? An aberration to be sure. In retrospect, it seems like a fairy tale.
But you can’t build a reputation on just one game. It doesn’t work that way. The simple-thinking Crennel seems to believe it does.
The negatives simply overwhelm the positives this season when it comes to evaluating the job Crennel has done. And the ease with which the Steelers put an exclamation point to end the season Sunday bears that out.
Delusional? Absolutely. Foolish? Most assuredly. The man is simply not a good head coach. There’s no other way to put it.
And to even consider allowing him to continue in that capacity with the Browns comes close to slamming the door on the love affair the club has enjoyed with the fans since the big return in 1999.
It’s hard to fathom that Lerner will allow such incompetence to continue.
A nasty rumor making the rounds has the Browns thinking of retaining Crennel’s services as the team’s defensive coordinator. If that’s the case, insanity has taken up residence at 76 Lou Groza Blvd.
To even think of making such a move would a blunder of colossal proportions. Whatever respect the players have for him now will disappear if he is demoted to defensive coordinator.
Just pay the man off and be done with it. Please make him go away. Then fumigate the building.