I am a huge fan of the Ron and Fez show on Sirius XM Satellite radio. They do a bit on the radio called life boat, and I’m borrowing it for Cleveland sports. Here’s how it works. There are four people and only three seats remaining on the life boat. You must work your way through the list of candidates and, unfortunately, someone is designated to try their hand at long-distance swimming.
A couple rules.
1. You MUST pick three people to ride in the boat. “Let them all drown!” isn’t an interesting answer and frankly, you’re not funny. It’s been done, so skip it.
2. Don’t use an overly silly premise for your answer. Life boat is a silly enough premise where you aren’t going to “wow” anyone with your take that you should “keep the fatter guy because at least when we turn to cannibalism, we’ll have someone tasty to eat!”
So, this Cleveland sports life boat is Browns coaches. The candidates are:
Butch Davis, Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini, Pat Shurmur
Craig – This turned out to be a bit easier than I would have thought, originally. Let’s run through them. Butch Davis is safe. Yes, he ruined his Browns tenure with a power grab with his buddy Pete Garcia. Yes, he quit mid-season in a disgraceful manner. Still, in terms of quality, I thought he was one of the better coaches the Browns have had since 1999. Eric Mangini is next safest. He was tasked with an almost impossible job between Randy Lerner’s leadership vacuum and not having a real general manager. Yes, he made many of his own problems, but ultimately I think history looks pretty kindly on Mangini and his run in Cleveland.
So that puts the test to Romeo Crennel and Pat Shurmur. I like both Crennel and Shurmur as men, probably more than Butch Davis. Ultimately even as infuriating as Shurmur’s offense was to watch, and even though Romeo Crennel had one great year for the Browns, I have to let Crennel swim. I still credit Rob Chudzinski with that nice year for the Browns as new offensive coordinator for the Browns. Pat Shurmur is saved, believe it or not.
Romeo Crennel was given four seasons and still only got lucky one year. Even though he was building it slowly, I did think there was direction, growth and improvement with Shurmur. It was just too slow. Crennel’s system always seemed to be the definition of entropy.
Andrew- I really don’t want to do this one. I think 3 of the 4 are awfully bad head coaches, with only Butch Davis being a mediocre coach. But, we’re required to save 3, so I have no choice.The first one I’m saving and the only one I think is a decent football coach is Butch Davis. Butch has found some level of success pretty much everywhere he has been. He turned Miami around, he took the Browns to the playoffs, he even made North Carolina somewhat respectable for a couple years there. Sure, he flames out quickly, but he can coach and he’s been the best coach the Browns 2.0 have had.
I don’t think any of the 3 remaining guys are good coaches. But I’m saving Mangini next. Why? Because he’s the smartest of the 3. He is undeniably smart when it comes to football. Maybe too smart for his own good as a coach. That’s why I think he’s a better analyst than coach. But he’s easily safe.
So, Shurmur or Crennel? Hmmm. Let me flip this coin real quick……. ok, it said I should save Crennel. I like Romeo a lot as a human being. I think he’s a great man who loved his players. Shurmur was stubborn, unpleasant, combative with the media for asking questions that needed to be asked, etc. Sorry, Pat, no room on my boat for you.
TD- To me, this one is real simple. Butch Davis, while his ego-centric actions derailed his once giant promise as a head coach, actually was the only man to take the Browns to the playoffs in the “new era.” Romeo Crennel was a great guy, but a below average coach as we know. However, he was the head coach of the best season since 1999, the 2007 10-6 team that fell just short of the playoffs.
I still say Eric Mangini was the best pure football coach the Browns have had since their return. I know the records don’t show it, but in his final season captaining the SS Brown and Orange, his team beat the New Orleans Saints and the New England Patriots – two of the leagues top teams, and for the most part were in every game. Not to mention, he did this with rookie Colt McCoy forced into duty. Mangini’s Browns team were also always prepared, ready to play, and didn’t commit dumb penalties.
So, that leaves us with the man who easily is left to sink, the completely ill-prepared and not ready for prime time head coach Pat Shurmur. Do I really need to get into why? If I hadn’t seen Chris Palmer, I would say that Shurmur was the least equipped Browns head coach i’ve ever seen.
Scott – Who got it done? Who didn’t? Butch Davis got the Browns to the playoffs. Yes, he replaced Tim Couch with Kelly Holcomb — among many other club-resetting moves — but he was a Dennis Northcutt catch away from getting a shot to play for the AFC title. Romeo is safe as he somehow managed to get this team to win 10 games regardless of how big of a fluke the whole situation was.
The last spot comes down to Eric Mangini and Pat Shurmur. I really want to hold Mangini’s tenure as GM against him as his first draft — my God, that second round — set the team back several years and ultimately cost him his job. But, we’re saving coaches, not coaches who wanted to play executive at the same time. If it came down to play-calling and getting the most out of what you have — essentially the job description of a head coach in the NFL — the nod goes to Mangini. Sorry Pat, you just didn’t, to borrow a phrase, win enough games.
Rick – Woof. The sad state of coaching in the Forest City. Unlike some of my colleagues, I will not separate the sins of those who were both coach and GM. They signed up for both jobs, so they get judged accordingly in my lifeboat.
Butch Davis, even though he botched some personnel moves still is safe as the rest of the group suggests. (Though I will point out he was only percentage points ahead of Romeo. Both won 24 regular season games, but Davis resigned with five fewer losses than Romeo.) Romeo had a 10 win season, no matter how many asterisks you want to put next to it for strength of schedule. (See Romeo, I’m making a decision without a coin flip.)
So, like many I am choosing between Mangini and Shurmur. 10 wins versus 9 wins. Even if I bust on Mangini for the ridiculous situation that was George Kokinis, he still out coaches Shurmur. Sigh. But you are so rowing Eric.
Now’s your turn in the comments. Remember. No funny business. The situations is limited to these four coaches and you MUST save three. Now get to work!