Carthon quits, line coach moves in
Coach Crennel insisted neither Browns owner nor general manager forced the change.
BEREA (AP) -- Maurice Carthon resigned as Cleveland's offensive coordinator on Tuesday, two days after the Browns' NFL-worst offense managed just one touchdown and seven points in a loss to Denver.
Carthon, whose head-scratching play calls and personnel moves angered fans and puzzled players, was in his second year running the offense.
Despite having two weeks to devise a game plan, the Browns (1-5) picked up only 165 total yards in losing 17-7 to the Broncos and are ranked at or near the bottom of the league in most offensive categories.
Browns coach Romeo Crennel said Carthon came into his office on Monday and offered his resignation. The pair talked and after their discussion, Crennel decided to accept it from his close friend for the "good of the organization and the fans."
"I'm not making anybody a scapegoat," Crennel said. "I'm doing what is best for the Cleveland Browns."
Crennel insists he did not receive any pressure from Browns owner Randy Lerner or general manager Phil Savage to replace Carthon.
Jeff Davidson, the club's offensive line coach the past two seasons, will replace Carthon as the club's offensive coordinator. Davidson was given the title of assistant head coach after last season when he nearly took a job with the New York Jets.
Crennel said Davidson, an assistant for eight seasons in New England, got some experience running an offense during training camp and in the 2002 preseason when Patriots coordinator Charlie Weis had gastric bypass surgery.
Crennel doesn't expect any major changes to Cleveland's offense under Davidson, a former Ohio State tackle who played four seasons in the NFL before a shoulder injury cut his career short.
"He'll pick the things he likes and dress them up," Crennel said.
On Sunday, Cleveland's offense didn't move the ball inside Denver's 40-yard line until the final play of the third quarter and scored its only touchdown following an 18-yard drive set up by Browns linebacker Andra Davis' interception.
Last season under Carthon, the Browns scored a league-low 232 points.
Following Cleveland's bye week, Crennel decided to stick with Carthon, a former New York Giants fullback and running backs coach who had never handled play calling before joining Crennel's staff.
Both the Baltimore Ravens and Arizona Cardinals dismissed their offensive coordinators last week, and Crennel decided he would take on a more active role with the offense to help Carthon.
But nothing worked against the Broncos, who sacked Charlie Frye five times and held the Browns to season lows in points, first downs, third-down efficiency, total yards and rushing yards.
There had been grumbling inside and outside the Browns' locker room for weeks about the offensive woes.
Tight end Kellen Winslow was openly critical of Carthon's schemes following a Week 2 loss to Cincinnati. Winslow, who was not on the field for several third-down situations in that game, complained that "some of the coaches might be holding us back a little bit. We have nothing to lose. Let's go!"
Winslow later said his comments were a mistake, but after making them he started to get the ball more. Even Monday, Winslow cited Cleveland's poor play calling as one of the team's many problems.
Carthon, too, made some questionable calls and personnel decisions.
In a loss at Carolina, the Browns tried a halfback option on third-and-short but rookie fullback Lawrence Vickers' pass intended for Winslow was incomplete in the end zone. Crennel spent two weeks defending the call, which had frustrated Browns fans screaming for Carthon's head.
In Cleveland's opener against New Orleans, Carthon gave the ball to Vickers on two crucial third-and-1 plays and both times the sixth-round pick was stopped short of a first down on sweeps.
Last year, Carthon clashed with quarterback Trent Dilfer over the Browns' offensive schemes and game plans. Dilfer was then traded in March, the first sign of Crennel's commitment to Carthon.