Saturday, December 27, 2008

The dawg that couldn't hunt

More of a hippo than a dawg, really... then again, to compare Romeo Eatwell to a hippo is to unfairly malign an entire group of mammals, and I don't mean grossly overweight, incompetent head coaches. As Eatwell's tenure as head coach of the Browns comes to its merciful end, I can't help but wonder how he could have convinced the team's brass to hire him. Sure, he seems like an even-keeled and extremely decent fellow, and although fiery, driven personalities tend to fit the stereotype of coaching success (Lombardi, Ditka, Parcells, etc.), plenty of low-key, players' coaches have won and won big (Landry, Gibbs, Dungy, etc.). Eatwell's problem isn't his temperament so much as the fact that he's completely clueless. The Eatwell regime has been characterized by some unfortunate constants that provide a damning indictment of his failings as a head coach:
  • A lack of on-the-field discipline, as the Browns consistently ranked at or near the top of the league in penalties, and surely led in the unofficial statistic of egregiously stupid penalties.
  • The team's performance was inconsistent at best, coming prepared to play on some weeks, and barely showing up on others. Last season's catastrophic and inexcusable loss at Cincinnati with a playoff spot on the line is a perfect example of the team NOT being prepared for a crucial game. Ugh.
  • An unforgivable disregard for fundamentals. No team misses more tackles, blows more coverage and blocking assignments, drops more passes, misses wide open receivers with errant passes, or forces the ball into quadruple coverage than Eatwell's Browns. Maybe in any given year one or two teams might have surpassed even our collective inadequacy (2K8 Lions, anyone???)... but over the duration of Eatwell's tenure, we stand alone at the nadir of incompetence.
  • Piss-poor clock management and atrocious situational coaching. If you're down by three touchdowns late in the 4th quarter, kicking a field goal on fourth and short is NOT a f*cking option!!!
  • No off-the-field discipline. Oh, to choose from so many examples! From Kellen Idiot Jr.'s crotch-rocket, staph-ridden "I'm just a piece of meat" stupidity, to Braylon Edwards developing a bad case of concrete hands then having the balls to deride the fans for supposedly not liking him because he attended Michicrap (Braylon, we don't like you because you drop passes like a bad habit and are a high-priced bust -- we loved Leroy Hoard, and HE went to Michicrap!), to having Jamal Lewis the convicted cocaine dealer not only question the other players' resolve, but actually be quite right in doing so, to the QB and pretty-boy face of the franchise getting into a fistfight with a trash-talking defensive tackle... every possible bit of repulsive strife is present in the locker room. GM Phil Savage also gets a dishonourable mention here for getting into a profanity-laced internet forum battle of the witless with some fair-weather douchebag "fan"... but that'll be discussed in a future post.
  • A blatant disregard for and inexplicable lack of urgency regarding divisional match-ups. The team is well below .500 within the division during Eatwell's tenure and, even less excusable, is an atrocious 0-7 (soon to be 0-8) against the hated Steelers. If you don't win in your division, you're not going anywhere. If you lose every single rivalry game, your a$$ is getting run out of town. If you adopt an "aw-shucks, we'll hopefully get'em next time" attitude about losing every rivalry game, your a$$ is getting run out of town with extreme prejudice. It's that simple.
  • A failure to implement a system based on the team's personnel. Yes, Eatwell loves his 3-4 defense almost as much as he loves an all-you-can-eat buffet. Too bad the team lacks the players to run this system. A good coach tailors his schemes to match his personnel. A stupid coach stubbornly insists on running a 3-4 defense with three undersized, no-tackling nitwits and a slow, crippled Methuselah at the linebacker position.
And yet, this is the man who, according to management, "blew them away" during his job interview. Here's how I envision the interview, with actual quotes and/or actions from Eatwell as his answers:

Lerner & Savage: How would you define success as the coach of the Cleveland Browns?

Eatwell: "Going into this season there was some talk that we might be able to beat Pittsburgh and I don't think there has been that kind of talk around before. This year we ended up taking a step back, but going forward, as we build, I think we will have a chance to be much more competitive against them."

Lerner & Savage: Um... OK... so the mere possibility of deluded people thinking the Browns might actually beat Pittsburgh is, in your opinion, success?

Eatwell: "I haven't been able to beat Pittsburgh and that's discouraging to everybody, myself included. It is somewhat of a mountain to climb, but it is a mountain to climb because they are a good football team along with the other things that are involved with it."

Lerner & Savage: What "other things that are involved with it" are you talking about?

Eatwell: "Progress. I think that we have some progress here. This year we ended up taking a step back, but going forward, as we build, I think we will have a chance to be much more competitive against them."

Lerner & Savage: That kind of makes no sense... do you think "being competitive" is enough? Do you take comfort in losing a close game as opposed to a blowout?

Eatwell: "It seems like we play them close one game and get killed the next game. That's one of my fears going down this time, [that] we played them a close game this year."

Lerner & Savage: Holy sh... Er, let's move on to personnel. How would you decide on a starting quarterback during an open training camp competition? That is to say, what parameters would you use to measure the pros and cons of each player as a starter, and do said parameters include only physical ability and measurable benchmarks, or will they also include intangibles and leadership skills?

Eatwell: "That's a tough one... I guess I'd just flip a coin to decide on a starting quarterback."

Lerner & Savage: Wow. Your ineptitude has really blown us away.

Eatwell: "Great. Can you pay my salary in chicken-fried steaks, lard, and biscuits'n'gravy?"

OK, I made that last one up. Be that as it may, after tomorrow, we'll bid a not-so-fond farewell to Romeo Eatwell. Nice guy, well-liked by his players, and a terrific defensive coordinator... but as head coach of the Cleveland Browns, an unmitigated disaster. Wait 'til next year...

1 comment:

D said...

I thoroughly enjoyed that. At least in whatever way one can enjoy anything related to the Browns these days. You are aware, of course, that all the scuttlebutt had certified idiot Bill Cowher coming in here next year, a move that might possibly have caused me to actually quit caring about the Browns altogether. Radio this morning is saying he's out of the running now. There is a movement afoot to get Bernie in there in a GM or president role, if not coaching. Most fan movements are idiotic, but this idea I like. After the corporate copycat moves that have left this team with no soul in addition to no wins, Kosar is the Cleveland cure for the Cleveland sickness. He always was a kind of football idiot savant, with more savant than idiot. He knows the league, knows the players, knows winning football and good organizations. Football-wise, he's a good choice, and karma-wise he's the only choice. But there is some kind of bad blood with Lerner, so it probably won't happen directly. I can still almost see it. This team is so discredited with the fans here, they have to do something to stop the bleeding, and that's either a move like that or some big name hire like Parcels. Peoli who is a kind of second banana in New England is the top name right now, and would fit perfectly with the corporate copycat MBNA garbage that has gotten the Browns where they are now.

Why talk about it though. The cavs are truly a thing of beauty. This team is nearly perfect. It's all chemistry and likability with probably the single greatest all around basketball player of all time, a hometown kid, leading the show. Barring injury, this is going to be IT. This is one of the reasons you must get up here. The other is that your stink has finally worn off from the spare bedroom.