Owl: Honesty Is Not Enough

Browns players love Terry Robiskie. He is honest with them, and treats them with respect - getting respect in return. He's honest with the media and fans as well, saying what he thinks. What a shame...<BR><BR>

We're going to miss Terry Robiskie if he is indeed replaced as the Browns head coach. We'll also be shocked if he isn't replaced.

It isn't fair, but Robiskie has to be judged by wins and losses, and so far he is 0 for 4 as Butch Davis' replacement with the prospects of being 0 for 5 very good. The Houston Texans can be .500 by winning Sunday. The Browns can only be 4-12.

The Owl respects Robiskie for his honesty. Like the other day, when he talked rookie quarterback Luke McCown. Asked point-blank whether McCown has proven he can be the quarterback next year, Robiskie left listeners with the impression the Browns would be making a huge mistake by counting on McCown in 2005. McCown is 0-4 as a starter with seven interceptions and four touchdown passes.

 "As I stand up on the sideline on Sundays, I would probably say ‘no, he's not,'" Robiskie said. "When I come in and look at him on Monday and watch the tape and watch some areas and situations where we could've given him some help and we didn't, it'd be hard to say. To step up and say he's ready, I couldn't say that today."

Everything Robiskie has done since being named interim head coach Nov. 30 has met with the approval of his players, but nothing so far topped his decision to let those that chose to to stay in Florida last Sunday night after the Browns played the Dolphins.

Nine players on the active roster call Florida home in the offseason, and about half that group is from within a 15-mile radius of Pro Players Stadium, where the Browns played the Dolphins Sunday night. Many took advantage of the mini-vacation, but none took advantage of Robiskie.

"All the guys know there's a time when I'm going to smile and joke, but there's also a line they know they can't cross," Robiskie said. "I don't have frown to say the line is there. I don't know how they know, but they know they can't cross it. They know I can pull the reins back in if we start getting away from what we're supposed to be doing."

Players say this is a freedom Butch Davis never granted. The Browns never played in Miami while he was head coach, but they did play in Tampa Bay and Jacksonville.

"Terry trusts us," defensive end Kenard Lang said. "That's the key word. When you have a coach that trusts you, you put out extra effort to go through a brick wall for him. That's all it is."

All who stayed behind were back to work on Wednesday morning. It's just a shame many of them won't be around in 2005.

It is no small thing to have a coach players have so much faith in, but the big problem is even if somehow Robiskie gets an opportunity to show what he can do in 2005, the chances of the Browns turning 4-11 into 11-4 are remote.

Current players like to point to the Atlanta Falcons and San Diego Chargers as teams that went from worst in 2003 to first in 2004, saying the Browns can do the same thing. Oh, really?

The Owl would love for that to happen. Believe me. But let's be honest, since this column is about the honesty of Terry Robiskie. The Falcons turned around because they got Michael Vick back after missing 2003 with an ankle injury. The Chargers turned around because Drew Brees suddenly discovered how to play like an NFL quarterback. This team has no quarterback for next season if McCown isn't ready, because Kelly Holcomb wants to try free agency, and even if he does change his mind, history shows he cannot last 16 games.

So once again, the quarterback situation comes down to the mistake of counting on Jeff Garcia. Does he deserve another chance? The Browns might have no other option. But he has started to break down. He had a back injury and an ankle injury last season in San Francisco. This year it was his shoulder and his knee.

Garcia is not comfortable unless he is in the West Coast offense. The absolute dumbest thing Browns owner Randy Lerner could do is hire a coach to suit Garcia.

I know there are Garcia supporters out there. Keep supporting him, wherever he plays next season.


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