Passan: Sweep the House Clean

Rich Passan has covered Cleveland sports for decades and he has seen all this before. Now, the Cleveland newspaper and radio commentator has some additional advice for owner Randy Lerner, and for those who want to see the Browns made a change in their coaching staff...


For those perched on the growing number of Butch-Davis-has-to-go bandwagons: Gentlemen, start your engines.

For those who did just that weeks ago, time to slam it into first gear and step real hard on the accelerator.

Davis haters and doubters, your time has come. Relish it. Time to pile on.

Paul Hilton Davis has worn out his welcome in Cleveland.

After Sunday's miserable performance against the New York J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets – yes, even by the defense in the fourth quarter – changes must be made at the top and Davis must G-O, G-O, go, go, go.

Not now. Too late to save this season. Making a change now does no good. It serves no purpose. It's not possible for this team to be better under Dave Campo or Terry Robiskie. Removing Davis will bring on the quit in this team.

No, he must stay and finish out this Frankenstein monster he has created. He has to suffer like the fans.

Then it'll be time to make a change. Blow out Butch's final three years as coach and autocrat and mercifully end this dismal period of losing.

Owner Randy Lerner must recognize this and sweep the house clean.

Out with Butch. Out with Pete Garcia. Out with Jeremy Green. Out with anyone associated with Davis.

After 10 games, only three victories and the same drivel dribbling out of the dressing room. Makes no difference whether it's a victory or a loss.

Four losses in a row now and the Browns are "spilling their guts" in every one, according to good ol' Paul Hilton. Spill some victories for a change.

The Browns have become the Bungles of Ohio professional football. No longer can Cincinnati lay claim to that dubious honor. It makes no difference how hard the Browns play anymore. They don't know how to win.

This great football town is being turned slowly into the laughingstock of the NFL. Enough already.

This town starves for a winner. And now, after four years, Davis has more than proven he cannot put one on the field on a consistent basis. Sure, he was 9-7 two years ago. But one winning season in four? Not nearly good enough.

For those of you still in his corner, why? Gotta be getting lonely.

What will convince you this man is better off with Cleveland on his resume?  He has done nothing to warrant a fifth season. The Browns have painted a canvas this season with just about every shade of ugly.

Surely, you can't think Davis is doing a good job. Four years under Davis and the Browns' mistakes continue. Encroachments, false starts, illegal formations and shifts. Penalties abound. Blame that on coaching. In this case, bad coaching.

Robiskie's performance as offensive coordinator has been awful. He has the imagination and creativity of a water buffalo.

Sunday, the Browns had 12 possessions. Eight started no more than 70 yards from the Jets' goal line. Most teams would froth if they could get field position like that.

But the Browns wound up with a three and outs from their 33, 40, 36 and 43, a four and out from the Jets' 49, a touchdown from their 43, a missed field goal from their 45 and another missed field goal starting at their 30. Almost comical if it weren't so serious.

Campo's defense is solid – but not with the game on the line. It shut down the Jets on their first 11 third downs Sunday. His superb blitz packages helped drop Jets quarterback Quincy Carter six times, though only once in the second half.

It rescued punter Derrick Frost, who has turned into a frightened rookie, when he failed to pin the Jets inside their 10 on several occasions.

But when it really counted, in the fourth quarter after Phil Dawson improbably missed his second field-goal attempt of the game . . . when it really counted, that defense blew it.

All of a sudden, the Jets' offensive line blocked as though embarrassed by what had taken place in the first 45 minutes. The Cleveland defense collapsed like a sand castle.

Why? According to Davis, the defense "started to wear down" in the fourth quarter. Wear down? What game was he watching?

The Browns' offense had the ball the final 4:04 of the third quarter and the first 3:23 of the fourth, courtesy of a bogus roughing-the-passer call against the Jets on a third-and-long. That totals about seven-and-a-half minutes. Throw in the two minutes between quarters and the defense had a nearly 10-minute rest.

They haven't had a respite like that since . . . well, since Bill Belichick coached here.

No, the defense blew this one. No excuses. The Jets' offensive line simply overpowered those poor "worn-down" guys when it counted.

For example: Normally reliable defensive tackle Orpheus Roye had LaMont Jordan pinned for a two-yard loss on first down near midfield on the Jets' winning touchdown drive, but Jordan slipped away, picked up eight yards and energized his offensive line.

Then on a third and 10 at the Cleveland 34, wideout Justin McCareins made the play of the game for the Jets, taking an eight-yard pass from Carter and lunging two yards, stretching just enough for the first down against Anthony Henry. Big plays. Clutch plays.

Their first third-down conversion of the afternoon set up the winning touchdown two plays later against a defense that has repeatedly failed to come up with a big play in crucial situations.

There's more.

The Jets, after the Browns' seventh three-and-out of the game, took over at their 23-yard line with 3:55 remaining in the game.

Nearly four minutes and three timeouts – certainly enough time for the Browns to get the ball back. Time for some defensive retribution.

The Cleveland offense never saw the ball again.

Instead, the Jets' offensive line bullied the Browns' defensive line in embarrassing fashion. On a third-and-six at their 38 and the Browns having already burned two timeouts, Jordan gained eight yards. A running play on third and medium. A running play!

Jim Nantz and Phil Simms of CBS-TV warbled incessantly before the game and in its early stages about the angry Browns. Playing hard and losing angered them, they reported.

Well, turn those hopping-mad Browns loose on the poor, unsuspecting Jets. Sit back and enjoy the anger, the fire, the passion we have waited for all season.

Then it became apparent to Nantz and Simms that they had the misfortune to cover two very bad football teams. At one point, they didn't know whether the defense was that good or the offense that bad.

Pardon their confusion. Their exposure to the Browns limits their objectivity. Ours doesn't.

Crank up those engines.

The OBR Top Stories