Talk back to him here!
"> Talk back to him here!

Doc Gonzo: Don't Fire Davis.... Yet

<style> A:link {color: #663300; } A:active {color: #FF6600; } A:visited {color: #663300; } A:hover {color: #FF6600; } </style> Fan commentator Doc Gonzo is back with his Thursday diatribe, and is this time he's focused on Browns head coach Butch Davis. Agree or disagree with Doc? <A HREF=""><B>Talk back to him here!</B></A><br>

Fire Butch?

Yes, but not now.

Why not now?

Will a coaching change now prompt the offensive line to block?

Will it make Quincy Morgan hang onto the ball?

Will it stop arm tackles downfield?

Will it halt blown coverage?


There is a time for consequences, but it's not now. There is zero reason to believe dismissing Davis and elevating the likely interim successors of either Dave Campo or Terry Robiskie will repair the fundamental flaws of this football team.

Perhaps the most glaring crisis is a dearth of talent up and down the roster – the roster Davis assembled.

It's common and accepted wisdom that the offensive and defensive lines are the core of any scheme. Every play on offense and defense begins with the lines, and everything revolves around them.

Without adequate pass blocking, an offense becomes one-dimensional and ineffective. A defensive line that doesn't get pressure on the quarterback, or can't consistently clog running lanes, is a liability that weakens the team.

The Browns suffer those woes aplenty.


Initially, it looked like Cleveland would be able to mount an effective pass rush this season not through any single great talent, but depth. The roster was stocked with adequate linemen that would stay fresh through a regular rotation against rapidly tiring offensive linemen.

A sound theory that survived until Courtney Brown and Gerard Warren got injured in Week 2.

Reality 1, Theory 0.

Injuries, unless they stem from a too-aggressive off season regimen of mini-camps, can't be laid at Davis' feet.

A lack of a Plan B can.

So can a lack of talent on the offensive line.

Allegedly, Cleveland's best lineman is Ross Verba, the left tackle. You may have noticed him as the fellow being pushed on nearly every down into the lap of quarterback Jeff Garcia. A horrifying situation.

The guards aren't even worth the minuscule energy it takes to push these keys. The very best I can say about them is they are dangerously ineffective. I will guarantee you that their poor play will get Jeff Garcia or one of the running backs injured this season because of an egregiously  blown assignment.

And that brings us back to a point we've been bemoaning for almost 20 years: Until this team makes the offensive line a priority, they will not win consistently. And I don't believe now that it will happen under Butch Davis.

It's becoming more and more obvious that Davis and his coterie of scouts are unable to gauge NFL-caliber talent. If so, why was Melvin Fowler selected in the third round one year, then Jeff Faine in the first round the next. At one point, the Browns had four centers on their roster.

Today, they can barely get the snap off.

A good coaching staff can somewhat disguise a lack of ability on the roster by employing a sound scheme and fielding a disciplined team.

The Cleveland Browns are not a disciplined football team. Ill-timed penalties, botched plays, catastrophic mental errors and poor execution are the hallmarks of a team in disarray. Blame falls on the players, but why are those players out there. Blame for that falls on a single pair of Okie shoulders.

There is talent on the roster, but not enough to mask the deficiencies of the rest. The demoralizing loss at Pittsburgh was Chapter 5 in 2004's Greek tragedy. The defense was made to look foolish by a rookie quarterback, an oafish kid from Ohio that wasn't even a Browns fan growing up.

The offense soiled itself repeatedly, as usual.

Davis and Garcia continue to feud through the media -- another sign of a coach failing to grasp the nuances of leading a team at this level. Davis' botched handling of the 2003 quarterback situation left that season in more of a shambles than it needed to be, a frightening sign of ineptitude for a coach who was then in his third season.

Today, it's more of the same. And because of the organization's entrenched mendacity, it officially dismisses the petty bickering as a non-issue and tells the world that Davis and Garcia are practically blood brothers.

Oh, and they blame the media.

When all else fails, fall back on the hackneyed "It was taken out of context!" spin. Never acknowledge the truth. The fans are sheep with cash uninterested in the truth and the media are all liars, right?

Strange how every member of the media managed to take it out of context. A vast conspiracy, no doubt.

Words is words, facts is facts.

And the fact is, the Cleveland Browns are 2-3 and teetering on the edge of this season spiraling out of control. We watched it happen under Chris Palmer, a man whose only crime was being out of touch leading a team of has-beens and never-will-be's.

The natural and obvious question at this point in the season is "Where is the accountability?"

Davis must have his feet held to the fire, but now is not the time to can him. Changing the head coach now won't make any improvements because his coaching staff is an extension of his flaws. If he goes, so to must they.

The day after the season ends, clean house.

It's time to rebuild this team, and a coach with a proper sense of control and discipline is the first step.

Rebuilding in 2005 to make a Super Bowl run in 2006 is not a monumental task. There are several cornerstones around which to rebuild the foundation: Kellen Winslow II, Jeff Faine, Terrelle Smith, Lee Suggs, William Green, Andre Davis, Derrick Frost, Phil Dawson and a few others.

That's enough that the right new coach can come in, establish discipline and sound fundamentals and look to acquire the talent through the draft and free agency that Davis seems unable to do.

In his defense, Davis has made some good moves. Taking a chance on Lee Suggs in the fourth round comes to mind. His ability to challenge blown calls is among the best in the league. Pursuing Garcia in the off season was wise. I acknowledge that it is possible the 2004 season could be salvaged, but I don't believe it will be. The reality is too grim.

Barring a significant turnaround the rest of this season, I cannot justify keeping Davis based on the evidence of the past four seasons.

Being almost good enough isn't. Cleveland and its fans deserve a payoff on a collective investment of time, money and emotion.

And right now, it appears that investment is being squandered.


Former Ohio newspaper reporter and editor Bill Shea writes the Doc Gonzo column for Bernies Insiders each Thursday. Except when he doesn't. He can be reached at

The OBR Top Stories