NFL: Week Fourteen, 2008

So Long, Romeo....

by Rick Rockwell

The coaching carousel is about to spin again in the National Football League (NFL) and Cleveland’s Romeo Crennel is likely the next coach to go.

Unusually, this year, team owners reacted more like knee-jerk commentators on sports talk radio and pulled the plug on coaches early. In the past, this column has decried the early push to fire coaches. This year is a good example of why. The Raiders dumped Lane Kiffin (who recently found a spot coaching in the college ranks at Tennessee), the Rams spiked Scott Linehan, and Mike Nolan got his pink slip from the 49ers. But those early coaching changes haven’t produced results. Not one of those teams is in the running for the playoffs and most likely all will have poor records when the regular season ends in four weeks.

But now that the end of the season is in sight, this is the time to look at the coaching rosters for those who need to go. And Crennel tops the list. Some inside the Cleveland Browns’ front office are already leaking as much to ESPN.

And why not? The Browns almost fought their way to the playoffs last year. This year, the team has sputtered to four wins. Sure, both of the team’s top quarterbacks are out injured. And that’s just the tip of the injury iceberg. But the Browns have performed inconsistently all year, rarely displaying the flash of 2007. Crennel hasn’t provided the leadership necessary to keep the team playing at a high level despite problems. Perhaps his old mentor Bill Belichick can give him a few pointers on that. Belichick’s Patriots have struggled this year too with injuries, including to quarterback Tom Brady, but they are still in the playoff hunt. Of course, Belichick had his own problems in Cleveland before perfecting his coaching in New England.

And speaking of former Cleveland coaches, it's surprising to hear Browns fans are mentioning Marty Schottenheimer as a potential replacement for Crennel. Would Schottenheimer really come back? And are fans in San Diego regretting how the Chargers pulled the plug prematurely on Schottenheimer in 2006? Management in San Diego says Norv Turner, Schottenheimer’s replacement is safe for next year. But such statements of support are notoriously useless at this time of the season. Turner has underperformed too at coach, but he’s had less time running the Chargers than Crennel’s four years at the helm of the Browns, where Crennel has compiled a 20-28 record.

Other coaches on the bubble? Sure. As noted last week, Rod Marinelli is playing out the string in Detroit. There’s also a possibility that Jack Del Rio could go in Jacksonville. His team was at the playoff level last year, but was also decimated by injuries this season. Like Crennel, Del Rio has been unable to push his Jaguars back into form. However, Jaguars’ management isn’t known for making quick decisions for cutting coaches. Del Rio may get another year.

Certainly there’s been talk in Kansas City, Cincinnati, Philadelphia and elsewhere about coaching changes too. But given the history of those organizations those coaches are likely safe for next year. And after his fast start in Buffalo, Dick Jauron certainly raised expectations, and then produced disappointment. But he’s likely safe.

Mike Singletary, the new coach of the San Francisco 49ers will likely keep his job despite the controversies over his motivational tactics. But the St. Louis Rams and Oakland Raiders will likely be looking to replace their interim coaches at the end of the season. Add Jim Mora in Seattle, who is due to take over the Seahawks after Mike Holmgren retires, and you have the potential for at least five coaching changes in the league for 2009.

Week 14 Office Pool Predictions

Game of the Week: Buccaneers at Panthers (Buccaneers)
Upset Special:
Dolphins vs. Bills (Dolphins)

Patriots at Seahawks (Seahawks)
Falcons at Saints (Saints)
Jaguars at Bears (Bears)
Texans at Packers (Packers)
Chiefs at Broncos (Broncos)
Washington at Ravens (Washington)
Cowboys at Steelers (Steelers)
Eagles at Giants (Giants)
Raiders at Chargers (Chargers)
Jets at 49ers (Jets)
Rams at Cardinals (Cardinals)
Bengals at Colts (Colts)
Browns at Titans (Titans)
Vikings at Lions (Vikings)

Last Week: .563
2008 Season: .634

For other blogs calling NFL games, please see:

  • The D.C. Universe,
  • Gun Toting Liberal, and
  • The Liberal Journal.

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    Turk said...

    Crennel's firing is long overdue. People might think that 2007 was a good reason to give Crennel another shot and certainly you couldn't have fired him last offseason, but I've always felt my Brownies played well despite him last year rather than because of him. God only knows what damage Romeo has done to Brady Quinn's development by sitting him through most of a wasted season than pulling him at the firs sign of trouble after finally declaring him the starter.

    The Browns have a LOT of work to do, and it needs to start from the top down. I wouldn't be surprised to see GM Phil Savage go either, though I'm less enthusiastic about that prospect. One thing's for sure, though, and that's that when Randy Lerner, a notoriously laissez-faire owner, speaks out publicly on the state of his team, you know change is coming.

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