Browns put off personnel decisions 2 coordinators' jobs said to be in jeopardy

January 05, 1996|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

Cleveland Browns owner Art Modell said yesterday that there will be no decisions on team personnel until after the league meeting Jan. 17, the day owners are scheduled to vote on the Browns' proposed relocation to Baltimore.

Modell met with six members of his front-office staff yesterday in Baltimore for nearly three hours. Among the six was coach Bill Belichick, who recently completed his fourth losing season in five years with the Browns.

Modell declined to comment on Belichick's status even though he previously has said Belichick would be his coach when the team moved to Baltimore for the 1996 season.

According to a team official, Belichick, player personnel director Michael Lombardi, and Ozzie Newsome, the director of pro personnel, are in no immediate danger, but offensive coordinator Steve Crosby and defensive coordinator Rick Venturi could lose their jobs.

"There will be no decisions made on any personnel until the end of the month. I don't want that statement construed one way or the other," said Modell, when asked directly about Belichick, who is 36-44 in his five seasons.

"We reviewed as much as we could on this past season from top to bottom," he added. "I think most of our situation is on hold until the Browns' situation in Cleveland is resolved."

The Browns were picked by some preseason publications to appear in the 1996 Super Bowl, but the team finished 5-11, fourth in the AFC Central, only one game ahead of the Jacksonville Jaguars, an expansion team that defeated the Browns twice.

Cleveland lost seven of its last eight games. The Browns were 11-5 in 1994.

"I'm confident about being the coach next season, but that's not my decision to make," said Belichick. "The meeting was nothing earth-shattering. We just went over our season, evaluated it."

A week ago, Modell said the Browns had become too predictable on offense and defense, adding to the speculation about Crosby, who completed his second year as offensive coordinator, and Venturi, who was in his first year running the defense.

"Yes, we talked about them, but we talked about the other coaches as well as players, and it would not be fair to comment on individuals or situations at this time," said Belichick.

"We didn't take the season apart play by play," he added. "We spent more time on moving forward than looking back."

Belichick and Lombardi, who attended yesterday's meeting, will attend the East-West Shrine All-Star Game on Jan. 13 at Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto, Calif., and most of the coaching staff will attend the Senior Bowl on Jan. 20 in Montgomery, Ala.

The Browns will have two picks in the first round of the draft, including the overall No. 4 selection.

"We're not looking in a specific area, but we want to get a feel for the entire draft," said Belichick. "I haven't watched a college game the entire season, so I have a lot to catch up on."

Belichick has not given the players an off-season workout schedule, and team vice president Kevin Byrne said there is no date as to when the club will move from its offices in Berea, Ohio, to the old Colts complex in Owings Mills.

The Baltimore city police department has been using the site for classroom instruction and physical and handgun training. Police spokesman Sam Ringgold said they will vacate the premises around March 1.

"We usually give the players a couple of months off after the season, and start the off-season program in March," Belichick said. "So, I don't anticipate being behind."

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