An open letter to the coach…

Dear, Romeo Crennel:

You have problems.

Not just because your Browns are 1-5. Not just because you waited too long to fire offensive coordinator Maurice Carthon.

You have to establish a sense of purpose and confidence with your team. Right now, they are doubting themselves. They are wondering about the direction of the franchise. They aren’t just beat up physically, they are ground down emotionally.

In the end, it’s up to you give this team a sense of direction and hope.

This is more than about your future as head coach of the Browns, but as a head coach, period. Can you get your players to buy into how you want them to play for the rest of the season? Can you give management and the fans a reason to believe the team can be much improved in 2007 thanks to a decent finish in 2006?

In the end, it will come down to this: Can you handle one of the most demanding coaching jobs in the NFL?

You no longer are a fresh face coming off a Super Bowl with the blessings of Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick. Those championship rings no longer glitter as bright because they didn’t happen here.

This is a much tougher challenge than the one you inherited taking the job before the 2005 season. Those Browns were desperate for any sort of leadership and integrity. General Manager Phil Savage and you were given a chance to change players, change attitudes, change everything possible — and had a desperate group willing to try it and pulling for you to be right.

Your 6-10 record looked good after a team that was 9-33 the previous two seasons. There seemed to be progress.

This season, it’s just frustration.

Belief in your plan

Your players want to believe that your coaches have plans that accent their strengths, hide their weaknesses.

Clearly, that happens on defense.

Is that because Todd Grantham is a terrific coordinator? Or because defense is your background? Perhaps it’s because Grantham and you are not just on the same page but usually in the same sentence.

So there was no need for you to micromanage the defense.

Your offense looks at that and wonders, “Why doesn’t that happen with us?”

Some of the guys had to be telling themselves, “We really like Romeo, but why can’t he see that Carthon is not helping him — or us?”

You gave Carthon freedom to shape his own offense. He alienated veteran quarterback Trent Dilfer and produced the least productive offense in the league a year ago.

Then he ripped the media and Browns fans for criticizing him when he interviewed for a job with the New Orleans Saints at the end of last season. He uncorked the famous line about the media and friends running Belichick out of town, forgetting Art Modell moved the franchise to Baltimore.

Carthon had absolutely no credibility on that subject, and he should have been wise enough to avoid it. That also should have been yet another warning sign about his leadership style.

You had to know that Carthon’s personality rubbed players wrong, that he seemed overly sensitive to criticism despite his tough-guy image.

In the end, all this happened on your watch: The overachieving defense and the baffling, bumbling offense.

Who’s to blame?

Yes, much of the blame for that has gone to Carthon. Not all of it should.

Who hired Maurice Carthon?

We all know that answer.

But we don’t know if you actually fired your offensive coordinator. Were you forced to do it? If that’s the case, you have yet another problem.

The front office can be blamed for the roster, but the coaches are clearly your department. You were given the freedom to hire your own assistants. You picked a guy who never called plays before, despite having the title of offensive coordinator with the Dallas Cowboys.

Parcells made the calls for the Cowboys. Now we know why.

With Jeff Davidson now in charge of your offense, it’s a chance for you to establish a new relationship with the coordinator. We don’t know if you need a stronger say or more fingerprints on the game plans.

We just know that you have to get it fixed.

Davidson is a highly-regarded assistant. The New York Jets wanted to make him offensive coordinator for this season. You promoted him to assistant head coach, giving him a raise to keep him. But he’s the offensive line coach, and the line has been a mess. Is that because of Davidson’s schemes, the talent or Carthon’s big picture of the offense?

I have no idea. I hope you can answer that question, because it’s critical to the turnaround your team craves.

Maybe you should have made Davidson the offensive coordinator when the Jets tried to hire him. What was the attraction of Carthon?

Certainly you should have made this change during the bye week, giving Davidson two weeks to implement changes. Instead, you waited for — what? — a miracle on offense against the NFL’s stingiest defense in the Denver Broncos.

There is plenty of fault to find with the front office, but right now, the roster is set and not about to change until the season is over.

There have been too many things happening on the field that make no sense. That has to stop, and stop now.

Those changes have to begin with you.

Terry Pluto can be reached at Sign up for Terry’s free, weekly e-mail newsletter “Direct from Pluto” at



  1. sam Said:


  2. wheresjim Said:

    Well, Romeo passed his first big test. He turned the offensive reigns over to his new right hand man. He put the right people in the right place, kept it simple, everybody was on the same page, all pulling in the same direction and guess what? They won!

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