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Crennel reaffirms faith in his staff



Published: Tue, October 17, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



The coach said that he and his staff are close to solving the team's problems.

BEREA (AP) -- Bored while sitting at home on a rare Sunday off in October, Romeo Crennel spent time cleaning out his basement.

Earlier last week, Cleveland's coach tossed out some bad offensive plays.

However, Crennel decided to keep Maurice Carthon around.

"I'm not changing the offensive coordinator," Crennel said Monday. "I've talked to players and coaches and we think our team has ability and we'll be able to get some things done. I think we can get some things straightened out. I don't think we're that far away."

Carthon's questionable play-calling has come under attack following a lackluster start to the season for the Browns (1-4), who have scored just 81 points and whose offense is currently ranked second-worst in the NFL.

Crennel utilized Cleveland's open week to evaluate the club's numerous offensive woes. Among his findings were that Carthon isn't solely to blame, quarterback Charlie Frye is still learning on the fly and there's reason for hope.

And, Crennel's support for Carthon and his coaching staff is stronger than ever.

"I told them that I have confidence in every one of them," he said. "By working together, we can get this thing straightened out. That is what I believe. I may be crazy, stupid or naive, but that's what I believe.

"I think I have good coaches. I have good kids on the team, I believe in them and I'm going to give them a chance to do their job."

Eyes bigger role on offense

Crennel, too, said he'll take a more active role to help fix Cleveland's sputtering offense, which has been plagued by fumbles and interceptions -- the Browns are minus-9 in turnover ratio -- through five games.

If having a more hands-on approach requires Crennel to overrule Carthon and change a called play, so be it.

"I'm the head coach, so I have the responsibility," he said. "If I want it changed, it will change."

Crennel is convinced that better consistency -- not better playcalling -- will translate to more victories for the Browns, who host Denver on Sunday.

Frye was one of the players Crennel consulted before making his decision to keep Carthon in charge of running the offense. Although the second-year quarterback leads the league with nine interceptions, a few have come on balls that should have been caught.

"There are things that are correctable," Frye said. "That turnover factor is big, and obviously, they are all going on my stat sheet. There have been some bad breaks as well but that's one thing I'm going to correct coming out of this bye week."

While there has been widespread criticism of Carthon outside the Browns' headquarters, Frye insists the team is behind the former fullback whose offense scored a league-low 232 points last season.

"We're all supportive of our coaches," Frye said. "That's the guy who is charge of the offense and you just have to go out and execute what's called."

The Browns spent a portion of last week identifying what has gone well so far. Cleveland's special teams units have been among the league's best and the defense has been solid amid a rash of key injuries.a

Offense is ineffective

It's the offense, though, that has dragged the Browns down.

"You can make a hundred excuses up about an m.e. [mental error] here or a missed block here," Frye said. "But the way to get it corrected is to move forward and work hard and try to build on the things we worked on last week."

The down time gave Frye's body a chance to recover from a five-week beating he has taken behind an offensive line that has struggled this season.

One tweak Crennel plans to make is using offensive lineman Lenny Friedman in a four-man rotation at center and guard with Hank Fraley, Cosey Coleman and Joe Andruzzi.

None of those players can affect a game nearly as much as Frye, Kellen Winslow, Braylon Edwards or Reuben Droughns -- Cleveland's offensive playmakers, still trying to find their groove with Frye.

When he asked his players for feedback last week, Crennel heard a familiar theme.

"They said that we have talent on this team. We can get some things done if we don't shoot ourselves in the foot," he said.

Notes

CB Gary Baxter (strained chest muscle) has improved and feels confident he can play Sunday against the Broncos. "I'm feeling pretty good," said Baxter, who has missed the past three games. "I had a good chance to rest up." ... Crennel said the availability of WR Dennis Northcutt (ribs) for Sunday's game could depend on "pain management."




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