January 06, 2005

Savage Is The Man

Owner Randy Lerner and the Browns acted yesterday to correct the biggest flaw in the organization since they returned to the NFL as an expansion team in 1999. They hired Phil Savage, a man with a track record of successful NFL talent evaluation, as their new General Manager. Local writer Terry Pluto didn't originate the idea, but he summed it up nicely in a recent column.."the most important guy in the organization is the one who picks the players". Seems obvious enough, but the Browns have been deafened by Butch Davis' echo chamber of a front office for four years, and had to strip the organization down to bare walls in order to get things turned around.

Davis brought Pete Garcia with him from Miami in 2001, and never admitted that he and Garcia were in over their heads in evaluating college and pro personnel. Now that he's gone, stories have surfaced showing that even when his personnel experts had it right (like recommending drafting Richard Seymour in 2002) they weren't heeded by Davis, who would overrule them based on his hunches or personal knowledge of players (like opting for Gerard Warren over the Pro Bowler Seymour).

Savage is limited in his experience, lacking NFL salary cap management experience, and management experience in general, it appears. But Randy Lerner's money and passion should suffice to surround Savage in the front office with the talent to supplement his player personnel skills.

Multiple reports suggest that Ravens Defensive Coordinator Mike Nolan is Savage's preference for Head Coach at the moment. Nolan would be immediately available, since the Ravens are not in the playoffs. It will be interesting to see how much true authority will be granted to Savage to pick his man as coach, now that he appears to have tipped his hand about who that man is. Russ Grimm, assistant head coach and offensive line coach of the Steelers will be interviewed this Saturday. If he pushes Randy Lerner's buttons like I suspect he might, we could see the first test of wills in the new Browns hierarchy. If the Browns haven't named a coach by next Friday, I'd bet that they're going to wait for the Steelers' season to be over before they name the new man.

Posted by dan at January 6, 2005 01:03 PM
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