Not on the same page? How about not in the same book?
In a sixteen game season, every game is important. When the season is over they just ask how many you won, not who you won them against.
But I don't think it is a stretch to say that Sunday's game against Cincinnati is the biggest one in Butch Davis' NFL head coaching career. A home loss to Cincinnati, followed by one against Philadelphia, prior to the bye week, would bring the boo birds out in unprecedented numbers. That would mean three straight losses , with plenty of time for the fans to vent their frustrations.
The public would probably be OK with a 3-4 record at the off week, but 2-5 is not a recoverable number, especially with future games against New England, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and the vastly improved New York Jets in four of the next five games after the bye.
After a quarterback school, training camp, four exhibition games and five regular season games, it is hard to believe that Jeff Garcia and his receivers still aren't on the same page.
It was plain to see that the QB was upset with his receivers, especially on a play when Dennis Northcutt hovered along the sideline, instead of coming back toward the line of scrimmage. There was a heated confrontation on the sidelines after the play.
Incredibly, Butch Davis explained that Northcutt didn't break back toward the line, because he knew that he had stepped out of bounds and became an ineligible receiver. He assumed that Garcia would figure that out and look for another receiver.
I've got a suggestion for Northcutt---next time that happens…FALL DOWN AND ROLL OUT OF BOUNDS. Garcia should be able to figure it out by then.
Once again the offense failed to score a touchdown in the first half on Sunday, to keep their record intact. That has to be a record, doesn't it?
It is painfully obvious that Garcia was right when he complained about lack of playing time in the exhibition season. It is also painfully obvious that his mind is wandering, figuring out how to get out of the way of onrushing linemen, linebackers, and defensive backs. How else do you explain three critical fumbled snaps, although two of them came out of the shotgun, which he rarely used in San Francisco?
If all-out blitzes bother a veteran QB like Garcia, how do you explain only four blitzes against Ben Roethlisberger, in only his third start in the NFL?
The Browns assumed they would give him more problems by flooding the secondary with coverage, but it shouldn't have taken very long to figure out that wasn't working.
Speaking of Roethlisberger, it makes you think that Butch Davis has been drafting guys out of the wrong Miami.
Butch Davis is now 1-7 against Pittsburgh, and many people are comparing that to John Cooper's pitiful record against arch-rival Michigan.
Chris Palmer was 2-2 against the Steelers, while Tim Couch was 2-0 during the first two years of the reborn franchise. Davis' only win against the Steelers came with Couch at the helm, when he threw for 316 yards last season.
Davis said that Pittsburgh has been doing the same thing offensively and defensively since he came to Cleveland, and took his players to task for not recognizing it. But he didn't mention that the coaching staff must have been at fault, too, as long as the Steelers didn't do anything new.
I know that the pressure would really be on the coaching staff in the next two weeks, if Al Lerner and Carmen Policy were still running the show. It's anybody's guess how Randy Lerner is reacting to the disappointing start of the season, and apparently it doesn't matter how John Collins is taking it.
If the Browns lose the next two home games prior to the bye week, it would be nice if Randy Lerner went public with some kind of statement, even if he is totally backing Davis. Without a statement of public support, the fans will come to the logical conclusion that the remaining years on the coach's contract will be paid off, without Davis around to run the show any more.
Every team has significant injuries and must find a way to play through them. Even Bill Belichick feels that games are won by the bottom end of the roster, and even by players who weren't around during training camp. Injuries are only an excuse if you want them to be.
|‘More Sports & Les Levine' can be seen nightly Monday through Friday from 6-7pm with replays at 11pm on Adelphia Channel 15. ‘More Les' is aired after selected Cleveland Indians games on FSN OHIO. Les can be reached at www.leslevine.com|