The Cleveland Browns are formulating a plan that ultimately could lead to the return of Marty Schottenheimer as their coach for the 2009 season, according to sources.
The Browns would also be open to considering Bill Cowher if he sends stronger signals that he's ready to return, the sources said.
The Browns plan to fire coach Romeo Crennel after a disappointing year, regardless of injuries the team has suffered, the sources said. Pubicly, owner Randy Lerner has only said he will evaluate Crennel after the season.
The future of general manager Phil Savage also has been the source of speculation by various media outlets. Sources said Lerner prefers to retain Savage to run his personnel department but could scale back his overall duties, which include the final say on all roster moves.
Before the 2008 season, Savage signed a four-year contract extension for an average of$2.7 million per year, the sources said.
However, Lerner is contemplating a different authority -- or "voice" of the franchise -- that can filled by an experienced coach like Cowher or Schottenheimer, the sources said.
Schottenheimer recently said he had no plans to return to the sidelines, but sources said he would consider coming back "for the job ... with a team that has a good core of talent."
I'm torn on the next Browns hire. On one hand, I'm not all too thrilled about a coaching retread. But on the other hand, I'm also sick of first time guys learning on the job and fighting through their growing pains while the Browns (and their fans) suffer.
So Marty? Cowher? Brian Billick? I dunno, I guess I'd be OK with those guys. Marty's problem is losing in big playoff games (what I wouldn't give for that to be our problem) and both Cowher and Billick have actually won those games (albeit for a hated division rival). I have some worry that Cowher might want (or get offered) both GM and coaching duties and I'm 100% against anyone getting both responsibilities. I'm also kinda concerned about a Jimmy Johnson-in-Miami (or Ditka in New Orleans) situation with Cowher. For some reason, I don't feel that way about Billick, but it is a concern I have with The Chin.
As for Savage, again I'm torn. On one hand, his personnel decisions haven't been good enough that it makes up for his other short falls as a GM (the Winslow incident, the fan email, sitting picks by keeping DA). But I'm not sure that it's healthy for the organization to replace both GM and coach yet again in such a short period of time and Savage hasn't been terrible (hey look, good linemen!). Having some kind of stability in management should be desirable, no?
Who else is pumped for the offseason, huh? Coaching changes, a decently high draft pick (I mean, I guess they have a shot at the Cinci game) and free agency! The time of the year where Browns fans clamor to draft the latest Buckeyes (Beanie Wells! James Laurinaitis! Malcom Jenkins!).
Thank the lord the Cavs are good.