Miami (3-6) at Cleveland (3-6), Sunday 1:00 pm EST
CLEVELAND (Ticker) -- Nick Saban was a former defensive
coordinator of the Cleveland Browns before leaving the NFL for
the collegiate ranks.
Lured back to the NFL by the Miami Dolphins, Saban faces his
former team on Sunday.
Saban was the Browns' defensive coordinator under Bill Belichick
from 1991-94 before he left to take the Michigan State coaching
job. Saban spent five seasons at Michigan State, then another
five campaigns at Louisian State, winning a share of the
national championship in 2003.
Last year, Saban refused coaching offers from the Chicago Bears
and Atlanta Falcons, but accepted the NFL challenge when
Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga came calling with a five-year,
$22.5 million deal.
Saban's first year as an NFL coach has been a struggle. Since
a 2-1 start, the Dolphins have lost five of their last six
Last week, the Dolphins rolled up a 437 yards of total offense
in a 23-16 loss to the New England Patriots. Gus Frerotte
completed 25-of-47 passes for 360 yards and two touchdowns with
The Browns also have a first-year coach in Romeo Crennel, who
won three Super Bowls as defensive coordinator of the Patriots.
Crennel also is in the midst of a rebuilding job with the
Browns, who have lost four of their last five games and are a
game in front of last-place Baltimore in the AFC North.
The biggest decision remaining for Crennel this season may be
when to replace veteran quarterback Trent Dilfer with
third-round pick Charlie Frye.
Last week, Dilfer completed 17-of-34 passes for 253 yards and
one touchdown with an interception in a 34-21 loss at
Last December 26, the Dolphins posted a 10-7 victory over the
Browns. Both teams featured interim coaches in Cleveland's
Terry Robiskie and Miami's Jim Bates.
The game was a comedy of errors as the teams combined for seven
fumbles, six turnovers and 15 punts.
Miami coach Nick Saban will stick with veteran QB Gus Frerotte, despite his struggles, until the team is mathematically eliminated from the playoff picture. If the Dolphins are to right the ship and remain in any type of contention in the AFC East, Frerotte needs to make fewer mistakes and also needs more help from inconsistent WR Chris Chambers.
Cleveland's Romeo Crennel, another first-year head coach, is in a similar situation with aging veteran QB Trent Dilfer, who has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns. As such, look for R's Ronnie Brown (Dolphins) and RB Reuben Droughns (Browns) to figure prominently in Sunday's outcome.