Todd GranthamBrowns Fire Defensive Coordinator

Tony Grossi has just reported that the Cleveland Browns have fired defensive coordinator Todd Grantham. This is a stunning move that will surely send out shockwaves through the Cleveland Browns community.

The Browns finished the season almost dead last (30th) in the NFL in total defense, in a bit of a reversal of performance level from past years. Not that the Browns defense has ever been stellar, but the defense was believed to be the strength of this team coming into the season. That simply wasn’t the case, as many players on the defense seemed to regress this season.

Apparently, that’s all it took to make Grantham the fall man for this season’s shortcomings in terms of making the post season. No successor has been named yet. Grossi writes,

“It’s a stunning descent for Grantham, who was given a two-year contract extension in June.

At the time, the youthful Grantham was viewed as a potential in-house replacement for coach Romeo Crennel if the 2007 season went down the sewer. In preseason, Grantham’s television interviews were closely monitored by the Browns’ brass to determine whether he “projected” as a head coach.

Those tentative plans went awry when two surprises occurred. Grantham’s defense was the unit that tanked and Crennel supervised the Browns to a 10-6 season.

In the third season under Grantham, the defense allowed 402 points (fourth-most in Browns history) and 5,753 total yards (second-most). It finished 21st in points after hovering at the bottom of the league rankings most of the season and was 30th in total yards allowed.”

My initial reaction was that this feels premature. The Browns are coming off their most successful season overall, depending on how you look at it, since either the 2002 season or since the Browns’ return in 1999. Despite the defense’s horrible rankings, they did seem to start turning things around towards the end of the season. Grantham had to deal with an aging, weak, and thin defensive line to begin with, and that only got worse with injuries. Also, I am a huge proponent of consistency within organizations.

All that being said, though, there’s no denying the defense has been on a downward trend every year since Grantham took over. His earlier successes were simply overcome by the total failures of his unit as the season progressed. It will be interesing to watch who emerges as the lead candidates to take over the position.

UPDATE:

After writing this post, I came across a couple stories with further background information on this move and the apparent rift that developed in Berea between RAC and Grantham. You can read John Taylor’s story here for the first look at the behind the scenes side of what happened here and you can read Barry McBride’s follow up story on the topic here. Both are excellent reads and should be looked at by anyone who is curious what exactly happened in this bizarre scenario.

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