BEREA, Ohio (AP) -The Cleveland Browns have another gaping hole to fix on defense.
Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, once considered a possible successor to coach Romeo Crennel, was unexpectedly fired Friday after Cleveland's defense finished the season as one of the NFL's worst units.
Grantham's dismissal was a surprise because it came just months after the fiery 41-year-old signed a two-year contract extension. It also followed Cleveland's turnaround 10-6 season, which ended just shy of the AFC playoffs.
But Grantham's stock steadily plummeted as the Browns' defense struggled almost the entire season before ending up ranked 30th overall. The Browns apparently felt Grantham wasn't getting the most from his players and decided to part ways.
The team put out a short statement announcing that Grantham ``will not be retained for the 2008 season.''
``Todd has worked extremely hard during his three seasons with the Browns,'' Crennel said in a statement. ``Following our discussions after the season, it was decided that it was in the best interests of the organization to move in a different direction.''
He said a decision ``will be forthcoming'' on a replacement for Grantham, who was a finalist for Michigan State's job last year.
Crennel favors continuity on his staff and will give defensive backs coach Mel Tucker strong consideration. Tucker has been with the Browns for three seasons and is popular the players.
Crennel, who won three Super Bowl titles as New England's defensive coordinator, was direct about his disappointment with the Browns' defense all season. He may decide to take on a more hands-on approach with Cleveland's defense next season and mentor Tucker in the process.
Grantham's third season with the Browns was worse than his first two, when his unit managed to keep Cleveland in games despite a shaky offense.
In 2007, Cleveland's defense gave up 382 points and allowed 359.6 yards per game - both increases from '06. The Browns were a one-sided team, with an explosive, score-from-anywhere offense and a defense that was mediocre at its best.
Last season, the Browns' defense ranked 15th in pass defense despite numerous injuries to their secondary. In his first season, Grantham helped Crennel break in a new 3-4 scheme and the Browns finished first in the AFC in red-zone defense, fourth in the league in pass defense and tied for 16th overall.
But despite an upgrade in personnel through free agency and the draft, the Browns' defense never improved at stopping the run during Grantham's tenure. Cleveland ranked 30th against the run in 2005, 29th in 2006 and 27th this season.
Grantham was Houston's defensive line coach before he was hired by the Browns. He was Indianapolis' defensive line coach from 1999-2001.
Earlier this week, Browns general manager Phil Savage said the club would begin talks with Crennel's agent, Joe Linta, about a contract extension for the coach, who is 20-28 in three seasons with Cleveland.
Also, the Browns rewarded offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski with a two-year extension through the 2011 season.

NFL Top Stories

Thumbnail Steelers vs. Saints Preseason Pick The line has jumped two full points in tonight's preseason matchup between the Steelers and Saints at 8:00PM ET. Will tonight be...
Thumbnail Patriots vs. Panthers Preseason Pick Will the Panthers cover as home favorites tonight at 7:30PM ET when they host the Patriots in the teams' "dress rehearsal?"
Thumbnail Packers vs. 49ers Preseason Pick With Aaron Rodgers stepping on the field, can he lead the Green Bay Packers to a road win over the San Francisco 49ers tonight at...
Thumbnail Bills look to win in Washington The Buffalo Bills look to have another strong defensive showing when they face the Washington Redskins at 7:30PM...
Thumbnail Falcons vs. Dolphins Pick Will the Falcons stay undefeated this preseason when they visit the Dolphins tonight at 8:00PM ET?
More inNFL Articles  
Advertisement

NFL Team Pages