Davis Defends Holcomb, Defensive Line

Butch Davis met the press today and, while acknowledging the horrific outcome of the game, defended two targets of the fans and the press: Kelly Holcomb and the defensive line. Mike McLain has the story, straight from Berea...

BEREA – Butch Davis blamed the lack of offensive production on the inability to have positive plays on first downs.

"The biggest challenge our offense faces is we have to quit doing things that set us back on first down," Davis said. "I'm a huge proponent that you have to win first down. You have to have something reasonably positive happen for you. We have hurt ourselves enormously in the first two games by having an 8-yard run and then it's called back because of a penalty."

Kelly Holcomb didn't have a good day in completing 17 of 37 passes for 147 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Davis didn't find fault in Holcomb's showing. His quarterback rating through two games is an AFC-low 49.4. The lowest-rated quarterback in the NFL is Philadelphia's Donovan McNabb, who's at 40.4.

"I wish we were having opportunities to get a chance to be successful," Davis said. "He knows exactly what to do. He's making the right reads. He's certainly been a victim of situations in the game. It's never easy always battling from behind.

"We got to get open. When the quarterback is back there and he has two and a half to three and a half to four seconds, we've got to win. Guys have to get open, and you have to make a good throw, and it can't be third and 14 when you're trying to do it."

AS LOW AS IT GOES: For some players, the defeat to Baltimore was about as low as it's been for them in their Cleveland careers.

"It's up there," defensive end Kenard Lang said. "We're going to be on NFL films for the rest of our lives. It didn't reach that low point. The low point I had was when I was in Washington when we were 0-6."

"I said it can't get any lower, but it can," offensive tackle Ryan Tucker said. "Until we pick things up, our quality of life is over."

Tucker stressed the need to practice better.

"We need to change some things as far as practice tempo and things like that," Tucker said. "We need to go to more of a game-day approach. Take every snap like we're in the game. If we can do that and have a clean week of practice, we'll have left no stones unturned.

"It's time to start winning some football games. We're upset, but we're not going to let this carry on and affect us this week. We have the 49ers to play, and we're going to work harder than we have, if that's possible."

D-LINE JUST FINE? Believe it or not, Davis was pleased with the play of the defensive line. That despite the 295 rushing yards the unit yielded to Jamal Lewis.

"Kenard Lang and Gerard Warren and some of those guys on the defensive line may have had their absolute best games since I've been coaching here," Davis said. "They forced sacks, they forced fumbles, they stripped the quarterback. All that stuff gets lost when you lose a game because no one really cares how some of those guys played."

Davis insinuated that the problems against the run were in large part the result of bad tackling by the secondary.

"There are going to be runs when they pop it into the secondary," Davis said. "It's going to happen as long as they play football. When they get it into the secondary, you have to get it down. Don't worry about knocking them out. Don't worry about trying to kill the ball carrier. Get them down and live to fight another day.

"You can't let the ball crease the defense straight up the middle and run to the house. You have to be able to contain it from the outside, and then you have to put leverage on it and stop its vertical progression towards the goal line. We didn't do a very good job of it."

TACKLING NUMBERS: Middle linebacker Andra Davis had a team-high 15 tackles. He leads the defense with 28 tackles (20 solos). Robert Griffith is second with 22, and linebacker Ben Taylor is third with 18.

The Browns will leave for San Francisco after practice on Friday so the players will have a full day to adapt to the time change. Some coaches of teams in the Eastern time zone prefer to leave on Saturday when playing on the west coast.

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