Levine: Little Chance, But Lots to Like

Bernie's Insiders' Les Levine takes a look at an interim head coach without a lot of hope of getting the permanent job, Bill Belichick rolling up the score (?), and the public fascination with populating the Browns front office with team alumni...

Browns interim head coach Terry Robiskie's future, like his former house, is on shaky ground, but he has already made a good impression on me.  I can't think of any other NFL coaches who can put ‘interim head coach' on two different lines of their resumes, and the likelihood of Robiskie continuing as head coach next year is not very good.  But he said something during Monday's press conference that probably no current head coach would have said, and that is too bad.

In Sunday's loss to the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, Robiskie twice  chose to go for first downs on fourth down, when every other coach in the league would have gone for a long field goal or a ‘pooch' punt.  I asked him if the out-of-hand score dictated that, or if he considered himself to be a riverboat gambler type of coach.  His answer was refreshing, to say the least.   Most coaches, when out-manned, would attempt to play the game close, not take any chances, run the clock down, and hope for a mistake or lucky play at the end.  Robiskie, knowing he has to make a quick impression, with a rookie quarterback in his first appearance of the season against the best team in football, said that the only way to beat the Patriots was to go with onside kicks, fake punts and field goals, Frisman Jackson throwing the ball, and double-reverses. 

Robiskie might be drummed out of the coaches fraternity for thinking like that, but the fans, who have been turned off by the previous head coach, had to like what they saw.  Robiskie has been put in a no-win situation (and that's probably accurate as far as the rest of the season is concerned), but hopefully owner Randy Lerner will be able to talk the new head coach into keeping Robiskie around.  It is not fair to judge his ability as an offensive coordinator based on what Butch Davis wanted him to do.  After all, Bruce Arians looks like a genius this year running Pittsburgh's offense.


Some fans told me that the feel former Browns coach Bill Belichick, looking for his first win in Cleveland since he left after the 1995 season, ran up the score against Robiskie and the Browns.  I don't agree with that, although he probably felt much satisfaction with the win.  One fan said that Bill might have been upset when the Browns went for a two-point conversion after cutting the deficit to 42-13.  That's not possible.  Who would understand Robiskie's thinking more than Belichick, who once called a timeout with one-second remaining---with the Browns trailing San Diego by 21 points---to kick a field goal?

When asked why he did that, Belichick replied, ‘We wanted to put points on the board'. 

 Plain Dealer columnist Bud Shaw, on my television show this week, wondered why the Browns fans have a fascination with former Browns being involved in the new front office structure of the team.  Certainly Ozzie Newsome is a name that would bring needed instant credibility to the front office that has very little of it.  He still is a very hard worker, but is he worth giving up what could amount to be the second or third pick of this year's draft along with other draft choices or players?  New England and Tampa Bay would agree, because they each won Super Bowls  within two years of giving up top picks to get head coaches Belichick and Jon Gruden. 

If all it would take to satisfy Baltimore to get Newsome is money, that would be easy.  Randy Lerner apparently is willing to pay plenty to get the job done here. 

Despite pleas from provincial Browns fans, Paul Warfield, Reggie Rucker, Jim Brown and Bernie Kosar, while welcome additions around the franchise, are not the answer to the General Manager problem.  It doesn't matter to Indians fans that John Hart had no ties to Cleveland before leading them to two World Series appearances, nor do Cavaliers fans care that Jim Paxson had no Cleveland ties before watching the ping pong balls go the right way.  Randy Lerner is facing the biggest decision of his tenure of owning the once-proud franchise.  Five years years from now, nobody will care where the GM came from, as long as he gets to accept the Super Bowl trophy.

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