Since the signing of Rob Chudzinski, the conventional wisdom has been that he was Phil Savage's pick, with Crennel essentially being told "this is your guy, hope you like him". Not that I've ever heard that Crennel protested to Chud's hiring. But it will be hard to forget that Crennel's original pick was fullback-focused (and, as well documented by Ace Davis, none-too truthful) Mo Carthon. If Crennel had had the coordinator pick to make on his own, he well could have ended up going with Jeff Davidson, whose Carolina offense was ranked 27th by Football Outsiders.
If Savage is to be given credit for getting Chud to Berea, then his selection has recently been validated by the Ravens who wanted Chud to come in to interview for their head coaching job. Fortunately for all of us, Chud turned them down, and signed an extension to stay in Cleveland. It works for Cleveland since Chud deserves alot of credit for the offense's resurgence; and it works for Chud since the Raven's coaching job has to be one of the worst positions in the NFL. Who would want to be the Raven's ostensible coach when Ray Lewis is the one calling the shots?
While Chud may be Savage's most important addition last season, his biggest addition is Joe Thomas, who has just won a back-door ticket to the Pro Bowl. Thomas has also been earning "Best Left Tackle" nods from national writers like Peter King and Len Pasquarelli. Its really hard for me to overstate how great it is to finally have an offensive line, and the whole package is really upgraded with a premier (and young!) left tackle. Now when we debate who should be at quarterback or running back, we can discuss them on their own merits rather than constantly saying "if they had protection, they could be. . .".
In one season, Phil Savage has turned around the Browns' offense. There are still pieces that will need tweaking, but even if an off-season of being planned against knocks them down a couple rungs next season, at least it won't be a bad offense. And that is all I ask for. Now about that defense. . .