Tuesday, March 01, 2005

De-Butchinizing the Browns

It is a virtually inevitable fact: when a team struggles, fans want to vent. They call for the selling of the team, the clearing out of the front office, the firing of the coach, and most of all, the gutting of the roster.
Usually, fans are just acting out. When cooler heads prevail, we see it wasn't as bad as we all thought. The team starts to win and gains respectability without having a hatchet taken to it.
Then there's the Cleveland Browns.
Every Browns fan who has ever thrown a temper tantrum watching their team lose is seeing their heat-of-the-moment wishes come to life this early NFL off-season. The Browns are, indeed, gutting the roster.
If you thought Butch Davis mishandled the Cleveland roster miserably, guess what -- the new Browns regime agrees with you.
Tuesday, new general manager Phil Savage essentially told Davis what he thought of selecting defensive tackle Gerard Warren with the third overall pick of the 2001 draft. Savage laid the groundwork of a trade that would send Warren to the Denver Broncos for a fourth-round pick. Yes, a fourth-round pick.
It might sound harsh, but on the heels of Davis, who wouldn't trade Kevin Johnson for a third-round pick only to release him a year later for nothing, it is small progress.
Savage made no guarantee the de-Butchinization of the Browns was going to be a bloodless coup. He's making good on that. Savage and head coach Romeo Crennel are going to leave the bruised, battered remains of a lot of egos as they clean house. Not that egos should matter much when you have taken the reigns of a 4-12 team.
Like Warren, running back William Green was, for all intents and purposes, shown the door last week when his agent was given permission to seek a trade (translation: get your underachieving client and his personal baggage the &%#@ off our team).
Robert Griffith, not the head case Warren or Green is, was also released late last week. Griffith was a mature guy and didn't disgrace the organization off the field like Warren or Green, but he was also one of Davis' prize free agent pickups. Like so many of Davis' moves, it didn't really work. Maybe Griffith was the high-paid poster boy for the previous regime's ineptitude.
Of course, you can't talk about cleaning house in Cleveland without bringing up Jeff Garcia, who met with the Buccaneers on Monday. A year after the Browns outbid the Bucs and themselves to sign Garcia, he will probably wind up inking a deal for peanuts with the team the Browns should have let him go to in the first place.
More roster beheadings are sure to come. Punter Derrick Frost, tackle Ross Verba and defensive lineman Courtney Brown are at the top of the suspect list.
Only once the blood-letting is complete can Savage then concentrate on bringing in quality players he (hopefully) did his homework on before laying down the cash, unlike Davis.
Even in the rags-to-riches, parity-driven NFL, this ordeal may take several years before Cleveland fans can start reaping the benefits and watch their team climb up the standings.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

With the trades and acquisitions made going into the draft, plus the bulk of the team that is carried over from last season, and the trades and draft picks made during the draft, it sure seems like the Pats are going to be the team to beat in the AFC this season, and perhaps in all of the NFL.

Considering the Pats were almost in the Superbowl last season with a pathetic receiving corps and that they've added very talented players into said receiving corps this season, barring some nasty injury(ies), they look to be the team to take it all.I say injury(ies) because I think they could survive an injury or two to some positions, but if they lost Brady they'd probably have a hard time recovering.

I wish I could say that the Redskins did well in the draft and/or in free agency but so many holes still exist that I'm not sure they'll be significantly better than last season. I suppose on face they should be if they can keep their corners healthy. With Landry (argh, hard to type that name as a Redskin!!) back there with a healthy secondary they might be able to cheat up more and put more pressure on opposing QBs. Might.

They still have what should be a lot of talent in the receiving positions, and Campbell should be better, but they don't have the quality on either line (offense or defense) that I wish they'd have, so it could be yet another year of .500 at best, or worse.

Still, the NFC East looks to be the NFC Least again this season. None of the teams there look like they'll be that good, and none really look ready to step up and take the division.

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