The Winning Trifecta: Play Hard, Smart and Lose

Frank Derry looks at the demands placed on interim head coach Terry Robiskie and offers his thoughts on the criteria for removing the word "interim". Plus, Frank's proposed plan for reviving the offensive line...

So, you thought that simply by changing the person in charge, your 2004 Cleveland Browns would suddenly become a team capable of beating the World Champions.

You hoped that Terry Robiskie would be able to magically transform a team that is below-average talent-wise, even when completely healthy, into one that is capable of making you proud to wear your dog mask again.

Well, you may have thought and hoped those things, but be honest; did you realistically think the Browns would hand the Patriots only their second loss since Big Dawg was a little puppy?

Well, take away my lifetime Southern California Browns Backers Membership Card. Burn my Northern California, Bay Area and Alaska Browns Backers cards as well, but I was not amongst those fans hoping the Browns would defeat coach Bill Belichick's bunch.

I was hoping for a good, well-played, exciting football game. The scoreboard was a distant second in terms of importance. Unfortunately, the final lopsided score of 42-15 was very much in keeping with the difference in talent between the two teams.

I'm more than willing to give Robiskie a mulligan for this effort, considering the Browns had three strikes against them before the game was ever played.

The first strike was all the turmoil caused by past skipper Butch Davis's decision to abandon the sinking ship, rules of navigation be damned. When the captain has possession of the treasure chest, he will gladly shove women and children, not to mention gigantic offensive and defensive linemen, aside to make room for his departure.

The second strike was the fact rookie Luke McCown was making his first start at quarterback. Luke was the sacrificial lamb. It's doubtful either Kelly Holcomb or Jeff Garcia would have fared much better.

And the third strike was the fact New England was the opponent. Three strikes and the Browns had no business even being on the same field.

If I had my druthers, I'd like to see the Browns lose every game the rest of the year, although in a bit different manner.

This is nothing against Robiskie, who many have speculated needs to get at least two wins under his belt to have a legitimate chance to get the word "interim" removed from his title. I think that's a ridiculous requirement.

Robiskie isn't responsible for the absence of quality players on the current roster. He didn't injure Jeff Garcia's shoulder, or Kelly Holcomb's ribs, or Lee Suggs's toe, or Andra Davis's knee, or Kellen Winslow's ankle, or Ryan Tucker's knee, or Kelvin Garmon's knee, or Courtney Brown' foot, or Ben Taylor's shoulder. (Wow! It's no wonder Butch Davis had a panic attack!!!)

Davis couldn't make a great Moscow Mule using diluted vodka. Nor can Robiskie be expected to. (To the handful of non-alcohol drinking Browns fans, the Moscow Mule, a very tasty mixed drink, and the diluted vodka are a sophisticated way of saying you can't make chicken salad out of chicken dung.)

Throw out the win-loss column. Robiskie's ability as a head coach should be based strictly upon the performance put forth by his players.

If over the next four weeks they go out and give 100 percent and play hard at all times; if they eliminate most of the mental mistakes which have afflicted them on the field all season; and if they quit making fools of themselves with their words and actions off the field, then Robiskie will have proven himself even if the team goes 0-5 with him as the interim coach.

If they do all of the above and still lose, it will mean a whole lot to a whole bunch of people.

To the new general manager, whoever that happens to be, it will mean that the current players actually do care. That the desire is there, even if the talent isn't.

To the fans, it will mean a higher quality of football than we've seen over the past month.

If the Browns do play hard and win two or three games under Robiskie, then it might very well show that the problem was indeed the man in charge and that maybe only a few new faces and the return to health of the dozen-plus guys on injured reserve could make this team a legitimate contender as early as next year.

But for the benefit of the organization, a 3-13 record will be a lot more helpful than a 5-11 or 6-10 mark.


Well, it's obvious. The worse the record, the higher the draft pick come next April. And common sense would tell you that the higher the draft selection, then presumably the better the player.

Of course, that isn't always the case.

Do the names Tim Couch, Courtney Brown and Gerard Warren ring a bell? And how about Mike Junkin and Clifford Charlton? Or Mack Mitchell, Kurt Burris and Robert Crespino? All were first round busts.

The fact is, a high draft pick doesn't guarantee a great player. But a high draft pick should do two things:

First off, it will likely mean the team won't have to give up a second-rounder or a future first-rounder to move up high enough in the draft to get the player they desire, whoever that might be. A 3-13 record should be bad enough to guarantee their getting no worse than the second overall choice.

But if I were the general manager, I would dangle the first-rounder, no matter how high or low it happens to be, to a team willing to trade a quality veteran offensive tackle. Or if it means giving up that pick to sign a restricted free agent offensive tackle, I'd do it. In a heartbeat. No looking back whatsoever.

It's time to address the offensive line with every ounce of effort. Don't rely upon a draft pick to save the day. Let's get a proven player or two by trading draft pick(s). Get guys who have been through the wars in the trenches and have proven themselves,

Until that area of need is addressed, it won't matter whether Butch Davis, Terry Robiskie, Jimmy Johnson or Vince Lombardi is coaching the team. No one can win without a strong offensive line. Davis and Chris Palmer have proven that fact.

Hopefully, the incoming GM will find someone who will correct the problem.

The OBR Top Stories