Browns Week in Review

Terry Robiskie gets a promotion, Rob Chudzinski takes over the tight ends, and takes on the Browns free agents. TheInsiders wrap up the events of the last week, offering their own unique perspective...

Turns out that Ted Tollner wasn't Butch Davis' first choice to be offensive coordinator after all.

Davis said that his top choice was always Terry Robiskie, whom Davis promoted from receivers coach to run the team's offense.

Of course it's always easy to say the guy you hire was the top choice from the get-go, but that's what Davis maintained. Even though the first person he asked permission to interview was Tollner. No matter, Davis maintained Robiskie set the standard for the coach who would run the new offense.

Which was about the only real specific bit of information Davis offered when he introduced Robiskie as the team's new coordinator.
Even Robiskie was unusually vague when asked questions.

To wit, Robiskie:

  • Gave no specifics on which quarterback he might favor, Tim Couch or Kelly Holcomb;
  • Said the most important thing he wanted in an offense was that it be "tough";
  • Said teams need balance to win;
  • Said every day is a challenge for a coach.

If those tenets sound like they could apply to every offense of every team in the league, well they could.

But that's what Robiskie and Davis offered when queried about the team's direction.

About the only hint into the future that the pair gave was when they talked about identity, and wanting one.

Davis said the Browns need a handful of plays that the players know will work no matter the defense or the time of day. Robiskie offered that in the past few years the Browns might have become too enamored with the team's receivers.

"Maybe we got a little caught up with the wide receivers making all the plays," he said.

Robiskie also offered that to win teams need to stop the run and run the ball. He said he'd like to add a fullback -- if the Browns can find one -- and no doubt would like to beef up the offensive line, which isn't exactly a revelation since everyone who's been within 100 miles of the Browns facility knows the team needs a beefed-up offensive line.

So with Robiskie calling the plays, the Browns plan to do what Davis has said he wanted to do since he was hired three years ago: Be a balanced offense that can run the ball.


THE MIAMI CONNECTION LIVES: Davis started to fill out his staff when he hired Rob Chudzinski of the University of Miami to be the team's tight ends coach. Chudzinski had spent the last three years as the Hurricanes' offensive coordinator. He is considered a bright young coach very capable of bringing strong ideas to an offense.

Chudzinski grew up near Toledo as a huge Browns fan. He said he cheered for the Kardiac Kids and could probably name every starter from the 1978 Browns team. That's a position that will go over well with the fans.

With the hiring of Chudzinski, the Browns changed Steve Hagen's coaching responsibilities. Hagen had coached the team's tight ends; he now will coach quarterbacks.

Chudzinski coached Kellen Winslow Jr. at Miami, and he has been the object of much speculation by fans thinking the Browns will draft him. Chudzinski, though, wouldn't even venture that Winslow would be a top 10 pick if he declares himself eligible for the draft. The most Chudzinski would say was "He's an unbelievable player."

FREE-AGENT UPDATE:

  • WR Dennis Northcutt (Looking for the big free agent payday. St. Louis would be a logical destination if the Rams want to sign him),
  • OG Shaun O'Hara (Seems to fit Denver's style; he's small, mobile and though he won't bulldoze people he can be effective when used right),
  • P Chris Gardocki (Team says it wants him back, but it probably won't happen, which is too bad given Gardocki was more than dependable in his five seasons in Cleveland),
  • LB Brant Boyer (Proved very valuable as the year went on and the team probably will try to bring him back, but the Browns are not known for blowing players away with their financial offers),
  • DE Tyrone Rogers (Valuable backup and role player and quality guy who will help any team in that role),
  • CB Lewis Sanders (Has talent but is hurt too much to demand a large payday),
  • OL Barry Stokes (Versatile, gritty, but not overflowing with natural talent. Stokes gets the most of what he has, though, and may be attractive to teams as a versatile player who can fill in at several spots),
  • RFA WR Andre King (Solid special teamer, fourth receiver probably will be back),
  • RFA G Paul Zukauskas (Seems to be improving each season but probably will return to Browns).

FEELING A DRAFT: The Browns will draft seventh or eighth, and the clear priority is an offensive lineman. Tackle Robert Gallery of Iowa is the logical choice. But two Miami players also will draw the Browns eye: safety Sean Taylor and tight end Kellen Winslow. Both are impact players who fill a Cleveland need.

MEDICAL WATCH: Rookie safety Michael Lehan probably will have surgery to repair a damaged labrum in his shoulder this offseason.

Lehan played the last six or seven weeks without being able to life his arm past his shoulder. The team also feels good about the rehab of Courtney Brown, who ruptured a biceps tendon. The team believes Brown can come back from that injury easier than he did the microfracture surgery on his knee in 2002, and the Browns are cautiously optimistic that he will return in '04.


The OBR Top Stories