Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Cleveland Brown's coach search Part 1 of 2

The Brown's are looking for their 5th head coach since the 're-introduction' of the franchise in 1999. During that time, we've had Chris Palmer, Butch Davis, Romeo Crennel, and Eric Mangini, not exactly a who's who of coaching excellence.

I'm making this a two part post, the first part handles some thoughts and history of the coaches that have been here since "the Return". The second part handles thoughts on what they need and my guesses on what they will do.

Part 2: What I think they need and what I think they'll do.

Part 1 the History (as I see it):

Prior to this hiring, this organization has consistently done things backwards when it comes to hiring coaches, let's take a look at some of the gaffes.

1. When the Browns returned, Carmen Policy (great speaker, knows nothing about football) and Dwight Clark (maybe the worst GM ever) decided that they had to have Brian Billick as a coach, they waited during the Minnesota playoff run and were absolutely convinced that their offer to Billick would woo him for the job. It turns out it didn't work, Billick went to the Ravens, and Clark and Policy had not done the full vesting process for a coach search and wound up with Chris Palmer. Add in the fact that the list of candidates they had was not exactly great anyway (hard to find good people, when you aren't really that good at your job) and you have a recipe for disaster. Considering the organization had such a short window to put team together and that the head coach was brought in a bit late, Chris Palmer actually did a fair job in his time here.

2. Butch Davis was coming off a turnaround of the Miami Hurricanes program which had fallen into disarray since Jimmy Johnson had left and his pedigree as an assistant coach for the Cowboy's Super Bowl teams were typed up and broadcast all over the Cleveland area. Butch arrived and for the first two years didn't do half bad with the team, going 7-9 and 9-7 in the first two years. Then the third year came and Butch's faults shined through, huge problems from the playoff loss to the Evil Empire (Pittsburgh Steelers) led to a quarterback controversy and the next season had Butch Davis high fiving with Randy Lerner after they signed Jeff Garcia. (you see why we are so depressed as Cleveland Sports fans). Luckily that season also lead to Butch's resignation.

3. Romeo Crennel was hired prior to the hiring of a general manager. The reasoning was that he was a hot coordinator and we'd miss out if we didn't hire him. Mind you, Romeo was defensive coordinator here under Chris Palmer and hadn't been a head coach yet in his 30+ years in the league. His stock was up though as the Bill Belichick machine was running on all cylinders at the time and everyone was blinged out on new rings. Phil Savage was brought in as GM after the Romeo hire. Randy Lerner after letting go of Butch Davis seemed to indicate the desire to put an organization together and spent a couple trips visiting Philadelphia and New England, and then essentially went against conventional wisdom of letting the GM pick their head coach. Romeo wound up with one good year (10-6) where they missed the playoffs, the year itself was heavily based on a very weak schedule and some nice play by Derek Anderson, who wasn't named starter out of training camp and had a lot of success at throwing a deep ball, by the time other teams bothered to game plan for him, his numbers started to become heavily mediocre. The year following the 10-6 record, Romeo's team came out of the gate flat against a tough schedule and due to the bad start, he completely lost the team, and led to his firing. Phil Savage managed to wind up getting himself fired as well, showing in many cases that he acted like a petulant child.

4. Eric Mangini was next, after swearing that he would learn from past mistakes and go about the process correctly (i.e hiring a GM to hire a coach). Randy Lerner went out and fell in love with Eric Mangini and bid against himself in hiring him prior to hiring a GM. The coach that he couldn't let get away that no one wanted a the time. They then hired George Kokinis to be a pseudo GM, as it turned out, he had less power then we anticipated, lost a power struggle with Mangini and was quickly fired by the Browns in the new season. (Groans of uh-oh were murmured in fan's homes everywhere). After firing Kokinis quickly in the season, it was also evident that maybe Eric Mangini shouldn't have all the power in the organization. Randy Lerner at this point was constantly being asked for comment, and since no one would work for him or was in any position above Mangini, answers were few. It didn't help matters that Lerner claims to have anxiety about being interviewed and being on camera, that shows he has some understanding that he's mentally challenged when it comes to anything to do with the Cleveland Browns. (besides soccer is Randy's true love . Lerner during the middle of the season decided he needed to hire a Team President or essentially someone that could answer questions for the franchise that he had no interest or ability to do. He embarked on a search, was rejected by Ernie Accorsi and Bill Parcells and finally persuaded Mike Holmgren to take the reigns as team president.

Mangini one his last four games with some smash nose football, showing that he had at least gotten through to the players and seemed to have them on the same page. He did this while the QBs for the team managed to throw for about 10 yards a game. It was rather impressive and I think the city was sort of energized for the smash mouth football they were playing. Based on this winning streak and meeting at the end of the year, Holmgren decided to keep Mangini around.

This season, Mangini's team started off slow, but they kept games close and there seemed to be a foundation being built, something that hasn't existed in the time the team had been back. In the middle of the year, the Browns beat the Patriots and the Saints in back to back games, with the Patriots win being a very sound thrashing. All of the talk of getting rid of Mangini died down in the area, until the next losing streak happened. At that point, the critics came out and were calling for his head. With four games remaining, most felt that if he could win 2 of the 4 and play tough for the 2 losses it would be a positive step for the franchise. That didn't happen they lost all four games and the team looked like it had regressed from the beginning of the season, which lead to Mangini's firing the day after the season.

Part 2: What I think they need and what I think they'll do.

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