BEREA, Ohio (AP) – 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 play calls and personnel decisions, infuriating Cleveland’s fans and frustrating its 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 Carthon a scapegoat and that he did not receive pressure from owner Randy Lerner or general manager Phil Savage to relieve his close friend.

Crennel refused to divulge any specifics about the meeting or what prompted the surprising resignation by the 45-year-old Carthon, a former New York Giants fullback who has paid his coaching dues.

“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 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. The 39-year-old Davidson 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 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 last weekend.

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 until the final play of the third quarter and scored its only touchdown following an 18-yard drive set up by 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 ended his career.

“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 overnight. 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.

Last year, Carthon clashed with quarterback Trent Dilfer over the Browns’ offensive schemes and game plans. Dilfer was traded in March.

Crennel doesn’t believe Cleveland players didn’t support Carthon, whom he felt got the most out of their talent.

“Whether it was used enough – it was not used enough for us to win games,” Crennel said. “That’s the bottom line. He (Carthon) is not here anymore, so we’ll see what we can do from this point on.”


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