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Carthon out as Browns’ offensive coordinator

BEREA, Ohio – Romeo Crennel had no choice but to make a tough call. He had run out of time and excuses.

Maurice Carthon had to go.

With Cleveland’s season spiraling downward, Crennel accepted Carthon’s resignation as offensive coordinator Monday night, one day after the Browns scored just seven points in a loss to Denver.

The Browns (1-5) have the NFL’s lowest-ranked offense and Carthon made some head-scratching plays calls and personnel decisions that infuriated Cleveland fans and frustrated players.

Crennel said Carthon, in his second year running the Browns’ offense, came into his office and said he wanted out.

“We talked man-to-man about our situation that we are in,” Crennel said. “To do what I thought was best for the Browns, the organization and the fans of Cleveland, I decided to accept his resignation.”

Crennel, who is 7-15 in two seasons, insisted that he was not making a scapegoat out of Carthon and that he did not receive any pressure from owner Randy Lerner or general manager Phil Savage to relieve his close friend.

It’s hard to imagine the 45-year-old Carthon, a former New York Giants fullback who has paid his coaching dues, quitting. Crennel refused to divulge any specifics about the meeting or why Carthon wanted to resign.

“I’m not going to get into what reasons he gave because I don’t want to speak for him,” Crennel said. “Maurice and I have been together for a long time. We’ve seen a lot of things in the business. As far as the team is concerned and the talent is concerned, we felt like it was best for us to do.”

Even if the Browns offense improved, Crennel said Carthon would have always been a target for critics.

“Maurice has a tough mind,” he said. “The situation might get worse before it got better. He was always going to be the guy who had shots taken at him even if we got better for a game or two.”

Jeff Davidson, the club’s offensive line coach the past two seasons, will replace Carthon. Davidson, 39, was given the additional title of assistant head coach after last season when he nearly took a job with the New York Jets, who will visit Cleveland on Sunday.

Crennel said Davidson, an assistant for eight seasons in New England, got some experience running the Patriots offense during training camp and in the 2002 preseason when coordinator Charlie Weis had gastric bypass surgery.

Despite having two weeks to devise a game plan, the Browns picked up only 165 total yards in losing 17-7 to the Broncos Sunday and are ranked at or near the bottom of the league in most offensive categories.

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.

Denver sacked Charlie Frye five times and held Cleveland to season lows in points, first downs, third-down efficiency, total yards and rushing yards.

Last season under Carthon, the Browns scored a league-low 232 points.

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.

“Jeff is putting his thoughts together about what he thinks and feels,” Crennel said. “We’ll see how that manifests itself. I don’t think that you can realistically expect that it’s going to manifest itself into a wide open offense over night. For one, the players are ingrained in a system, terminology and so-forth. If you go in and change all of the terminology and all of the plays, you are starting from scratch.

“I think what he’ll do is pick the things he likes and maybe dress them up.”

There had been grumbling inside and outside the Browns’ locker room for weeks about the club’s anemic offense. Tight end Kellen Winslow criticized Carthon’s schemes following a Week 2 loss to Cincinnati.

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